Amazon giveaways: the best-kept secret from Amazon customers?

This year, Amazon.com has added a new giveaway feature. Here, you can sponsor a giveaway of virtually any product sold on Amazon.

Having done a couple of Goodreads giveaways for A Housefly in Autumn, I was interested in how this new feature could help me promote the book. After doing a little research on Amazon’s official giveaway site, I’m still unsure how this feature would help.

Amazon.com and it’s international incarnations reach hundreds of millions of customers. This makes any tool Amazon unveils worthy of consideration. But after reading up on this new giveaway service, I think it may be more useful to larger vendors with a wider social reach than myself.

The main problem with Amazon giveaways, from the perspective of the small, independent publisher, is that there appears to be no readily accessible site within the entire realm of Amazon where customers can go to peruse the available giveaways. (As far as I can tell, there is only a Twitter hashtag: #AmazonGiveaway.) Instead, the sponsor of the giveaway is issued a unique link to disseminate to interested parties in order to bring them to the specific giveaway.

By contrast, the biggest advantage to a Goodreads giveaway is that readers can browse the entire catalog of available giveaways and thereby find new books that may interest them. The giveaway is a tool to reach potential customers with whom you might not otherwise make contact.

In the case of Amazon, you are left to promote your promotion, which seems like an extra, unnecessary step to promoting your product. Everyone in my network has already received promotional information about my books. I want tools that reach beyond my already-establish network.

Amazon jungle

I went to the Amazon the give away some books, but my books got lost in its immense jungle. (Image: Keystone View Company)

In the description of this service, Amazon says, “Run promotional giveaways to create buzz, reward your audience, and grow your followers and customers.” I could much more easily grow my followers and customers if all Amazon customers were allowed to discover my books by browsing the list of available giveaways.

I can imagine that this service could be valuable to individuals and corporations with large social followings. But for the little guy, it’s hard to spot the advantage. If I want to give a book to friend, I can do that on my own.

Amazon has done a lot of good things for independent authors and publishers, and maybe this new feature was intended for somebody else. Also, the feature is relatively new and perhaps still evolving.

If Amazon opened up a catalog where its customers could browse and enter any of the various giveaways, I believe I would begin sponsoring giveaways for my books in a heartbeat. In the meantime, I think I’ll hold off until somebody can explain the advantages of the system as it now stands.

Would you consider doing Amazon giveaways? Have you done any? How did they go? Whether you’ve tried them or not, can you spot an advantage to the small seller that I’ve missed?

Selling it by giving it away

The book has been published. All the hard work of editing, proofing, and layout is done. It’s time to take a break, sit back, and relax for a while.

Not.

Anyway, I can take a break from the completed book and turn my attention to my work in progress. Well . . . actually . . . I can’t do that either. The work in progress may have to stay on hold for a while longer.

A Housefly in Autumn may be published, but I’m hardly done with it. There’s promoting to be done.

Promoting can be a hard pill to swallow for someone who revels in the introverted nature of writing. Fortunately, this is not my first trip through the cycle, so I am somewhat prepared to face it. I’m never wholly prepared for promotion, but somewhat prepared is better than not prepared at all.

Promotion can be a slap in the face to the first-time author. It is tempting to think that once a book is released, people will naturally buy it. After three books, I am fully cured of this temptation.

I know how difficult it is to sell a book. That’s why I’m working so hard to give them away.

It may sound counter-productive to give books away, and maybe it is. There’s no guarantee it will result in eventual sales, but the idea is that people who might not have bought the book will be attracted to the giveaway. If they enjoy it, they may review it or tell their friends, or otherwise increase visibility, eventually making the book attractive enough to be worth actual money to the reading public.

Book giveaway

If not for the Internet, I’d be handing them out to passersby down at the docks.

The giveaways I’m working on right now are at Goodreads, for the print copy, and Amazon, for the Kindle version.

The Goodreads giveaway is running now. I am giving away six print copies of A Housefly in Autumn. The giveaway is open to US readers and runs through July 26, 2015, when six winners will be chosen.

The Kindle giveaway will run July 15-17. This is an unlimited giveaway. The Kindle version will be free to all who wish to download during that time. Amazon is in charge of the logistics, but from my experience, I expect this to be open to international readers as well.

Setting up the giveaways is not difficult nor time-consuming. But if you’re giving away your book, you want somebody to take it (if only for self-esteem purposes). The more difficult piece is drawing attention to your giveaway. This involves researching and registering your giveaway on blogs and web sites that advertise such things. All have different rules and requirements. Figuring out where to post and filling in required fields eats up time. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to eat up a lot of money, because it’s hard enough to give so much of your toil away; it would be far worse to have to pay to give it away.

Please take a moment to explore these giveaways and/or mention them to other readers.