Do Giveaways Really Work?

I have a love-hate relationship with giveaways. I’m a sucker for raffles and the possibility of winning prizes. I’ve entered my share of contests at in-person local events. Never won a single thing.

True story: At one event, there was nobody clamoring after this particular salt and pepper shaker. I placed *two* raffle tickets into the box. At the last minute, someone entered their single ticket. Guess who won? Yeah, not me.

I have, though, contributed some nice gift baskets to drawings. Case in point: my retro gaming set for the 2019 California Crime Writers Conference. Besides some fun books, it had Tetris, Pac-Man, and themed goodies.

Retro gaming gift basket

Recent online giveaways by my publisher, Berkley, also show visual flair. Check out this one, with a play on “book”:

Giveaway called "Book Some Time For These Mysteries"

Or this giveaway that features some furry friends:

Giveaway called "Gear Up for the Pawlidays"

Interestingly, I’ve hit a new winning streak with these virtual events. Last year, I won the following:

  • Gift card to an indie bookstore
  • ARC of Kathleen West’s Minor Dramas & Other Catastrophes
  • Candace Rose Rardon’s  Stuff Every Tea Lover Should Know
Stuff Every Tea Lover Should Know book and postcard and teapot

Do giveaways really work? I know I appreciated winning my prizes. I’ve since recommended both books to people and used the card (over the gifted amount!) to support fellow authors.

Sometimes running giveaways feels like tossing my books into a literary Bermuda Triangle. Nevertheless, I’m hoping contests somehow attract more attention.

To that end, I’m participating in an important giveaway on Instagram for the #StandUpforAAPI challenge. Search for the hashtag and scroll through the informative posts from this past week. My own IG account is at

I believe it’s essential to stand in solidarity with the hurting AAPI community. I’m so grateful for bookstagrammers and authors coming together to raise awareness and offer support.

Giveaway for Mimi Lee Gets A Clue and Mimi Lee Reads Between The Lines #StandUpForAAPI

Please share your thoughts on recent events, how you feel about giveaways, and if you’ve ever been a winner.    

41 thoughts on “Do Giveaways Really Work?

  1. Jen, I’m with you on giveaways. I’m very codependent when I do them in that I feel sorry for everyone who doesn’t win and feel like they’ll be mad at me. But I do love when I win something! AND when it’s for a good cause, like #StandUpForAAPI? There’s nothing better. If I didn’t already own both your books, I’d enter that giveaway in a heartbeat! xoxoxo

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, I feel bad for people who don’t win, El. Then there are the folks who win multiple times!

      I’m not the only one doing #StandUpforAAPI contests today, so go visit Instagram and check the hashtag for other bookish giveaways! Enter to your heart’s delight!


  2. I like giveaways, but I stopped entering them because I never win. Do they work to attract readers, I don’t know? I know when I was doing daily giveaways on my blog, people entered them just to get the book, not to read the content. In fact, one time I did not have a giveaway on the blog and a commenter wrote “thanks for the giveaway”. . .that told me all I needed to know.

    Thanks for highlighting this cause. We need to stand up…this should not be tolerated.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I like to enter giveaways and I have won quite a few of them. I always read the blog as some ask questions about what you just read. And I never enter ones on ones that I know that I am not interested in. I am disabled and this gives me a chance to get books that I might not otherwise get a chance to read. My library system doesn’t carry a big selection of cozies.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Congrats on being a winner! I’m so glad contests are a great way for you to get some good books, especially cozies! (On a side note: my library has a system where you can recommend books for purchase, so I always make sure to fill out the form.)


  4. I enjoy entering a giveaway with the chance of winning but find it frustrating when in order to enter you have to jump through so many hoops. Maybe I’m lazy or maybe I just don’t feel it’s pertinant to go here, there and everywhere. It is wonderful to win a book or gift card so I’ll continue to enter as many giveaways as are offered.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Thank you for supporting this important cause! I love entering giveaways, and I’ve been lucky enough to win what feels like my fair share. As for running giveaways, I enjoy that too and used to do them regularly, mostly to support fellow authors’ books. But between the hassle of going to the post office (mine always has a long line) and the expense, I’ve had to cut back. I’m hoping someday, post-COVID, I will be able to start doing more of them again.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You’re welcome, Marla! So nice to hear you’re winning on both sides–in getting prizes and supporting other authors.

