Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Using the New Amazon Giveaway to Promote Your Books

Jodie Renner, editor & author

Just as I was considering running a Goodreads Giveaway on my new craft-of-writing guide, Captivate Your Readers (which is #1 on Amazon's "Hot New Releases" list in "Authorship"), I found out about a new initiative from Amazon.com, released on February 10, called Amazon Giveaway, which you might want to consider taking advantage of to promote a print book of yours. (My personal experience and conclusions at the end.)

For now at least, it doesn’t include digital prizes like e-books, and entrants (prizewinners) have to be in the U.S. But the good news is, Amazon sends off the books for you, unlike Goodreads giveaways, where you have to package and mail the prizes yourself. Two disadvantages are that you have to pay full price for your own book (hopefully that will change) and you can’t personalize your prize in any way – you won’t be able to autograph the book or insert a personal note.
Basic info on Amazon Giveaways:
The product must already be on sale on Amazon. You can give away any product Amazon sells, as long as it’s on their list of eligible products. Digital items like e-books, songs, gift cards, etc. are not eligible, and for now at least, you can’t give away Kindles. To find out if a product is eligible, go to the page for that product, then scroll down to below the reviews of that item and look for an “Amazon Giveaway” box.
To run an Amazon Giveaway, you need an Amazon account with a valid credit card.
You may only enter one item at a time as a prize, and you can give away up to 50 of that item, to a maximum value of $5,000.
You pay for the prizes and postage upfront.
You can run two kinds of promotions. Either:
- Entrants win on a first-come, first-serve basis; for example, the first 5 or 10 or 20 people to join the giveaway receive a print copy of your book. This is probably not the best choice, as entrants need to be at the right place at the right time, and could spread the word quickly among their friends, so anybody else entering after that will be disappointed.
- Entrants win by luck or chance, like a Rafflecopter giveaway. You could specify that for every 10 or 25 or 50 or 100 entries you’ll give away a print copy of your book.
For now at least, entrants’ eligibility is U.S. only, age 18+.
All giveaways last one week or until prizes run out, whichever comes first.
Amazon ships the book for you, but as the host, you pay the shipping costs (lowest available, and of course only in the U.S.).
If you want to check out current giveaways and see how it works, search Twitter for the hashtag #AmazonGiveaway.
How to become a giveaway host:
Anyone who wants to host a giveaway can get started at amazon.com/giveaway or simply visit Amazon to find the eligible item they would like as a prize and click “Set up a giveaway” near the bottom of the product detail page. From there, the host determines the giveaway details, enters custom content, and decides whether prizes will go to many entrants or to the first few entrants. Hosts receive a unique link that they can share with their audiences how, when, and where they choose.
How people enter to win your book or other prize:
Each entry to an Amazon Giveaway is simple and predictable. They follow the admin on Twitter, give Amazon authorization to connect their app to the entrant’s Twitter account, confirm they’ve got a US address, and they’re entered.
Click to read the FAQs for this giveaway.
You can choose the odds of winning - one book awarded per how many entries.

You receive a link and can advertise your giveaway anywhere, including on social media, by email or newsletter, and on your blog or website.
It’s free of charge. You don’t pay anything to set up and run this promo giveaway.
Amazon takes care of all the terms and conditions and does the shipping and handling for you, which saves you time and trouble. Hosts (you) pay the lowest shipping cost, determined by the winner’s address.
It’s for print books only, not e-books.
You have to pay full retail price for your own books.
Since it ships directly from Amazon, you can’t customize or personalize your gift in any way, so you won’t be able to autograph your book.
You can’t edit the giveaway after it starts. Just make sure the giveaway you’ve setup is what you want before you start promoting it. Once you’ve bought the prizes and pushed the giveaway live and promoted the URL, there’s no turning back.
Many products, including digital ones, are not eligible. To find out if a product is eligible for a giveaway, you need to go to its product page and scroll down to find the “Amazon Giveaway” box.
You can’t give away more than one prize at a time, so no grand prizes or runner-up prizes. You can offer one item only for each giveaway, but of course you control how many of that item you’ll give away.
Although you can advertise your Amazon Giveaway anywhere and integrate it with your Twitter account, you can’t design a giveaway widget or embed this giveaway into your own blog or website, so it won’t drive traffic to your site or help with newsletter sign-ups, etc. Running an Amazon Giveaway will only allow you to send traffic to a site hosted by Amazon.

For entrants in the U.S. only. Citizens of Canada, the U.K., Australia, and other countries are not eligible to win your book or other prize.

Personal experience and final thoughts: 

I entered my new writing guide, Captivate Your Readers in an Amazon Giveaway on March 2, and I opted to give away 5 copies of my new book. I decided on one win per 40 entries. Over 200 people entered within about 10 hours, including overnight, so the 5 books were won and the contest closed. I opted for the requirement that each entrant follow me on Twitter, so I gained 200 Twitter followers in a few hours. But since the contest was over so quickly, next time I would say one win per 100 or even 150 entries. It was expensive, as I had to pay retail price for my own books, plus the postage, but it did raise awareness for my new title and cause a spike in sales of my books, both print and e-books.

Amazon’s press release on this new feature reads: “Amazon Giveaway is an intuitive tool that allows anyone to create and host their own giveaway, to generate awareness and reward their audiences. ‘The idea of running giveaway promotions is easy. They are a really effective way to attract attention and build engagement, but giveaways often come with hidden costs and complexities which makes the reality of running one hard,’ said Steve Shure, Vice President Consumer Marketing. ‘Amazon Giveaway is the first self-service tool that takes care of all the hard work of a giveaway, from setting up all of the rules to shipping prizes directly to winners.’”
A giveaway promotion as an easy and effective way to attract attention to your book and build engagement with you as the author. And I like that Amazon does almost all the work for you on this one. The biggest downside as I see it is that it won’t bring potential readers directly to my website or blog or help with newsletter sign-ups. Also, I can’t sign my book or write a little note inside politely suggesting that a review would be much appreciated!
Have you tried Goodreads Giveaways or this new one, Amazon Giveaways? How about Rafflecopter or other giveaways? Have you noticed a corresponding increase in sales? Give us your opinion in the comments below. Thanks!

Jodie Renner is a freelance fiction editor and the award-winning author of three craft-of-writing guides in her series An Editor’s Guide to Writing Compelling Fiction: Fire up Your Fiction, Writing a Killer Thriller, and Captivate Your Readers. She has also published two clickable time-saving e-resources to date: Quick Clicks: Spelling List and Quick Clicks: Word Usage. You can find Jodie at www.JodieRenner.com, www.JodieRennerEditing.com, at The Kill Zone blog alternate Mondays, on Fiction University blog the first Thursday of the month, and on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.


  1. In the past, I have not participated in giveaway promotions but this sounds like a good and straightforward promotional opportunity.

  2. Did a Goodreads giveaway of a dozen copies of "Captain's Stories - Tales of Travel" when first printed. There were about 800 entries over a 3 week period. Of the 12 winners 4 submitted reviews. It did NOT move the needle on sales.

  3. Thanks for sharing your experience. I'm definitely going to try this. It's too bad I can't control the start and end dates to correspond with my book's official launch date.

  4. It seems Kindle books are now being offered!

  5. Thanks for the tips! I am thinking about doing my first Amazon giveaway. I've done Goodreads in the past.
    Cynthia T. Toney, author of the Bird Face series for teens

  6. Thank you for sharing your opinions of the Amazon Giveaway and telling us its terms.