This is part of the Bittersweet Book Launch case study, where Dan Blank and Miranda Beverly-Whittemore share the yearlong process of launching her novel. You can view all posts here.
By Miranda Beverly-Whittemore
Defining the Giveaway
Two or three days after we’d first hatched the giveaway plan, we had a much firmer grip on the logistics:
1) Dan found an image of a Columbia House tape/record club that perfectly captured that nerdy/friendly vibe we loved, and we decided to replace the tapes in the image with books.
2) We decided to host the giveaway on my website, MirandaBW.com. This would mean that Dan and I would be able to keep a firm handle on the logistics, and also, since he and I would be working on the day-to-day, nitty gritty part of this giveaway, that I’d be getting “paid back” for all that work with a (hopefully) sharp increase of traffic to my website, and the chance to introduce myself to lots of folks who’ve never heard of me or Bittersweet before.
3) We decided to start the giveaway on Monday, April 7th, which would give us plenty of time to put together what we needed to, as well as mean the giveaway would culminate in featuring Julia and my books just before the grand prize giveaway would be announced—thereby hopefully increasing exposure for both Cutting Teeth and Bittersweet soon before our mutual publication date (May 13th).
4) We decided that in order to get maximum exposure for each author, we needed to give away one book a day (which would give us a timeframe for the giveaway—it’ll be as many days long as we have authors), but we also wanted the giveaway to feel big and juicy, so we’d also feature a “grand prize winner,’ which meant that at the end of the whole thing, some lucky reader would win ALL THE BOOKS (which, I’ll admit, set me into a mouthwatering fit of envy). The individual giveaway would mean the writers involved would be super motivated to share the giveaway across their social media platforms on their given day. And the promise of a huge giveaway at the end of things would hopefully be dramatic enough that it would gain its own following.
5) We needed to come up with a name for the giveaway. We ditched more generic handles (“Spring 2014 Buzz Books,” for example) in the interest of something personal (and friendly). At first Dan and I loved “Ermahgard! All The Books!” (casual, and dorky, like us!), but when Julia didn’t know about the “Ermahgard” meme, we rejected that more insidery tone for something that expressed the same enthusiasm: “OMG! All The Books!” Dan did some Twitter research and discovered that #omgbooks was being underutilized, so we’ve started using that hashtag, since Twitter will be a popular place for writers and readers to be sharing about this giveaway.
Reaching out to Authors
Once we had established more of the logistics, I crafted an outreach email to the 29 writers we wanted to approach. This email was friendly, and extended an invitation to people Julia and I love and respect, offering them a chance to let us help them spread the words about their books. What were we asking of the writers in exchange for being part of this giveaway?
1) Two signed first editions whenever their book came out. They took a pledge to send those books to the two people who will win their books: the individual winner, and the grand prize winner. Because these are all people we know personally, we felt comfortable giving up control over sending out the books ourselves; also, it saved us a lot of money to ask them or their publishers to pay for their own postage!
2) To fill out a short information sheet that we would use to create the individual giveaway post for each author. This sheet includes basic information (website, bio, author photo, book jacket, favorite social media feeds, etc) as well as nine open-ended questions (of which we asked them to pick four or five) that means we can post a mini Q&A with original content for each author on their individual giveaway day, which (we hope) will further drive traffic to the site because of its unique, shareable content. We also asked them to come up with an “easter egg” question, the question we will ask giveaway entrants about each featured book, which they’ll have to then go to the personal website of the given author in order to answer, and enter that day’s giveaway (which will automatically enter them into the grand prize too).
3) The promise to spread the news of this giveaway far and wide—across their social media platforms, on their websites, in their newsletters, and with their marketing team and publicists at their publishers (who will hopefully, in turn, spread the word too). With over two dozen of us participating in this giveaway, there’s the chance for a many more people to hear about our books than most of us would be able to spread the word to on our own.
Last week, we were thrilled to hear yesses back from 23 folks (including ourselves, and we’re still waiting to hear from a few others)! I think a large part of why so many people said yes was because of Julia’s natural warmth and her personal connections to many of the people we reached out to (I also had a personal relationship to a few of the folks we were asking, but if I’m being honest, the friendships that Julia has developed within the literary community were vital to getting this idea off the ground).
Since then, we have sent out the information sheet I described above to all the writers who’ve said yes, and I’m receiving them back hourly—such wonderful insights into the minds and work of so many writers I admire!
We’re hearing so much positivity from in-house publicists and marketing folks; they love this idea and are eager to spread the word. Already folks from Crown, RandomHouse, St. Martin’s, Penguin and more have said they’ll be happy to share the news of this giveaway with their social media followings.
There’s still a lot to do: finalize the design of the giveaway image; design and draft the individual giveaway pages; continue to reach out and be resources to the writers we’ve asked to participate; design and send out a guide for the writers participating (which will include the giveaway image, sample tweets, information about their individual giveaway, and more); figure out a workflow for me and for Dan on the logistical end of things; not to mention run the thing daily once April 7th rolls around!
I’ll post more tomorrow about the takeaways I’ve had so far while working on this giveaway, and keep you updated next week on further developments.