Friday, December 6, 2013

Self-Publishing: Doing Book Giveaways

Sales of my book have been slow. There, I said it. It's the truth. There's so much more to self-publishing than writing -- indeed the writing is the easy part.

You also have to do all the marketing yourself. And if you take your foot off the gas, the engine stops. Instantly. Plus, there's a long lead time for many marketing avenues available to the small time author.

Blog reviews? You need to find the blogs, convince someone to read and then review your book, and then find time to post it.

Advertising? That can be expensive, and honestly I haven't really managed to find a good plan for where to spend advertising dollars.

This was never a money making proposition for me. I knew going in that I would be lucky to even receive one residual/royalty check from Amazon (still haven't) because the margins are thin and I don't know the first thing about promotion.

The one message I do hear repeated often is that in order to get any kind of real promotion to be worth the time and effort, you have have a lot of reviews out there for your book. In my case, I'm talking about reviews over on sites like (and almost exclusively) Amazon. (as of this writing, I'm stuck at 7 reviews...)

The more positive reviews you have, the more likely someone is to take a chance on picking up a book from an unknown author and the more likely some more popular websites might mention the book. Etc. It's a snowball effect.

One way to get reviews (other than begging friends and family) is to offer free copies of your book in exchange for reviews. You can also just do blind "book giveaways" on sites like Goodreads (paperback only) or Library Thing (ebooks ok) or many others.

I went ahead and did a giveaway at Goodreads (they automate much of the process for you, but in the end, you still need to physically mail your books out yourself) and today I just mailed the books to the 10 lucky winners. I included a brief note with the book, congratulating them on the win, hoping they enjoy the book, and asking for them to consider reviewing it.

But was it really worth it? We'll know in a few weeks, I suppose. But honestly, it can be expensive to do book giveaways. For my Goodreads giveaway, I probably spent over $70. I'd have to sell over 35 printed books to break even.


  1. I read this post with great interest because I'm seeing the reality of this exact same thing. I do have the advantage of having done my blog first, and then basing my book on that. It gives me a ready made start, but still, I question whether or not my book will have enough merit to maintain momentum(!)

    I recently discovered Jute's Charmed Life is out in paperback! I ordered a copy and of course will do a review. I noticed, however, that the paperback and kindle versions have separate Amazon pages, with no link connecting them. If you contacted Amazon maybe they would do that? Usually they give a choice of editions with each book listing, which I think would help. You have 7 reviews for the kindle edition and one for paperback; that's 8 but they aren't linked. I should think Amazon could help with that.

    I just joined Goodreads too, but I think I'll steer clear of their giveaway for the reason you mention. It's a dilemma. We have to spend money to promote our work and while the goal isn't to make money, neither do we want to end up in the hole!

    Anyway, good post.

    1. Yikes!

      I have to say, I've had the WEIRDEST last week with computers. My previous post on this blog, the one with a couple of comments from you vanished. Also, all of my phone's data got corrupted. Finally, this weird thing with the books not being linked. The second book _is_ linked (ebook and print) but the first one is not. I think it was at the very beginning. How did I miss that???

      Also, thank you very much for buying a copy! Your book was slated to arrive here on the 16th, even though I ordered it on December 5th, but I got email tonight saying it would arrive tomorrow(!). I'm boggled! Will read and review asap! Thank you!

    2. Again, thanks for the head's up! I think I got it fixed, though it will take a while for the system to update.