Book Hub's Book Giveaways have been generating hundreds of new subscribers for our authors over recent months, and gaining in popularity, but one recent giveaway incorporated a competition and her own additional promotional work to break the mould and generate more than 1,250 entries.
Louise Tondeur, who gave away a short story and ran a competition to win six hard-copy books to promote the launch of her new Short Story compilation Unusual Places has kindly told us about her Book Hub experience, and how she ran such a succesful promotion.
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A short story giveaway with Book Hub
I recently launched a short story collection called Unusual Places with a small press called Cultured Llama. I asked Book Hub to run a competition for me, so I could find readers who would like my book – rather than blasting advertising out via social media to people who i) may not even see it ii) may not like reading short stories. So, I deliberately chose a prize that would narrow down the audience (a bundle of short story collections) and gave away a freebie on my website (a new story) that would also only attract people who like stories.
Why I needed help from Book Hub
My email list is tiny, which is why I needed help from Book Hub, who have a big list of engaged readers – it was obviously important to me that the competition was going out to people who already like reading. I’ve worked in education all my life, alongside writing, so when I gave up my job to concentrate on my writing, book marketing was something I needed to learn fast. I’ve been doing a couple of online courses in how to do it, and reading plenty of books over the last year, and it’s been a steep learning curve. By the time I asked Book Hub to run this competition for me, I knew a lot of the strategies, but I was only beginning to try them out. In other words, I was experimenting. Here’s what I did.
Promotion strategies with the biggest impact
Firstly, I made a page on my own website advertising the giveaway, with the same image, and a link to the Book Hub page. That meant I could drive readers to my own website and advertise the giveaway. I used this link on Twitter (in a pinned tweet). After I had done that background stuff, the following two strategies probably had the biggest impact:
- I listed the giveaway on the giveaway sites. I got a couple of recommendations from other writers. (So, it helps to be in Facebook groups for other writers such as ALLi, for example.) A quick google brought up more. Although they do try to tempt you to spend money, I tried to keep this free or very low budget. It would definitely be possible to stick to the free ones.
- I ran a couple of Facebook ads, targeting readers of other short story writers. I used the same image – the pile of books from the competition – and the link to the advert on my site. I learnt how to do this first through my course on digital marketing, and I deliberately kept the budget low. (Don’t do this without learning it carefully first!)
Promoting to existing lists
I promoted the competition to everyone on my existing lists. I did this because I have a small list of people who like my ‘how to write’ books and my books of drama lessons, meaning some of those people might be interested in joining my main list. Failing that they could share a link with friends. I didn’t have very many unsubscribes in fact, but this was also a good way of getting rid of anyone who wasn’t interested. I’ve been emailing my list regularly about how I wrote my short stories ever since. (I wrote most of them out on location in unusual places – hence the title.)
Does Twitter work?
Twitter isn’t a great place for marketing, so the received wisdom goes, so did it work when I promoted the short story book giveaway? Well, firstly I pinned the Tweet about it, but I didn’t blast it out constantly. Twitter was more about engagement for me. Here are the two things I did to try to get Twitter to work for me:
Tweeting blog posts
I wrote blog posts on what I had learnt about book marketing and interviewed other authors about book marketing. This was entirely coincidental – I had started this a year ago and life got in the way – but it meant I had some interesting content to put on my blog, which I tweeted. I also retweeted other people on book marketing. This meant that, without blasting people, some of those who engaged with me saw my pinned tweet about the competition. The fact that I interviewed others was key – it meant the content was more likely to be shared, and it wasn’t all me, me, me. Also, I was authentic – I genuinely wanted to find out about book marketing and I didn’t invent the content to fit the promotion. I started with what I wanted to know and then investigated and wrote about it. The downside is that this was time-consuming.
A Twitter challenge
A year ago, I had set myself the challenge of tweeting 100 x about short stories. I programmed buffer with these tweets and told my Facebook fans and existing (albeit small) list that I was going to do it. That has meant that over the last year I have gradually garnered a moderate twitter following of short story readers and writers. I retweet them – because I’m genuinely interested in short stories myself – and so (although I don’t have loads of time to do it) I was already engaging with people to a certain extent. By the way, at the time I read Dan Blank’s book Be the Gateway, which helped me to think differently about engaging with readers.
The thing I should probably have done – from a marketing point of view anyway – was to track where my traffic was coming from. I have learnt how to do this in theory but haven’t put it into practice. That means I’m guessing what worked and what didn’t. I suspect that the Facebook ads and the listings on the giveaway sites had the biggest impact.
If you’re interested in finding out how I wrote the short stories in my collection ‘on location’ then you can join my mailing list by downloading the free short story on my website: www.louisetondeur.co.uk Or click on ‘blog’ to see the interviews / posts on book marketing.