So, you want to promote your book or novel? Host a creative contest! Authors who go the self-publishing route usually find themselves charged with their own marketing, and even those who are traditionally published often promote their novels on their own.
When your book is released—or is due out soon—why not take advantage of social media and host a contest to promote your book and connect with your readers? Even if you don’t have a book ready for publication, a contest can boost your name recognition and author platform. It’s easy and fun!
10 Tips to Host a Contest to Promote Your Book
1. Come up with a creative idea for your contest that helps spread the word.
- Ask your followers on your blog, Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest to forward or share a particular post in order to enter the contest.
- Ask readers of your blog or fan page to post a comment that answers a question like, “If you could be any character in a novel, who would it be?”
- Have your readers participate in a photo caption contest. Use a photo that connects to your book if possible and offer a couple of sample captions (humorous is best!).
- If you are the author of a series, ask readers to come up with the title of your next book, the name of your next villain, or your next setting.
- Post a prize on your blog and enter anyone who leaves a comment into the drawing.
- If you’re self-publishing, you have more control over your book cover design. Ask your readers to vote on one of two options.
- Consider granting extra entries if a reader subscribes to your blog, follows you on Twitter, etc. If the entrant tweets about your book, shares a link, and leads another visitor to your site, they gain an extra entry for another chance at the prize.
2. Publicize. Announce your contest on all your social media accounts, and don’t forget writers’ forums. Use the word “contest” in the title and make sure to mention the prize. (Who doesn’t love to win something?)
3. Set clear rules. Make sure the rules and deadline are clearly stated, and keep the time frame short to motivate people to enter right away. Be sure your rules do not violate (or would cause a user to violate) your social media’s terms of service.
4. Choose your prize carefully. The better the reward, the more participants will enter. You can offer a $25 gift card to Starbucks or to a bookstore, a little treasure lying around your house, or something tied directly to your book’s genre or theme. Have you written a western? A small horse pendant may be the perfect reward.
Or offer your readers a chance to become part of your next book and create a character based on the winner. Think carefully before offering a free copy of your book as a prize. (For more tips on prizes and giveaways, see our article: Your Self-Published Book: Promoting with Giveaways.)
5. Why limit yourself to a book launch? Consider hosting a contest during special events or holidays with a tie-in to your book, and offer a special holiday-themed prize.
6. Keep it simple. If your followers have to jump through hoops in order to enter your contest, they’re much less likely to follow through.
7. Follow the rules. Be sure to follow all the guidelines and regulations for hosting contests on different social media sites. If you fail to follow the rules, you run the risk of seeing your page or profile removed.
8. Be thankful. Make it clear that you appreciate your loyal readers and that you’re using the contest as a way to reward them. When fans feel appreciated, they’re more likely to promote your book to others.
9. Check out the competition. Research other authors’ contests to see what makes them appealing or not. Is the prize tempting? If you wouldn’t take the time to enter, your readers probably won’t either.
10. Follow up. Don’t leave your winner hanging…get that prize out to them immediately! Make sure to announce the winner. You can also feature an interview with the winner in your next blog post.
Hosting creative contests is a great way to promote your book or novel, and the more you can stand out from the crowd the better. Find inspiration from your work and tailor a contest that is as unique and creative as you are!
Photo by Heather Cowper
QUESTION: Have you ever hosted (or entered) a promotional contest?