Writing a book can be a romantic notion for many aspiring authors, but it is a process that requires time, dedication, and perseverance to get to the finished product. The thought of simply giving away your newly published book, which you poured your energy into for months—maybe even years—can seem like the most absurd idea ever.
However, with nearly 8,000 books published every single day in a market that continues to be increasingly crowded, authors—especially new authors—have to pull out all the stops to reach readers and get their books noticed. And the best way of doing this is through getting your book into the hands of as many readers as possible. This is where giveaways come into play.
There are a variety of different ways and reasons to give your book away, and to best position your book for success at launch, a combination of each of the strategies below is recommended.
Physical Outreach to Media Outlets
The media is a powerful way to reach preassembled audiences of readers who respect and value product recommendations given by their favorite magazine or newspaper. Garnering editorial reviews from editors and journalists is an incredibly valuable way to boost the credibility of your book and can be the tipping point that convinces a reader to buy it.
When planning your giveaway strategy leading up to the book launch, it is important to consider the timelines for both long- and short-lead media and to plan your outreach accordingly. Having a skilled and connected publicist to assist in managing outreach to the media is beneficial, but it is also possible to bootstrap those efforts on your own.A best practice is to send out advance readers’ copies (ARCs) to the media 4–6 months in advance of publication to ensure that editors and journalists have ample time to read and consider your book and to provide a timely review or coverage in their publication.
Physical Giveaways to Consumers
The biggest challenge you face as an author once you have completed your book is reaching readers and getting the book to stand out among the thousands of others that are vying for attention. The best way to do this is to promote your book where readers congregate. Goodreads is the leading community where readers gather for the sole purpose of discovering books and sharing their reading experiences. With over 25 million registered members and more than 50 million reviews, Goodreads is the online hub for readers.
Best-selling authors like Paula Hawkins, author of The Girl on the Train and Martha Hall Kelly, author of Lilac Girls, used the power of Goodreads to build buzz for their books. From targeted ads to book giveaways, campaigns on Goodreads work to help authors amass reviews, buzz, and overall increased awareness for their books.
Digital Giveaways to Both the Trade and Consumers
There are a variety of ways you can host a giveaway of your book; it doesn’t always have to be physical. One community that Greenleaf uses for nearly all of our titles is NetGalley, where you can share a digital listing of your book with professional readers to encourage awareness and reviews among those individuals. In doing so, authors ensure that their books are well placed to reach both industry decision-makers, such as booksellers and librarians, and consumer influencers, such as journalists and bloggers. Raising awareness among these individuals primes your book for both discovery and reviews, which are the leading factor that readers say impact their book-buying decisions.
You Wrote It, Now Let Them Read It
Giveaways are a crucial component in any book launch strategy and can be the difference between your book making a splash in the market or being a drop in the ocean of new books. A giveaway strategy that includes outreach to decision-makers in the trade, influencers in the media, and avid readers themselves can give a book the fuel it needs for a successful launch and to build a following for the author.
So don’t be afraid to put your book out there, even if it means giving a few copies away for free. The rewards that it can bring will be well worth it!