On March 2nd, Amazon posted an announcement on the Amazon Author Central homepage stating the Amazon Giveaway program is now available for Kindle ebooks. For books, it was previously only available for hardcopies, which seemed strange considering that digital copies are quite easily sent to readers. Enough people must have spoken up that Amazon finally did something about it: the announcement cites “authors have been asking for this feature” as one of the reasons for the change. It’s good to know Amazon is listening.
If you don’t know about Amazon’s Giveaway program, check out the homepage here and the FAQ here. As others have pointed out, an Amazon Giveaway could be very beneficial for authors, especially since you are not required to be enrolled with KDP Select. Want to make an Amazon Giveaway of your own? Launching one yourself is pretty simple, as I will show you.
Note: Amazon Giveaway is only available to residents of the United States.
How to launch an Amazon Giveaway
To launch a giveaway on your own ebook, first go to your book’s product page on Amazon and scroll to the very bottom. You should see a section titled “Set up an Amazon Giveaway.” Here is an example from the page for my book, The Joining:
Click the button “Set up a giveaway” and you will be taken to next page where you will choose the details of your giveaway.
You will notice this page lists a cost next to the book. Of course, the caveat to the Amazon Giveaway is you must pay for any items you are giving away. Like regular gifting, Amazon does not provide any free copies of an ebook for an author to distribute. Hopefully, one day Amazon will change its mind, but until then, we all must pay up.
You can select one of three different giveaway types. Picking the right giveaway involves weighing your goals with a bit of probability. For example, if you choose a Random giveaway and select 1 prize for 100 entrants, you must recognize that this does not mean 100 people are guaranteed to enter your competition. Each individual entrant will have a 1/100 chance of winning. This means the 50th person to enter could win, or the 99th person could win, or even the very first person to enter could win! This is why it is random. (Though I am using the example of a single prize, you can select multiple prizes, which will affect the probability of winning in a Random giveaway.)
If you want to ensure a set number of entrants, you should select either the Lucky Number or First-come, First-served type. The First-come, First-served giveaway is useful for smaller giveaways, when you do not care about getting a high number of entrants. But if you want more entrants, the Lucky Number giveaway is the way to go: using the 1/100 example, this giveaway ensures that your prize will not be awarded early since it is reserved for the 100th person.
“But why would I want to ensure a high number of entrants?” you might ask. Good question! A higher number of entrants means more people get exposed to the fact that your book exists. While you will probably be primarily marketing this giveaway to people who already know about you, also expect random people to come across your giveaway through social media and friends sharing links. Even if these random people don’t win, hopefully the giveaway will pique their interest: Amazon even encourages those who don’t win to download a free sample of your book.
Plus, Amazon Giveaway offers optional entry requirements. These include requiring someone to follow you on Amazon or Twitter, or watch a video on Amazon or YouTube. By having a higher number of entrants, you ensure more followers and more exposure. And, again: you’ll be crossing your fingers that some people who don’t win will consider buying your book anyway.
Now, though larger giveaways can be better, keep them realistic. If you only expect 100-200 people to sign up for your giveaway, you should try not to design a giveaway for 1,000 entrants. Any unclaimed ebook prizes cannot be refunded and will be returned to you to be distributed as gifts or offered in another giveaway.
I imagine a potential way to scam the Amazon Giveaway system would be to consistently set ridiculously high numbers for Lucky Number giveaways, e.g., 50,000 entrants when you’re only going to get 500. Then when the prizes go unclaimed, you could recycle them into a new giveaway. Through this method, you could farm Twitter followers, YouTube views, etc. But remember this: people can see what their chances of winning are and if the prizes were awarded. If you scam with this method, people are going to notice and they are going to get mad, and rightfully so. Do not do this. You will alienate your readers and it will bite you in the ass. Plus, you could potentially get in trouble with Amazon itself.
A minor note: an ebook giveaway can last up to 30 days, which is different than the 7 day max for hardcopies. This could be useful for when you’re drumming up excitement over a new release, or if you make a giveaway with an exceptionally large entrant pool.
The next page will set the details of your giveaway. Here, you will assign your giveaway a title, input your name as you want entrants to see it, upload an image like your book cover, and write up a short welcome message. This is where you could quickly detail why you are hosting the giveaway—are you celebrating your book’s release? Is the prize the first book in a series and the second is coming out soon?
You are also asked to input messages for the Win page and the Lose page. For the Win page, you could do a simple “Congratulations!” message and ask the winner to leave a review of the book when they finish reading it. For the Lose page, here is where you want to encourage someone to follow you through your mailing list, Facebook, Twitter, etc. for future giveaways. Also, encourage them to read the free sample of your book. If they like it, they may skip waiting for the next giveaway and just buy it.
Here is a tricky option. You know the little social media share buttons that crop up on every website? Amazon gives you the option to remove them for your giveaway. This is where you want to think about what you are trying to accomplish with your giveaway. For most giveaways, you will probably be focused on exposure, getting people to see your book, so you will definitely want to keep the share buttons. However, if you are trying to offer this giveaway more exclusively, say, to the members of your mailing list, you might want to remove the share buttons. But remember: just because you remove the share buttons doesn’t mean people can’t share the giveaway: it just makes them have to take an extra step, only slightly discouraging them.
After you’ve filled out this page, you’ll be asked for your payment method and then you’re set!
Now, just because you have to pay out of pocket for your own ebook doesn’t mean you can’t be smart about it. If you’re a Prime member, consider using Amazon’s No Rush shipping method for the promotional Kindle credit to use for these giveaways. (If you don’t have Prime, test out the No Rush shipping with a 30 day free trial for Prime membership.) Or, if you have no credit and have to pay up but you are a member of KDP Select, start your giveaway when your book is on a Countdown Deal to pay a lower price.
Finally, you do not have to be the author of a book to set up an Amazon Giveaway for that book. While most people will want to make a giveaway for their own book, it would be pretty neat to set up a series of giveaways for, say, your favorite books or another author’s book if you want to give them an exposure boost.
Have you used an Amazon Giveaway before? If so, how did you like it? Did you have any success with it?