Friday, July 1, 2016

Ways to Market Your Book - Amazon Followers and Giveaways

See the yellow button under my photo?
That's Amazon's Follow program.
Please Follow me on Amazon!
In the previous post we talked about how to get reviews for your book posted on Amazon, Goodreads, and elsewhere. In the four posts before that, from February to May, we walked through the process of getting your book up and running on Kindle. This month, whether your book is on Kindle or is a print book, we are going to talk about some exciting programs Amazon has made available which can help you market your books.

These programs are Amazon's "Followers" and "Giveaways" programs. (Tweet that!) Let's talk about Amazon Followers first, and then we'll talk about Amazon Giveaways.

Amazon Followers

Amazon launched its Follower program in July 2015. If you haven't noticed it, log in to your Amazon account, go to your own author page or the page of an author you'd like to follow, and click the yellow follow button under the author's image. You can see the yellow Follow button under my photo in the image above.

Don't have an Amazon author page?! We're going to talk about that next month.

Amazon does not let us know how many Followers we have. There's no way to find out. However to know that you have at least one, you can follow yourself.

Just what does it mean to have Amazon Followers? Amazon will send out a message to your Followers whenever you release a new book.  (Tweet that!)

You Might be Invited to Talk to Your Amazon Followers

Also, Amazon might invite you, the author, to send out a personal message to your Followers. (Tweet that!) Right now this feature is by invitation only. However I have been invited to send that message several e-books I've released in the past year.

The invitation from Amazon comes in an email. The subject line of the email says something like "a question about your book." When you open the email, you'll see Amazon is asking if you'd like to send a message to your Followers. Obviously it's a no-brainers to take advantage of this opportunity.

At first I didn't really know what to write in my message, But I studied what some of the other authors have written and used that as a guideline.I try to keep my messages short. And I try to use all the best practices I know about selling to customers. (Now that's a huge topic for another time. Or another e-book.)

I have noticed a few things about these messages Amazon sends to our Followers:
  1. My message goes out to my Followers a few days after I write it. (I know this because I follow myself so I get my own messages.)
  2. Apparently Amazon sends the messages from authors out even at later dates. I have received messages about books that came out quite some time ago after following authors.
  3. You can edit the messages you send. I assume then the edited message will go out to new Followers.

It's my understanding that not all authors are invited to send a message to their Followers, so it's possible you may not get that invitation. If you don't, it doesn't mean you've done something wrong, made Amazon mad at you, or Amazon doesn't like your book, as I've heard some authors speculate. I think it's just a program that is developing. Maybe Amazon's algorithms analyze how many books an author has available, how many sales, how many Followers ... in other words, how active the author is. I don't know, I'm just guessing.

How to Get Amazon Followers

So the question I'm sure your wondering about is, how do we get Followers? (Tweet that!) I've been letting my contacts know they can Follow me on Amazon by putting a notice in my email signature line: "Please follow me on Amazon" with a link to my Amazon page. I put the same info in a Tweet that goes out regularly. We can also put a notice on Facebook occasionally.

Another way -- perhaps the best way I've found so far to gather a lot of Followers -- is to use Amazon's Giveaway program. We will talk this more in a little bit under Giveaways.

Related Articles on Amazon Followers:

Here are a couple of articles I found helpful where you can learn more about Amazon Followers:

Amazon Giveaways

In 2015 Amazon started its Giveaway program. This year Amazon added e-books and products "fulfilled by Amazon" (FBA) to its Giveaway program. Go to Amazon and look at a produce, perhaps your book or e-book. Scroll down below the reviews. Look for a button that says "Set up an Amazon Giveaway."

This is a great program for authors because we can give away our own books and it becomes a great advertising tool. (Tweet that!)
"During the week that a contest runs, traffic to the product pages for the giveaway prizes increases by more than 40 percent in weekly growth, Amazon said."  Geek Wire
Another way authors can use Amazon's Giveaway program, is to give away something that compliments their book. (Tweet that!)

How Amazon Giveaways Work

I ran my first Giveaway in May in the week before Mother's Day. I chose to give away two copies of my print book Deliver Me.

Here's how an Amazon Giveaway works: First you will purchase the products that you're going to give away. Amazon will charge you for the estimated taxes and shipping. Amazon will also run the entire Giveaway. And when it's over, they will ship the prizes to your winners.

Now that Amazon has added e-books to its Giveaway program, it's very easy and inexpensive for an author to run a Giveaway for his or her own e-book. We still earn the royalties on the e-book, so the cost is very low. (Tweet that!)
"Authors can reward entrants with their work in eBook form, so they pay no shipping fees." Geek Wire 

How to Set Up an Amazon Giveaway

Setting up an Amazon Giveaway is fairly simple. Click on the "Set up an Amazon Giveaway" button. You will see three choices for types of Giveaways: random, lucky number, first come first-served. I chose the random and had decided to give two copies of my book as prizes. 

When I set up my Giveaway, I kept getting an error message and it took me awhile to figure out the problem. In the second box under "select a rule for winning," it seemed to me that box was already filled in according to how many prizes I had selected. So I just let it stay as it was. But I couldn't move past this page because I kept getting an error message. I finally figured out that I had to fill in a number in that box. 

I had no idea how many participants I would have in my first Giveaway so I had no idea what number to put in that box. I finally decided on 200. That meant my participants had a one in 200 chance to win. Once I figured out to put a number in that box, I didn't get an error message and I could finish setting up my Giveaway.

