Amazon Giveaways: Now with Ebooks!

Amazon book giveawayAbout a year ago, Amazon instituted a cool feature that allowed anybody who sold anything on Amazon to set up a giveaway on the product page. Unfortunately for indie authors, digital content wasn’t one of the things you could give away. That meant you could set up a contest for free hard copies of your book, but you couldn’t do it for eBooks.

That’s now changed. Last week, KDP announced eBooks may now be used as prizes in Amazon Giveaways. As usual, the Zon is rolling this out to Amazon.com (US) first. So right now, contestants must be residents of one of the fifty U.S. states or the District of Columbia. The person running the contest must have a valid Amazon.com account and a credit card with room to pay for the prizes to be given away. (Yes, sorry, you need to pay for the prizes upfront.) That would seem to indicate that non-U.S. residents can set up a giveaway, but I’m not 100% sure; in any case, your pool of winners is going to be limited to U.S. residents.

This FAQ has the fine print. But basically, you go to the prize’s product page, scroll waaaaaay down (past the reviews, even), and look for this button. Amazon Giveaway That opens a wizard where you set up your giveaway. You can pick the number of items you’re giving away (up to 50 eBooks!) and how (first X entrants, one of every X entrants, etc.), as well as what people have to do to enter. One thing you can have them do is follow your Amazon Author page (you do have one of those, right? We just had a follow-fest for them yesterday!); the other options are following you on Twitter or watching a YouTube video that you’ve chosen for them. amazon giveaway choices(One thing I would recommend is to avoid the “first X entrants” option for awarding prizes. When the print-book giveaway feature was rolled out last year, I seem to recall authors saying the contest was barely open before their prizes were all gone. Let’s make these potential readers work for that prize!)

Once you’ve done all that, you pay for the prizes. Shortly thereafter, Amazon will send you an email with a link to your giveaway – which you are then free to share on social media, email to your newsletter subscribers, and post wherever else you like.

The Zon takes care of all the prize distribution and shipping. But what if you end up with some prizes unclaimed? For physical items like dead-tree copies of your book, Amazon will return the unclaimed items to its stock and give you a refund. For eBooks, you have a choice: you can download them and figure out another way to distribute them, or you can roll them over into a new Amazon Giveaway.

AmazonGiveaways1Don’t worry about an eager contestant stuffing your giveaway box; the Zon will allow only one entry per Amazon.com account.

What if you screw up your contest listing? If you’ve had no entrants, you can cancel your Amazon Giveaway and create a new one. But if anyone has entered, you’ll have to let the thing play out.

That’s pretty much the gist of it. I’d add only that this looks to be a test of sorts for the Zon. Right now, eBooks are the only digital content that can be used as an Amazon Giveaway prize. I think, if all goes well, the concept might spread to music and software – and even maybe (fingers crossed…) to other countries.

Author: Lynne Cantwell

Lynne Cantwell grew up on the shores of Lake Michigan. She worked as a broadcast journalist for many years; she has written for CNN, the late lamented Mutual/NBC Radio News, and a bunch of radio and TV news outlets you have probably never heard of, including a defunct wire service called Zapnews. But she began as a fantasy writer (in the second grade), and is back at it today. She currently lives near Washington, DC. Learn more about Lynne at her blog and at her Amazon author page.

29 thoughts on “Amazon Giveaways: Now with Ebooks!”

  1. This sounds great. I’m a little confused about how we deliver the ebook to the winners? I am definitely going to look into doing this. Thanks for the post!

  2. I only just tried the Amazon giveaway. I chose the option to giveaway a certain number of ebook copies which flew quickly. Depending on the price of your ebook is what you are charged for each copy you decide to giveaway. So I tried ten at 1.99 and my account was charged up front. I love that they included ebooks in the giveaway.

    1. So Amazon charges list price? Since it is a ‘sale’ do they pay the royalty? It’s a nit, but a detail worth tracking when calculating ROI. Net costs after royalty vs. new sales/royalties attributed to the giveaway publicity.

      1. Michael, it’s not a sale — it’s a contest. You’re buying the prizes ahead of time, just as you would if you were running a Rafflecopter or some other contest. The only difference here, as far as that goes, is that the whole thing is taking place within Amazon.

        So yes, you’d pay Amazon the list price for your ebook, and KDP would pay you a royalty on the sale.

  3. Thanks for the post Lynne,
    Most interesting.
    However, although a non-US resident, I can set up print book giveaways, but am not able to do it for my e-novels. Is the Mighty Zon rolling this option piecemeal?

    1. They *may* be rolling it out piecemeal, KJD, but who knows what the Zon will do next? If we hear of the feature being expanded to other countries, we’ll pass the info along. In the meantime — rats and phooey. Sorry it didn’t work out for you. 🙁

  4. I’m in the middle of an eBook Giveaway with the requirment entrants Follow my Amazon Author page. It started yesterday for 7 days and am offering 5 free eBooks. So far I have about 200 entrants (or new Followers) and one winner. The contest was easy to set up and went live in about 4 hours. I’ll do another Giveaway if eBook prizes are left over. One more tool in the author promo box.

  5. Update: Wow, Amazon is fast! I set up a giveaway and it was live within an hour. I’m getting a bunch of twitter followers:).

    Well, we’ll see if I can get some new reviews and maybe even some sales. Things have been slow but I haven’t been doing much of anything to promote my book.

    1. Jill, that’s an interesting question that I hadn’t thought of. I would hope they wouldn’t spike reviews submitted by prize winners. The whole point of giveaways is to give your book a wider audience, after all.

    1. Max, if a bump occurred, it would be at the time of purchase. And I think your purchases would count as sales, so yes, there ought to be a bump. Which would be all to the good, right? 🙂

  6. Question: those of you who set up a giveaway and saw entries start to come in right away, how did entrants find your giveaway? Did you share/promote it yourself, or did people simply start entering as soon as it was listed on Amazon?

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