Friday, 3 September 2010

Buy none, get one free - Anne Rooney

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.

www.annerooney.co.uk
Stroppy author's guide to publishing

12 comments:

Anna Bowles said...

From my experience as an editor, promotions work. I last had experience while working mostly on high-profile characters though - things like Mr Men where you could feasibly do a big promo with a newspaper, and people had heard of the series anyway. However, I think free copies are useful for smaller launches as well. It's a way of kick-starting the word of mouth process: someone who gets a free book is likely to read it, and enthuse to their friends that they got a free book.

Mystica said...

Of course someone would enter a giveaway because one would want to read the book presumably. In this case one would want it for a child one would like to gift it to. Well that is a good thing because if you could get a child to read these days its wonderful.

Sue Barrow said...

I'm running a competition quiz on my website and FB page to coincide with the launch of my Hometown History books for kids - prizes are copies of the books. It was just an idea I had to promote interest in the titles(and I love writing quizzes!)Difficult to see how you could track any link to sales though.

Lucy Coats said...

Anne--I think it is hard to quantify sales benefits too. What I do know is that giveaways and competitions get your name out there--and the winners will definitely enthuse about you. Is it worth it? I think so, even if it's generated 4 books sold and a load of goodwill, that's better than nothing at all. I'm quite sure GG&G is destined to be a winner--perfect for small boy Christmas present, whether reluctant reader or not.

adele said...

I'm with Lucy on this. It's hard and maybe even impossible to quantify but hey, it can't hurt! Good luck with it. Sounds just the kind of book to appeal to lots of children and not just reluctant readers.

Katherine Roberts said...

"You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink..."

I think promotions of this kind are rather like leading readers to the book. You can't make them buy/read it, but if you don't lead them there then they won't be able to.

Julie P said...

I'm with you when it comes to reluctant readers. For the past year I've been a volunteer reader at my daughter's primary school. I have a list of 24 children who don't read much, if at all, at home and are consequently behind in their reading targets.

It's been a fascinating experience and I think schools are crying out for new and innovative books that challenge the kids but engage them also. Some of the books they have are so dry and boring it's no wonder the kids don't want to read - boys aged 7-10 are the most reluctant readers and the hardest to get on board I've found.

I hope your book sales go well and you manage to entice those tricky readers!

Julie

Stroppy Author said...

Julie - enter the competition, then! I am quite happy to give the copies to schools and libraries :-)

Thank you, everyone for sharing your thoughts. It sounds as if it's a worthwhile activity. I really would like to target schools, but it's going to take a bit of effort to find out where teachers and librarians might be looking...

Linda said...

With regard to publicity at libraries - I volunteer at my local public library, and they always seem happy to have opportunities for activities which are colourful, and easy to organise. There's a box of pictures to colour in, and some crayons, permanently on the table in the children's corner, and every time I go in somebody's sitting there happily colouring while parent chooses books. I also use a lot of word searches, crosswords and simple quizzes with my Chatterbooks group - plenty of opportunities for publicity there, and we're always glad to have it provided for us. You can just email stuff like that to the library manager or Chatterbooks coordinator if they have one. There are themes, too, for holidays (we're doing 'monsters' for the October half term, so I can display stuff for your book at my local library if you like, or you could contact the Medway children's librarian).
There's a magazine we use for Chatterbooks called 'Tbk', so books in that get good publicity - but you probably already know that one.

Parents do talk to me about children in the family who don't/won't read, and I would target them rather than the children. Freebies are great, although I think bookmarks can get a bit tedious. Book extracts, games, colouring sheets and posters (and a free book!) will definitely go down well.

Basically, any activity or competition which requires little or no time from busy librarians is going to be well received.

Jan Markley said...

I agree with Lucy - it's good for promotional purposes to get your books out there and generate a little good will, especially if you can get it into the hands of a reluctant reader.

jacop said...

it is hard to quantify sales benefits too. What I do know is that giveaways and competitions get your name out there--and the winners will definitely enthuse about you. Is it worth it? I think so, even if it's generated 4 books sold and a load of goodwill, that's better than nothing at all. I'm quite sure destined to be a winner--perfect for small boy Christmas present, whether reluctant reader or no
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