I didn't know if 200 would be a low number or a high number for my first Giveaway. Now I wish I would've set a higher number because I hit more than 200 on the second day, I think. Next time I plan to choose a much higher number -- say 2,000.

Next you can choose a requirement for everyone entering your Giveaway. This is what makes sponsoring an Amazon Giveaway a real gem for authors. (Tweet that!) There are five choices that you can select from: follow you on Amazon, follow you on twitter, watch a short video, watch a YouTube video, or no additional requirements.

I selected the requirement to Follow me on Amazon. I had 267 participants before Amazon shut down my Giveaway because all the prizes had been given away. So presumably I now have 267 new Followers on Amazon.
"Authors using Amazon Giveaway can require contest entrants to follow them and their books on Amazon. The feature has resulted in 300,000 new Author Follows since it launched, Amazon said."  Geek Wire
If you want to build up your Twitter platform, you might want to choose the requirement to follow you on Twitter.
"To date, this feature has generated over 2.8 million new Twitter followers, Amazon said." Geek Wire
I haven't yet tried making a short video or YouTube video, but I can see how that would be tremendously valuable for authors. Can't you?

You will need to choose the duration of your Giveaway. You can choose from one to seven days. I read in an article that for some products you can choose up to thirty days if your Giveaway includes an e-book. I haven't yet seen that option for myself yet, but then I haven't tried a Giveaway with an e-book yet.

On the next page I was surprised to see that I needed to set up the Welcome page. You will also need to name your Giveaway. You can upload an image. I used the image of my book. Duh.

Messages to Your Amazon Giveaway Participants!

Then you have the opportunity to write a welcome message to everyone entering your Giveaway. You get from 10 to 250 characters.

After that you get to write a message for the win page and a separate message for the lose page, also 10 to 250 characters. All of these messages can be of great value for authors to market their books and to speak directly to their readers.

Finally, you have the opportunity to limit who sees your Giveaways. You can reduce the likelihood that participants will share your Giveaway with their friends. I wasn't sure what to do with that. But since I was trying to reach the widest audience to let them know about my book Deliver Me, I did not choose that limiting option.

The next page is where you check out and actually purchase the items that will be given away. Once you've created your Giveaway it cannot be changed.

Let People Know About Your Giveaway!

It takes a little time at Amazon to go live, but when your Giveaway is up and running Amazon will send you an email which will include a link to your Giveaway. You will have a Dashboard where your Giveaway is listed. When I have wanted to review my Giveaway, I've had a hard time figuring out how to find my Giveaway Dashboard. So far I have been able to find the link in my browser history. There is supposed to be an easier way but I haven't figured it out yet.

Your Giveaway will have its own link. This is the link you need to share so people can find your Giveaway.

As always, if you don't let people know about it, no one will know it's there. Use Twitter, Facebook posts, other social media, and email to tell people about your Giveaway. (Tweet that!)

Use a hashtag like #AmazonGiveaway. And don't forget to provide the link to your Giveaway in each of your Tweets and posts! 

A Few More Details About Amazon Giveaways

Amazon takes care of everything else. They make sure that people enter only once according to their email address. They do everything to run your Giveaway, and when it's finished they ship the prizes you've already paid for to the winners.

I wish Amazon Giveaways could be set up in advance, however that option is not available. So you have to be thinking about when you want your Giveaway to run and be ready to set it up on the day that you want it to start.

Amazon Giveaways are not connected to you as an author. Anyone can run them using any product on Amazon that allows it. In the same way anyone could use your book as a Giveaway ... which is not a bad thing for an author! (Tweet that!) It might be a good practice to suggest that to people or organizations that our book compliments!

I think Amazon Giveaways can be a powerful way to gain Followers on Amazon, Twitter followers, or to speak to potential readers and book buyers. How might you use this feature to promote your books? (Tweet that!)

One of the articles I read suggested authors might run an Amazon Giveaway during an Amazon Countdown promotion. (Tweet that!) This would generate even more traffic and attention to your book. And an added benefit would be that the cost to you as the Giveaway sponsor would be less when you're buying your own book on sale.

(An Amazon countdown is a sale you can run if your book is an e-book in Kindle's "Select" program. For more information see the benefits of participating in Kindle Select.)

Related Articles on Amazon Giveaways:

Here are a couple of articles where you can learn more about Amazon Giveaways and how they can benefit authors:

If you'd like to know when I'm running specials on my books and e-books, please subscribe to my newsletter. You'll get notices when I'm releasing a new book, when my books and e-books are going to go on sale, a few Freebie documents to help you, and more:

This month, why don't you have fun building up your Amazon Followers? Think about setting up a Giveaway to promote your book or e-book.

Related Articles: 


  1. Terrific information - thank you -- headed to do my giveaway now!

    1. Great, Carol! So glad this article helped you. Good luck with your giveaway!

  2. Thank you, Dianne. You are always so clear in your explanations and include what we really need to hear. I just posted my first #AmazonGiveaway. Eager to see what happens.

    1. Yay you, Kathy! Thanks for letting me know this article helped you. I hope you see great results and benefits. If you get a chance, stop back by and let us know how it goes and if you see any impact with your book marketing. Congratulations on your new book baby!

  3. I'm taking the first step, now. By following my page. Thanks for the nudge, Dianne!

    1. You're welcome, Sally! Glad to nudge you. I just went and followed your page too. :-D And you just inspired me to Follow that other commentors - Kathy and Carol - also! Done.

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