How to get your content shared by famous authors with book giveaways

I’ve blogged before about the book giveaways I’ve been running – they work well and build a targeted list quickly – but the added value in book giveaways is that the authors you include are likely to share your giveaway with their following.

This week I put up a new giveaway, and got Lauren Kate (author of Fallen) to share it with her 222,625 followers (on Facebook, she also shared on Twitter), which is pretty amazing.

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The trick is:

A. I’m offering value and cool things, not selling anything.

B. My giveaway was in honor of the upcoming Fallen movie.

C. I selected books I think fans of Fallen would like.

D. When she posted something on her Facebook page about cosplay, I mentioned we’re giving away a pair of black feather wings in our contest. That got it on her radar and she shared it on Twitter or Facebook.

I probably wouldn’t have been successful if I’d tried emailing or private messaging her.

Sometimes, just commenting or replying to someone else’s post is more casual and more public, and more likely to earn a response. (You feel like you have to reply when someone is talking to you publicly, it’s rude not to… whereas it’s easy to ignore private conversations).

How to set up KingSumo

This video doesn’t cover everything perfectly, but does show the basics of using KingSumo on your WordPress site – you install the plugin and then you’ll see “KingSumo giveaways” on the left menu, where you can set up a new giveaway.

You also need to check “settings>>KingSumo giveaways” which has a few options, like connecting with your email list and setting a default Twitter handle.

The name of your giveaway and the featured image is what other people will share, so keep that in mind and you might want to put some text on your shared image. There’s room for 3 other images, a background and a logo.

Some tips:

  • Make it easy. There’s room to ask a question, don’t make it so difficult nobody knows the answer. Don’t make it something only your fans would know (you’re trying to attract NEW readers).
  • Pick a big gift that appeals to your target readers, but not to everybody (new Kindles or Amazon credit are not a good idea because you’ll get tons of entries that aren’t your target readers.
  • Fine home your targeting and use Facebook ads. It’s better to set up an audience with ads so you can create narrowed interests… people who like Kate Lauren AND ya paranormal fantasy AND fallen angels, for example. Smaller audience, but it should get more shares and engagement.

How to improve conversions, engagement and shares

When you post your giveaway, ask questions and try to get feedback which will cut down your ad costs and increase shares. I emailed my list and told them I’d give 5 runnerup prizes, all they have to do is comment on the books they want to win.

I usually email or message all the authors to tell them they’ve been included, to see if they’re share. I don’t split the list with them, because that gets messy and because I’m paying for all the prizes myself – but I DO make sure I’m giving them a boost in visibility and setting up some pages that will get long-term traffic (in other words, I want to make sure they’re getting a lot of benefit from being included in my giveaways, so I’m not just taking advantage of their brand name).

I’ll also set up pages with links to all the books so that after the giveaway I can email the whole list and tell them to check out all the books and authors carefully, even if they didn’t win.

How to “warm up” your list

There are two huge mistakes that usually screw book giveaways up for authors. The first is splitting the cost and doing a huge group giveaway where everyone gets the email list. The problem with this is less readers will join, because they don’t want to get signed up on dozens of email lists; and most authors will just email them info about their books right away, which will be seen as scammy.

People sign up to win free stuff, not necessarily to hear about you or your books, so you need to educate them and build trust slowly.

  • First, thank them and email the losers a runnerup prize – if you have lots of books, many of the authors probably have a free book offer or something. Make a long post with all the authors’ free book offers and share that first.
  • Maybe also share another followup giveaway so they know this isn’t a one off thing.
  • Ask them questions and get them engaged… ask them to comment on your Facebook page with what book they’re reading now, their favorite books in your genre, etc.
  • Don’t talk about you or your books, talk about your genre and other bestselling books in your genre. (Although, it’s fine to introduce yourself and offer them your free books early. But don’t position it as an ask, position it as a give, “I’ve decided to give some free books to everyone who signed up, and here are 10 of my friends who also have free books. I hope you enjoy them and find a new author you like.”)
  • If you don’t have any permafree books, I’d do a giveaway followed by a KDP free book deal. The problem is, you can’t just sell a book to someone who’s never read your writing and doesn’t want it (well, you can, with an amazing cover and brilliant marketing, but it’s much harder). See if you can get them to download a free book; a week or two later you can ask what they thought and say you’d appreciate comments or a review. You can also then ask them to sign up to your REAL email list for actual fans (I have a list for giveaways and one for fans).
  • In the beginning you need to keep reminding them why they joined and why you’re emailing them, and I usually post something on the bottom like “I use this list to give free books away to fans of YA fantasy and scifi books; if you’re no longer interested in winning free books please unsubscribe.” Make it easy for them to unsubscribe, but only after you affirm the benefits of staying on your list.

About Derek Murphy

I help authors and artists turn their passions into full-time businesses, make a bigger impact, and blaze a luminous trail of creative independence. Right now I'm in Taiwan finishing a PHD in Literature, writing several books, and managing a handful of online businesses. Find me

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