Giveaways and contests can grab readers’ attention whether you’re trying to promote a book launch or create buzz for a backlist book. In exchange for taking an action you specify — for example, sharing social media content or submitting fan art — readers get something in return that makes them excited to participate.
Single books are a classic giveaway prize for authors and publishers, and can be enough to engage readers. But what else can you offer to make your contest or giveaway more enticing? Here are some prize examples from authors and publishers to help inspire you.
Multiple-author book bundles
When multiple authors join forces for a group book giveaway, the prize tends to be more interesting (six free books is better than one!). Each author is able to reach new fans via cross-promotion with the other authors — in order to participate, each author promotes the giveaway to their fans. For example, Tess Gerritsen ran a thriller-themed book giveaway close to Halloween with five other authors.
Signed copies from multiple authors
Giveaways can be even more enticing when a signed paperback is the prize! J. Daniels ran one such giveaway with four other romance authors on Instagram.
Maggie Hall and 15 other YA authors ran a giveaway offering 16 signed books on Tumblr.
An ereader loaded with books
Ereaders are a pricier prize, but can be worth the extra exposure you get by offering something with a higher value. It can at least be worth testing, even as a multi-author collaboration. Jasmine Walt gave away a free Kindle Fire preloaded with 10 bestselling books in her genre.
Advanced reader copies (ARCs)
Offering ARCs as a giveaway prize is a great way to offer winners an early look at an author’s newest work — and could also lead to some early reviews. Debbie Macomber ran a contest on her Facebook page where the winners would receive ARCs of her upcoming release.
Crown Publishing offered a signed galley on Instagram as part of their giveaway promoting Armada by Ernest Cline.
Annotated books or ARCs
Tara Sim gave away an annotated ARC of her book, Timekeeper, which was filled with doodles, historical facts, and writing insights. This behind-the-scenes look was definitely intriguing — this giveaway got more than 1,200 entries!
Everyone loves free books, but you can really make someone’s day by giving them money, too! Book giveaways often include a small monetary gift card along with the book, usually to a book retailer, coffee chain, or another popular store relevant to the content of the book. Helena Hunting offered a $25 Amazon gift card along with her book series as part of her blog tour.
Framed poster of cover art
When Daniel Arenson launched his book Earth Alone, he ran a contest where winners received a framed poster of the cover art. This is what the poster looked like:
A swag prize pack
Prize packs make winners feel like they’re opening a gift. Even if the pack includes basic items — one book, bookmarks, branded items like pencils or buttons, makeup, etc. — it’s a way to make a prize feel really special without spending all of your budget.
Check out this giveaway for a swag gift set promoting Leigh Bardugo’s new release, Crooked Kingdom. The set included branded socks, a pin, a temporary tattoo set, a signed poster, and a sample chapter — a much more enticing prize than any one of these items by itself!
Wendy Higgins also gave away a prize pack, which included a signed book, bookmarks, buttons, pencils, perfume, and nail polish.
Signed first edition of a popular book
A signed first edition can make a great prize for loyal fans. To celebrate the launch of her new book, The Singles Game, Lauren Weisberger gave away her entire book collection, which included a signed first edition of her most popular book: The Devil Wears Prada.
A book for the entrant and a friend
There are creative ways to get fans to spread the word of a giveaway aside from simply sharing or liking a social media post. Brenda Novak ran a contest where the prize was two books: one for the contest entrant, and one for their friend. Each entrant needed to tag a friend in the Facebook post… a clever way to get fans to spread awareness of Brenda’s book (since their friends would receive a notification, not just a news feed story).
Readers love books, and they love sipping a warm beverage of choice while reading them! So book-themed mugs can make great prizes. Cheryl Bradshaw gave one away on her Facebook page, and this giveaway got hundreds of entries.
Donations to charity
Contribute to a good cause, and let fans take part in the gift of giving. Simon and Schuster ran a giveaway where they would donate a book to Literacy Partners for every photo posted on Instagram with a specific hashtag.
A phone call with the author
A phone call with the author is a unique and exciting prize for any reader to receive! You don’t need to commit to a set amount of time, so the call can be as long or short as you’d like. Sylvia Day offered a phone call as the prize in an Instagram contest where readers needed to submit one sentence describing why love conquers all.
Autographed bookmarks or bookplates
Signed bookmarks or bookplates are great, personalized giveaway prizes for marketing campaigns on a budget. Kelly Pfeiffer gave away bookplates for her book, Superfoods at Every Meal.
Offering audiobooks as prizes can help you connect with readers who’d rather listen to a particular story. Macmillan and Rainbow Rowell gave away signed audiobooks of Carry On as part of their promotional blog tour.
Sometimes authors give away items that aren’t necessarily relevant to the book they’re promoting, but are unique enough to grab people’s attention. For example, Jennifer L. Armentrout ran a 30-day book giveaway to build buzz for a book launch. Each day she gave away a different book from her backlist, and also included an adorable plush owl (and often some jewelry).
Ereader covers make for unique and functional giveaway prizes. To promote her new book Storming, K.M Weiland gave away book-themed Kindle covers. You could even create customized ereader covers using services like Caseable.
Reading space furniture or accessories
If you have a bigger marketing budget, or if you form a clever co-marketing partnership, you can give away items that help readers improve their reading space. Penguin Random House ran a giveaway where they offered a modern reading nook filled with books.
Book nook furniture is a fairly sizeable prize, but think of other ways you could do something similar with bookends, a hanging wall shelf, or other affordable book nook accessories. Here’s a great bookends giveaway that helped create buzz for D.S. Murphy’s book Shearwater.
Holiday gift bundle
With the holiday season right around the corner, start planning for a holiday-themed giveaway. HarperCollins UK ran a gift-themed giveaway during a previous holiday season.
What are your favorite giveaway prizes? Let us know in the comments below!
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