Giveaways and contests are a fantastic book promotion tactic. Whether you’re trying to promote a book launch or create buzz for a backlist title, giveaways are a great way to grab readers’ attention! 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. And suddenly, your readers are helping spread the word, whether it’s by broadcasting your book to their friends and followers, or by creating new great content around your titles!
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.
Signed copies from multiple authors
When multiple authors join forces for a group book giveaway, the prize tends to be more interesting (many free books are 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. Adding in signatures can make these book bundles even more enticing!
A.L. Jackson ran a romance-themed signed book giveaway with five other authors. The group also threw in a fun “I Read Kissing Books” pillow to match the reading material!
In honor of World Book Day, Nizrana Farook teamed up with other children’s authors to give away a hefty stack of books. Not only did the writers pledge to sign the titles, they also offered to dedicate them to the winner’s school, class, or library.
Clothing and other wearable items like bags or headbands can be exciting prizes for readers eager to represent an author or book they care about. And it doesn’t hurt that if you give away something wearable connected to your books, fans can become walking advertisements for you. Sandhya Menon picked a lucky reader to win a fun shirt with several of her characters’ names.
In the leadup to her paperback release, Leah Johnson gave away a delightful custom backpack inspired by her book.
Aiden Thomas ran an Instagram giveaway offering up a gorgeous set of branded pins.
An ereader loaded with a book
Ereaders are a pricier prize, but can be worth the extra exposure you get by offering something with a higher value. To celebrate her release day, Casey Dembowski gave away a free Kindle preloaded with her new book.
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. Tashie Bhuiyan announced her ARC giveaway on TikTok, making sure to highlight the fun content readers could expect from her upcoming release.
Annotated books or ARCs
Getting exclusive access to an author’s writing insights and behind-the-scenes thoughts can be extremely intriguing for readers. Fans who interacted with Chloe Gong’s giveaway tweet and left a review for her book were entered to receive an annotated ARC filled with fun doodles and musings.
Namina Forna ran a birthday giveaway of an annotated ARC of her new book, sharing that she might even recruit her author friends to add their signatures to the prize! In order to enter the competition, her fans only needed to show a proof of preorder or of local library request.
Shared content book bundles
Giving away several books that have subject matter in common can provide an awesome experience for readers interested in that specific content. Ali Hazelwood shared the news that her publisher, Berkley, was running a giveaway of four romances centering on women in STEM (including her new title, of course!).
National Geographic Kids Books gave away a “jaw-some” assortment of shark-themed books for readers of all ages.
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. Kandi Steiner presented $50 Amazon gift cards along with signed paperbacks to three talented winners of her photo contest.
During the Preorder Campaign for her new book, Lori M. Lee selected a winner every couple of weeks to get a $20 gift card to the independent bookstore of their choice. All readers needed to do to enter the contest was retweet Lori’s announcement or share her preorder graphic.
Book posters can be an exciting giveaway item since they allow fans to show off their love for an author’s work. St. Martin’s Press ran a sweepstakes where winners received one of 250 posters inspired by J.D. Robb’s series.
Readers love devouring books, but why not give them something they can actually eat? Non-perishable edible items can be creative and delicious prizes to dole out, especially when they’re related to a book you’re marketing. As part of her preorder campaign, Emery Lee ran a competition with this adorable s’mores kit as the prize. The marshmallows even had her new book’s title emblazoned on them!
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 TikTok giveaway for a gift basket promoting Trinity Lemm’s new release. The set included a notebook, a candle, cute pens, a signed copy of her book, a mini letterboard, and decor items — a much more enticing prize than any one of these items by itself!
Stephanie Garber collaborated with her publisher, Flatiron Books, to award a care package with gorgeous book-branded items like a keychain and a journal to a fortunate winner.
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, Lauren Weisberger gave away her entire book collection, which included a signed first edition of her most popular book: The Devil Wears Prada.
Prizes 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. Amy Harmon ran a contest where the prize was two signed books for the contest entrant and two for their friend, with both lucky individuals also receiving a map of the setting of Amy’s series. Each entrant needed to tag a friend in the Facebook post… a clever way to get fans to spread awareness for Amy’s books (since their friends would receive a notification, not just a news feed story).
Bloomsbury UK took to Twitter to award one deluxe goodie bag for an entrant and one for their friend, also asking the participants to tag their pal in the comments.
Character cards have become a popular prize to give out — readers often appreciate the artistic designs and the chance to get acquainted with a book’s players. Susan Dennard took to Instagram to announce the opportunity for fans to win the full set of beautiful character cards from her series.
To match her card-inspired cover, Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé gave away creative character designs made to look like actual playing cards.
Subscription to a streaming service
Offering subscriptions to various streaming services can be a great way to give back to fans, especially when you can give access to the platform where readers can find a TV or film version of an author’s book. In honor of the Netflix adaptation of Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse books, Macmillan announced a sweepstakes to win the full book series along with a yearlong Netflix membership.
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 competition got hundreds of entries.
Donations to charity
Contribute to a good cause, and let fans take part in the gift of giving. Simon & Schuster ran a giveaway where they would donate a book to Literacy Partners for every photo posted on Instagram with a specific hashtag.
Debbie Macomber gave away a grand prize that included a $250 gift card to a charity fighting Australian bushfires in her newsletter.
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. Darren Simpson gave away signed bookmarks for his new book on Twitter.
Kalynn Bayron included a signed bookplate as part of her giveaway celebrating her new YA fantasy novel.
Offering audiobooks as prizes can help you connect with readers who’d rather listen to a particular story. Amelia Hutchins joined forces with ten other urban fantasy and paranormal romance writers to give away an audiobook from each author to one lucky winner.
Sarah Sundin announced on her Facebook page that she’d be running a reader photo contest where five winners would receive the audio version of her new book.
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, K.M Weiland gave away book-themed Kindle covers. You could even create customized ereader covers featuring your book title or cover art 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 sizable prize, but there are many other ways you could do something similar with bookends, a hanging wall shelf, or other affordable book nook accessories. To celebrate publication of Kate Sawyer’s new title, Hodder & Stoughton ran a competition with bookends that matched the book’s subject matter as a prize.
Holiday gift bundle
Hosting festive sweepstakes is a great way to get readers in the holiday spirit! Harlequin ran a Christmas-themed giveaway during a previous holiday season.
Christmas isn’t the only occasion that presents an opportunity for a celebratory giveaway! Halloween and Valentine’s Day are other popular options, but lots of holidays can be a fun chance for offering a prize bundle. Kensington Books ran a St. Patrick’s Day giveaway during a previous holiday season.
Having a character named after you isn’t a physical prize, but it is an honor many book fans would find extremely meaningful. James Fahy ran a competition to determine which of his readers would have their name featured in the next book of his series.
What are your favorite giveaway prizes? Let us know in the comments below!
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Click to tweet: Want to run a contest to promote a book launch? Here are great ideas for prizes you can offer:
🏆 Wearable items
🏅 A phone call with the author
🏆 Autographed bookmarks
🏅 Gift cards
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Click to tweet: Want to run a contest to promote a book launch? Here are great ideas for prizes you can offer! #writetip #pubtip https://bit.ly/3uekbjD
This post was originally published on October 5, 2016.