A few years ago I attended the renowned Boucheron convention, a fan-based convention for mystery and crime fiction. UK comedian-turned-crime fiction-novelist Mark Billingham was one of the many panelists that I listened to that day, but he said something that stuck with me when the words of many other bright lights at the conference faded away. Something I’d never heard a mystery or crime fiction author talk about before.
While I’ve chosen fiction for my own writing, I’ve always been struck by the research and writing skill that’s required for the best non-fiction. Some people are amazed at the fertile imagination of novelists and short story writers, but non-fiction writers pour the same amount of passion and effort into non-fiction writing…and they have to be accurate, resourceful, and truthful with their material (unlike novelists, who lie for a living).
I sponsored a two-week Giveaway of my second short-story collection, Three the Hard Way, a set of three crime fiction stories. I emailed the list of takers from the first Giveaway (about 55 people) and announced in certain other channels (I didn’t want to email blast friends, family, and acquaintances who may have already supported me by buying the collection).
Here are the numbers:
- Although the Giveaway period was shorter than the first by almost two weeks, I had 79 takers, an improvement of 24.
- Of the 79, 55 responded within 7 days. At the time of this writing, 15 haven’t responded at all. With Christmas and New Years in there, I’m happy that the delay wasn’t even greater. I was also curious to see what effect new Kindles and Nooks might have on the Giveaway, but I can’t tell if the (modest) surge was from better exposure or new e-readers.
- The breakdown of requested formats (which might surprise you) to date are:
- 19 Amazon Kindle gifts
- 12 PDF files
- 23 Smashwords coupons
- 10 .epub files
- At the time of this writing, I’ve had
- 6 Amazon reviews
- 8 Goodreads reviews
- 13 Librarything reviews
- 3 Smashwords reviews
- 2 blogger comments
- I offered 450 copies of my book; the reason for the high number is listed here.
- I worked on the description of the book and edited it several times. Basic HTML (bold, italics, links, etc.) is allowed and you can use it to your advantage. A short but powerful description is a must. Some writers in the Giveaway are really missing the boat on this one.
- I made LT and Goodreads “friends” through both Giveaways and I think this is a key to future success.
- It’s not much, but I use the respondent’s first name in the salutation of my letter back to the readers. If the respondent mentions something personal in their reply, I try to make a comment on mine (for instance, one woman was undergoing shoulder surgery the next week and had participated in the Giveaway to get reading material for the recovery, so I wished her well, then sent her a coupon for a free copy of one bad twelve, my master collection of shorts).
- I plan to send out reminders at the one month mark for the “no replies” to encourage them to get their copy.
- I’m still surprised at the number of people, as in my first Giveaway, that signed up for a copy but didn’t respond to me when I emailed asking what format they’d like. I’m not offended by the no response, but it takes some effort to read through my LT description and click “Yes, give me one of those.” Why wouldn’t you send me a one word reply to get a free book?
- I love the Librarything Giveaway opportunity, but their execution of it could be better. The list of winners is simply posted as an HTML table on a webpage. To make use of it, you have to copy and paste into an Excel sheet and massage to get a workable database.Also, if you’ve done more than one giveaway, the most recent group is listed at the end, which leads you to believe they’ve overwritten your new contact data with old. Wouldn’t take much to simply post it above the old.
That’s about it. I may plan a giveaway in the ramp-up towards publishing my first novel, A Reason to Live, this Spring. I’ll post numbers from that and any other Giveaways I take part in. If you’ve had success (or failure) with an LT Giveaway, I’d love to hear about it!