book promotion

Giveaway Gamble


I’m running a giveaway. I never thought I would, so I’m rather surprised. But I’ve reached a point in my writing where I want to put it to the test. Which means I’m going to pay to build a mailing list in the hope that enough people will like what they read to make it worth my while. Eventually.

Here’s the deal. I’m giving away 12 paperbacks in a raffle. To enter, you simply need to give me your email address. Then you’ll be on my mailing list, from which you can of course unsubscribe at any moment. The winner gets the grand prize but all entrants get a free ebook of One Green Bottle. In a forthcoming newsletter, I’ll be announcing the release of the sequel, Perfume Island, in September. So then I’ll see how many people liked the first book enough to want the second.

I could do this without the giveaway, via my blog. But after a couple of years, my mailing list stands at 67, which means it’ll get to a thousand around the time of my 112th birthday. Blogging is good for all sorts of things but not for getting readers.

The giveaway will be up soon on That costs me just $5 (or $10 for a featured promotion). If I don’t do that, only my blog readers would find it, which kind of defeats the purpose. So if I get n people signing up, it’ll be money well spent . How big is n? Some giveaways draw more than 1000 entrants, but I’m not getting my hopes up – let’s say 300. I’d be quite happy with that. Less than 200? Mweh. The cost of the prize plus postage will be around $200: given that some of the entrants will (a) unsubscribe from the newsletter, (b) either not read or not like One Green Bottle, (c) read and enjoy it but not go on to Perfume Island, there needs to be a large number of entrants for this gamble to come off.

The raffle winner will be chosen by an online random name picker, into which I’ll feed the names of the entrants myself. There are services which can do this for you, along with a host of other frills. The best, apparently, is KingSumo, which costs $200 (one-off payment – it’s yours then for life), but it only works on sites, not The other main two are Rafflecopter and Gleam. There are free versions to both of these, but if you want them to collect emails (which after all is the point of the whole exercise), they cost respectively $43 and $39 a month. You can run your giveaway for just a month, then downgrade again to free, but still it’s another expense, so for this first bash I’m not using them. Maybe next time – if there ever is one. This time I’ll get the emails by having entrants sign up on a landing page.

So that’s the background. I’ll report back on results when the giveaway ends. Meanwhile, would you like to head over here and tell me what you think? Have I done it right? Any blunders you can see? If you do, I’d be grateful if you could let me know before I post it on givewaypromote. And of course, don’t hesitate to enter yourself – you might even win.


17 thoughts on “Giveaway Gamble

  1. GD Deckard says:

    I see people on Facebook bragging they have over 10,000 free books. They are no more likely to purchase one than they are to read the ones they have. I doubt they can name many of the authors.
    Freebies like Internet Explorer were to corner the browser market. A mailing list of readers who like free books is hardly a market for selling books.
    Freebies like Google make money through advertisements.
    Free books? I don’t see a revenue stream there. At all. Ever. Free books plus a free bonus? That’s surreal.

    Sorry, Curtis. I really wish you all the best! But I honestly don’t see this idea as profitable.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Sure, it’s a gamble, but calculated. Profitable? I’m thinking maybe three or four years down the line. Yes, there are plenty of freeloaders but I’ve read of 20% to 30% of the mailing list who will then go on to buy.The prize needs to be relevant – hence books, not cash – but there are still people out there actually prepared to pay for a book if they like what they’ve already read by that author.
      So lots of gambles in this, but I’ve been fortunate so far in not having to spend on editing and covers, thanks to professional help from friends. I don’t know how much I’m willing to spend on promoting – not a huge amount. But I’m coming round to the idea that that there has to be some expense, otherwise it remains invisible. Whether this is the right way to set about it remains to be seen – I’ll keep you posted.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. atthysgage says:

    I salute you, Curtis, and wish you luck. This is more ambitious than anything I have tried. And while I share some of GD’s doubts, I still think it’s worth trying. It probably, frankly, won’t be profitable in the conventional sense of the word. But it could still help you build up a fan base and name recognition. Could. Others have made this kind of thing work (at least I’m pretty sure they have), but it’s a long haul. You have my respect for taking a stab at proactivity, and I’m ready to write a review of Perfume Island whenever it’s available.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks, Atthys. I just reached the point where I thought I have to do something, so yes, a bit of proactivity! Partly it comes from being more confident now that there are enough people who’d like the first two books, so there’s a potential audience there I just have to reach. I’m jittery, sure, but it’s underway now – too late to turn back!
      Many thanks for the review offer – your support is precious.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. mimispeike says:

    The imperative for a writer is to get himself known. Making money should be our least concern, to start with.

    We all have too many books waiting to be read. Make your case for why yours is the next one a browser should attack. (I assume these sites have bulk promotional pages that can be skimmed.)

    Am I right? Show us your sales pitch.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Become known, get an audience – absolutely. You’re quite right, expecting to make money from the start is an illusion. So that’s what this is all about – money maybe later, if ever.
      The sales pitch isn’t called for at this point – yes, my blurb is on the landing page, but if they get to that, they’ve already thought they’ll sign up, so it’s just to convince those still hesitant. Then the appeal must come from the book itself.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Perry Palin says:

    Hope this works, Curtis, and I too will be watching and hoping for good reports.

    I have a former brother-in-law who wrote eight fantasy novels (I don’t know if they were any good, I never read any of them) and he said he’d be a millionaire author soon. He self-published the first of his novels, put some dough into buying reviews and on other promotions, but he never had a mailing list. He never made it to millionaire status, his investment was lost; I heard he sold two copies of his book.

    The list of followers is all important. I know that, even with my narrow niche short story collections. If your giveaway works, I’ll be ready to do it with my (still unpublished) first novel.m

    Liked by 4 people

    • Thanks for encouragement, Perry. From the many, many sites and forums I’ve read, the mailing list is indeed key. And the way to build it quickly is through giveaways. So I hope what I’ve read is true! Interim report in July when the giveaway ends. Then it’ll be a bit longer before I know what effect, if any, it has on sales.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. GD Deckard says:

    Today, I queried the question on Facebook & received the following positive reply.

    Q. Has any author made a profit giving away books?
    A. Zachry Wheeler: Oh yes, I would attribute a large amount of my profits to giveaways. At a baseline, they are designed to be word-of-mouth builders. If you leverage them correctly, the spidering effect can be huge, especially considering the wide reach of social media. And, it doesn’t cost you anything. It’s a free marketing tool that actually works, can’t say that very often.

    Liked by 3 people

    • atthysgage says:

      My experience with giveaways it that I nearly break even. The money I spend on promoting the giveaway, mostly comes back (about 80% or so) in the form of sales after the giveaway and people who read the book on Kindle Unlimited. We’re not talking a lot of money. I might spend 75 dollars promoting the giveaway, and end up earning 60 back. I don’t have any evidence so far that this contributes to long term sales but at least the book is out there. If 30 people read a book of mine, well, that’s 30 more than under normal circumstances.

      Liked by 4 people

      • Thanks for those figures, Atthys. Nearly breaking even isn’t too bad, and as you say, at least it’s nice to know the book is being read. I’ll only see what effect this has when Perfume Island comes out. I don’t expect to break even with that, but maybe with book n° 3 😐

        Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for that, GD – it’s encouraging. I presume Zachry Wheeler is talking about giving away his own ebook, which can indeed bring in new readers if one’s social media reach is large enough. Since mine isn’t, I’m hoping this more ambitious giveaway will do the trick.

      Liked by 1 person

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