In the world of books, nothing is more valuable than word-of-mouth marketing. While there are many strategies to foster buzz for your book on and offline, getting your book into the hands of new readers remains the ultimate goal. To reach those new readers, giving your book away should be a key element of your marketing strategy.
Running a book giveaway should not be done aimlessly but should be executed with intention and creativity. Though it may seem counterintuitive that giving away copies of your book will contribute to an increase in book sales, this strategy has been proven to be impactful over and over again. But to maximize the benefits of your giveaway, it’s important that you make sure your book is getting into the hands of readers who can magnify the splash your book makes when it hits the market. First, let’s explore two platforms that have established followings of readers interested in receiving free copies of books: NetGalley and Goodreads.
NetGalley’s homepage states that it helps “book advocates and industry professionals discover and recommend books.” Visibility and social proof given by NetGalley readers and reviewers can be the tipping point for a future reader’s book-buying decision. A few key things to keep in mind when using NetGalley:
- Partnering with NetGalley allows a digital copy of your book to become available to a community of over 550,000 influencers, including librarians, booksellers, media professionals, and reviewers and bloggers.
- NetGalley readers can interact with book listings in different ways. Librarians, for example, are able to let the author and publisher know if they’d hypothetically put the book in their library and/or if they’d recommend the book to other librarians. Raising awareness with these industry decision-makers amplifies your book’s discoverability.
- Especially for pre-publication features, receiving reviews on NetGalley can help authors forecast how future readers may also receive their book. These early reviews create buzz within a community of publishing professionals and decision-makers, spark conversation among avid readers, and can lead to reviews being cross-promoted on other platforms, such as Goodreads, Amazon, and/or social media.
- NetGalley readers tend to have large “to-read” piles. To maximize the review potential of your book, you can incentivize readers to share a review by offering to coordinate an author interview, provide ancillary materials such as reading guides or excerpts, or gift a signed copy of the book.
Another main player in the giveaways game is Goodreads, one of the most popular social media platforms for avid readers to share what they’re reading and discover new books. Running a giveaway on this site can help an author connect with readers and extend their book’s visibility on a platform with over 125 million readers. A few key things to keep in mind when using Goodreads:
- With the remarketing techniques used by Goodreads, running a giveaway is a quick way to reach a wide audience. When a user enters a giveaway, the book gets shelved in their “want-to-read” list, and this marked interest is shared with their network on Goodreads.
- Giveaways on Goodreads can be done with either print books mailed from the author or e-books delivered directly to a user’s Kindle device, and each format has its own set of advantages.
- Any reader with a US or Canadian mailing address can enter for their chance to win a print copy of your book. This is an opportunity for you to go that extra mile for a future reader by sending a signed book, a short note, a bookmark, and/or other book swag, creating a personal connection with the reader that can further encourage them to share their review on Goodreads.
- Kindle giveaways are an efficient method of seeding large quantities of books, allowing you to give up to 100 copies per giveaway. That’s a quick 100 new readers and a great way to generate word-of-mouth buzz and an influx of interest in the book.
- Readers who have shelved your book as “want to read” will continue to get notifications about your book anytime there is new activity on its page, such as when you add notes or run a new giveaway. This helps to keep your book top of mind with interested readers and builds further momentum for your book and giveaway series.
Reaching the “Right” Readers
The art of the book giveaway hinges on getting your book in front of the right readers: media professionals like podcast hosts or journalists, individuals with an engaged following on social media, and readers ready to leave their honest feedback.
Collaborating with the media is a technique for getting the message of your book to an already opted-in audience. Regular podcast listeners or blog readers value product recommendations given by their preferred host or platform. Giving your book away to a media outlet can result in the support of their followers too.
Garnering reviews from an editorial team can add value and overall credibility to your book and your personal platform. For thoughtful coverage of your book, be sure to provide the editors and journalists ample time to read your book. Having a NetGalley listing is an easy way to also reach media professionals in order to complement the targeted outreach you’re executing.
Social media is a necessary tool for your book’s promotion in this digital age. Whether it’s a verified social media influencer or individuals within your network with an active following, giving away your book to social media advocates can really extend your book’s reach and gain the advantage of an engaged audience.
Another great way to support your book is to market it on social media channels where your target audience already congregates. For a business book aimed at thought leaders and professional speakers, seek support on LinkedIn. For a romance novel, Instagram or TikTok is likely a better-suited medium. Tapping into online communities that are already reaching your target audience gives you the best chance of reaching readers who will most likely be interested in your content and who may then become followers of your book and author brand.
One of the single most important goals in giving your book away is securing reviews. Asking your network to provide honest reviews is an important and often overlooked marketing strategy. People in your network want to help you; they may just not know how to without your guidance. This can be a simple ask via an email, a phone call, or a request on social media, depending on the recipient. The main thing to remember is the importance of authenticity as you are reaching out to your network and revealing your publication journey with them. Sharing the key milestones of your book’s publication will make them feel connected to you and this experience and excited to support your book launch by providing an honest review.
Give Your Book Away for Future Rewards
Book giveaways will help you as an author better understand your target audience, position your book to get into readers’ hands who will influence your book’s visibility, and seed potential reviews that can later act as social proof for your book and for your platform.