Monday, September 14, 2015

Freebies, Goodies, and Giveaways - Do They Work?

As you know, I've been working on some different marketing ideas this year to see what works and what doesn't.  I've read advice and opinions.  I've considered it from several angles.  And I'm still pretty much lost. 

For instance, there's the opinion that giving books away translates to sales.  Sounds pretty anti-intuitive, I know, but from what I've read, it's supposed to work.  I tried a free day with Dying Embers.  356 people downloaded a copy.  Sales did not increase afterwards. What I did get was a boatload of sites pirating Dying Embers. I do Goodreads giveaways - where you can enter to win a copy of a paperback of one of my books along with some swag.  (I have one going on right now for Wish in One Hand, as a matter of fact.)  Not sure any of those entries turned into sales after the contest ended.  I did get a review from the winner of Accidental Death, though, so that was good.

I have goodies I give away whenever I get a chance.  Right now, it's bookmarks and postcards.  They're small enough to keep a stock of them in my purse and then handy enough for people to accept even when they're working the cash register at the store.  I like to think those do get me new sales every now and then.  Plus, I like giving them to people.  So win-win.

Occasionally, I'll give a paperback copy of my books to someone locally - the library, the local bookstore, etc.  Since the library system still hasn't cataloged the first two books I gave them back in... June, was it? I know I'm not seeing any sales from that.  The local bookstore gal passes out my books as loaners to people she think will enjoy reading them and maybe will tell others about them.  :shrug:  I enjoy giving her books, so I'm okay with not getting a return on that.

I know other writers have better swag - pens, kitschy items, bookbags, mousepads, etc.  But I'm not sure how that's translating to sales for them.  I'm sure it's promoting good will.  Right now, I can't afford to promote good will without seeing a return on investment. 

What kinds of givies do you like?  Which ones are more likely to encourage you to buy a book in the future? 


  1. I'm not sure swag translates to sales per se but it does get your name out there. What do the sales gurus say about name recognition? Someone has to see your name/product X number of times? It's too early on a Monday for my brain to be fully engaged.

    One of the gals in my RWA chapter carries books with her and passes them out. She says that works for people to either go get her backlist. She made the USA list with one (we'll talk about that privately...) and she thinks she knows a lot about marketing. I think it was more to do with her publisher setting up a street team for her. Whatever.

    I'm still looking for the magic bullet. One of my more successful (buy expensive) were the LED flashlight keyrings with my tag line (the one at that time which has been changed by one word now -- LOL). People liked them and used them name was seen and remembered. Not sure I'd spend that much money again. Siobhan and I are looking at tee shirts for our street team, those would be a limited thing, which hopes they'd wear them and get seen.

    Laying in a stock of imprinted pens--and you can get those fairly cheaply from all sorts of places, might be a good idea. People always need pens and with your name and website, again, gives name recognition. Two other things I've seen that are on my "when I have the fundage" list are imprinted koosies and imprinted cork coasters--things people will use on their desks, in their homes, so others see them too.

    And now I need more coffee! LOLOL

  2. Wish I knew. Think Everest. I'm still trying to get to the base camp. Silver mentioned name recognition and that's what I'm aiming for right now. Sales would be nice too. Or reviews. For myself as a reader? Bookmarks still work because they can be recycled. Not pens as I'm very particular about my pens. I've heard readers say they like the to-go cups, especially for cold drinks. But I also don't want to giveaway things that are going to end up in the garbage 2 days later. Not because it's a waste of my money but because the environment needs less of that kind of thing.

  3. I use Goodreads giveaways purely to get reviews. Out of five copies each of three books, I've gotten one review. Not sure it's worth it. (But it was a lovely review. :-D )

    I enjoy getting swag, but I suspect it's a poor ROI until you have several books out there.

  4. Gosh I don't know what to say first. I think you're all in a really difficult position with this as whatever you giveaway you have to buy first and some of those things are hideously expensive. Most of my reading is done on my ipad so I don't even use that many bookmarks these days, but they are still very welcome. I don't know that they'd encourage me to buy particular books though. In fact I'm not sure what would.

    I think you're probably right using Goodreads or any other reader based site to promote your work and giving a book away encourages people to enter. I've won ARCs / books through the blogs of authors I follow, such as yourself, Lynn Viehl, Lauren Dane & Christine Feehan, and have gone on to the purchase the books anyway.

    You stuck between a rock & a hard place, and I don't think there's one answer, but it seems to me you're doing everything right.

    Oh yeah .... what's a koozie?

    1. A koozie is the foam (usually) insulation thingy you put around a cup or can to keep it cool, or to keep it from burning your fingers. That one is something I'd think people would save, since it's useful. :-)