How to use Amazon’s giveaway feature to spike sales rank and sell more books

When I first heard of Amazon’s new giveaway feature I was skeptical.

People can sign up for the giveaway by following you on Twitter or Amazon – neither of which are great. When you’re starting out, you want to get strangers on your email list to build your relationship. And there are other, better giveaway tools for that, like KingSumo or UpViral.

I’m also unconvinced that having a lot of people follow you on Amazon is a great idea, because you can’t control it. It’s also pretty new, and it seems like maybe Amazon emails your followers when you publish something new, but Amazon changes frequently, who’s to say it’ll even be around in a couple years?

Again, better to get them on your email list.

However – I run giveaways on Goodreads because I know it’s an active community and the giveaways will reach new readers outside of my network. I didn’t think Amazon did that, so I didn’t see the value in the giveaways. But an author friend recently told me they’d gotten a lot of signups for their Amazon giveaway without much promotion.

If an Amazon giveaway reaches new readers, it might be worthwhile, so I decided to test it.

First, I gave away a bunch of cheap ebooks.

Why I like it

It’s easy.

It may not be the best giveaway option in the world, but you don’t need a website or any 3rd party software. You just buy the thing you want to give away and share the Amazon link, which is super easy. It’s an easy, free way to giveaway copies of your book.

BUT, I was right – Amazon doesn’t promote it for you.

Sales ranking hack

I want to believe buying ebooks for your Amazon giveaway boosts your sales rank, which could make it AMAZING. Because, it’s hard to just buy 30 copies of your own book. But you could do one giveaway on Amazon, and buy 30 prizes, and boost your rank a bunch. Sweet.

But it’s complicated, and not very elegant…

It might make sense for print books…except if you’re doing print books you should be using Goodreads, because it has a built in community and they’ll sign up with zero promotion.

Also boughts hack

What I do plan to use soon are book giveaways of other authors in my genre.

I’ve already been doing this… but I did it with signed, print books and those are a pain in the ass. It might help for also boughts, but it’s expensive.

It’s so much easier/better/cheaper to giveaway ebook copies and just “gift” them to people.

However, making 10 different Amazon giveaways, so they follow you on Twitter or Amazon, doesn’t make sense (they can’t keep following you to enter each new giveaway).

So I decided not to use Amazon giveaways for this.

Instead, I’ll just run ONE giveaway on Gleam, they can enter however I choose, and I can let winners choose the books they like and I’ll gift them the Kindle copy.

This way….

  1. I boost also boughts for all books
  2. I can gift a copy of MY books to boost rank
  3. I can have a “best X books of X genre” post that authors link to
  4. I can tell other authors I’m giving away a copy of their book

I’ll start doing this for all my launches. Check out an example here:

Best books for teens based on Greek Mythology.



Holy shit I can gift copies of my book? This should have been obvious, but previously I just promised free books to my readers and launch my books with a free campaign. In the future, I could just GIFT 1000 copies of my book. It would take a REALLY long time, but those gifts would count toward paid sales rank, and put me up to #1 bestseller REALLY quickly and easily, which is amazing. Awesome hack, can’t wait to use it~!



I’m still testing this out, but it seems like the easiest way to hack the system is to build a big list with giveaways, then use Amazon giveaways to “gift” a lot of copies of your book, because Amazon will do it automatically (instead of needing to gift 1 copy of your book by email, one by one, to hundreds of people).

With giveaways you have the option to set winners at “1 in 400” or something like that. I would do 1 in 5 and try to get 2000 signups. I would gift 400 copies. At 99cents it would cost about $400 – but there is no other service where you could pay $400 and get 400 sales – in most other services, you’d pay $400 just to get 40 sales (or less). The cheapest I found was 30 sales for $125.

PLUS you’ll get some money back for all those sales, so it will cost less (you can run the numbers and see if a higher prices book at 75% would make more sense).

400 books @ 99cents at 35% =  spend $396, earn $138.6. Cost = $257.4

400 books @ $2.99 at 75% = spend $1196, earn $897. Cost = $299

So, as an easy way to seriously bump your Amazon sales rank a TON… actually the best way to do it, hands-down, Amazon giveaways seems like a pretty epic book marketing hack.


After more testing, it seems this strategy doesn’t work, giveaways and gifting books don’t seem to impact sales rank.

Instead, you can use Amazon giveaways to get a lot of Twitter or Amazon followers. I would use it to giveaway copies of bestsellers in your genre to attract ideal readers to follow you.



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
  • Jaime Munn

    Great stuff as always, Derek. There’s something I’d add as a caveat to an author gifting their ebooks: be aware that recipients of these gifts have a choice. They can accept your ebook or they can exchange it for the same value in credit to their account. (They can also return your ebook for a full refund, to their account, within the stipulated time frame.) Exchanges (and refunds), obviously, don’t count to your sales rank or to your royalties, which means you’re out of pocket and have nothing to show for it. Of course, since most people (I like to think) aren’t out to screw others over, it’s going to be a numbers game…and depending on the price of your ebook, it may well be a worthwhile gamble for the potential benefits. Gifting on sales days (I don’t think you can gift free ebooks) might be the best way to maximise the benefits. However, maybe your advertising money could be better spent in other ways? 65c x 1,000* is still a chunk of change at the end of the day… (* 99c ebooks giving you back 35% in royalties rounded to a 65c cost.)

    • I agree, I think using Amazon’s giveaway instead may work, since you prebuy your own book and they redeem your book if they win, but I’ll test both soon.

  • Christopher Scott Downing

    I’m always grateful to see you trying out all these hacks and posting the results, even when the results are mixed. My question: are you sure that the recipient of the Kindle gifts is credited for the “also bought” and not the giver? Does it matter? Thanks!

    • I haven’t had any luck with this actually – gifting copies and giveaways don’t seem to have any effect on rank.

  • alkibsi

    When you gift your own book do you have to pay for it.

  • As you say, the main thing is to get people on your mailing list. People who are interested in your books. The problem with Amazon Giveaways is that there is a whole industry of people who get the stuff just to sell it on ebay. So, the followers you get are useless. I’m experimenting with trying to get people to sign up on my mailing list before they get the link to the Giveaway. So far, no takers, but it has kept the spammers out of it. You’re better off not giving away any books, than giving them to people who make money by selling them on ebay.

    • That’s interesting. Actually I think most of those people post the book for sale on ebay at a mark up and only buy the book if they sell it on ebay, they probably use computers to pull info from amazon and list thousands of books.

      I only use Amazon giveaways now to get my current followers to also follow me on Amazon, because I think that helps book launches… for listbuilding I use KingSumo and targeted Facebook ads, but yes you have to be careful only to attract readers, so it’s best to just do a book giveaway (no amazon credit) that will appeal to those readers.

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