Do giveaways and competitions work as a way of promoting a book? Following Mary Hoffman's suggestion, I'm about to try it for the first time. My book Grim, Gross and Grisly was published by Barrington Stoke at the end of August and the editor agreed to give me extra copies to give away (I wouldn't have thought to ask, so thank you, Mary).
I've seen lots of other people promoting their books on twitter and blogs by offering copies as prizes but never done it myself before. This isn't just laziness and a dislike of promotional activities. Many of my readers - particularly of the reluctant-reader books - probably won't be on twitter or my blog because, well, they're reluctant to read! So this is a bit of an experiment. I guess it will be a competition for parents rather than readers, and that's fine, but I'd like to reach those reluctant readers who don't have someone looking out for them, perhaps because they come from a household where other people don't read or don't value reading. So I'll be very happy if librarians and teachers enter the contest - you only have to send in a yukky fact of your own, about humans or animals. Full details are on my blog. (Of course, the book is also readable by enthusiastic and accomplished readers, and anyone can enter.)
I guess it's hard to tell whether competition/give-away success relates to increased book sales, so I doubt I'll ever know if it 'works' in a promotion sense. But I don't really care. I'm not after book sales, just getting the book into the hands of some children who might not otherwise see it and might like it. Obviously the publisher wants book sales, though. Has anyone who's done this before seen increased sales for books they have given away? And does it matter whether it's a book the competition-enteree wants for themselves or whether they are going to give it away? I can see it helps promote our own blogs and twitter presences as writers, but does it help the publisher at all (especially if, like me, you publish with lots of different publishers)? Please do share your give-away experiences in the comments - it's something I haven't really thought about before and I'd love to know how it works for different kinds of books and writers.
Stroppy author's guide to publishing