      Since COVID, I’ve taken to actually doing some media rate mailings through PayPal. It’s pretty simple, and I can skip the long lines!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Jen, you encapsulated my feelings perfectly. I hope people read and enjoy the books, but I fear they wind up on a table or buried in a TBR pile. And I don’t think I’ve gotten many reviews off giveaways (or ARCs to non-blurbers), so do they work? Who knows.

    I have won the occasional giveaway. In fact, I have one next up on my TBR. It’s always a little thrill.

    But if asked to contribute something for a good cause like AAPI, I’d always contribute.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Thank you for supporting such an important cause! I rarely enter giveaways unless it’s a book I know I want to read desperately and have the time to do so should I win (I never do!). However, since I generally host giveaways on my blog, I’ve found it’s a good tool to increase visibility for authors’ new books and gain new social media followers at the same time by utilizing Rafflecopter. Hopefully, somewhere on down the line, it will generate sales and reviews.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I know what you’re saying about the time to read! My TBR pile is getting higher and higher, Kim.

      I love how generous you are about hosting giveaways. That’s wonderful! I do like Rafflecopter for larger giveaways–it makes everything so user-friendly.


  8. I don’t like giveaways, permafrees, or anyhting else that devalues my work. It sets expectations among readers that none of us can afford. Many people openly state that they will not get a book unless it’s free or very cheap (i.e., $0.99); are those the people that I really want on my reader’s list?
    I just ran my first set of Facebook ads this month. My sales are higher than they’ve ever been. I was losing money at first due to ad costs, so I decided to increase my prices. Guess what? My books are still selling at the higher prices. I’m still not earning much profit, but these ads have shown me that people are willing to pay for my work. So why do I want to give it away for nothing?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I don’t mean to imply by my last post that I won’t donate my books or anything else to a cause I think is worthy. I seldom enter giveaways or raffles because I generally don’t win. If I want to support something, I’d just as soon donate time or money.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I like watching the giveaways. I will only enter if it’s something I want or something I want to try, not just for the sake of entering.
    Yes, I occasionally won something. If it is a book, it goes to the top of my tbr pile and I do a review as soon as I can.
    I have put together a few baskets for locks writing events, like Nanowrimo.
    And I really like creating things for malice domestic to put in the goodie bag. As long as it is a brilliant idea that I can afford 600 of!

    Liked by 2 people

  10. And speaking of giveaways, the authors could use a surprise item sometimes, just for them. Like maybe an email thanking them for creating a fun time for us readers, helping us escape, making us laugh and cry and think, etc.
    what if we bombarded authors email accounts with words of thanks? There’s a great giveaway they can definitely win every time!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I don’t enter book giveaways myself, because I usually just buy the book. That way, I’m never disappointed, lol! I haven’t had much luck winning things, and auctions stress me out. I did win a raffle for a year’s membership to a skating club when I was kid, but I had to give it back because I was already a member and they were looking for new ones. (Sort of like, you already are reading a series so you’re already hooked and you’re going to buy the next book anyway.) Oh, and I won a beautiful basket at Crime Bake one year, filled with writing craft books. I was so excited running up to the podium to get it, you would have thought I’d won an Agatha. Thank you, Jen, for this post supporting AAPI–such an important cause!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Go you, Lisa! Buy those books!

      Too bad about the skating membership. Also, I love imagining you running up to the podium to win at Crime Bake. Here’s looking to next time for it being an Agatha! (Speaking of which, HUGE CONGRATS to El for getting nominated for Best Contemporary Novel! )

      And thanks for the support, Lisa! ❤


  12. Thank you for this post, Jen! I love to give things away. I wish everyone who entered could win. Your giveaways are so cool (gaming basket! pawlidays!).

    Instagram is my nemesis…I cannot figure out how to do it, I can’t find anything and get immediately overwhelmed, and I don’t know how to share anything from other people, which is my main desire (fan of the boosting retweet). I don’t understand why I have to upload pics from my phone? Some of us need big screens to do stuff. I have all but given up over there. Okay, I’m veering off track.

    The important point is: #StandUpforAAPI (shared on FB and Twitter because I know how to do those)!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aww, thanks, Cyn.

      I love IG’s pretty pics–not that I have the artistic eye to do so. (Also, sadly, you still need to download another app to actually repost on Instagram.) I’m still finding my way around Instagram. I mean, just yesterday I finally figured out that I could search for hashtags and *follow* them. Apparently, I’ve been missing all these posts where people did not tag me but put up a hashtag of my book. WHOOPS!

      And you may not be the maven of IG, but you definitely rock FB and Twitter. Thanks for sharing about #StandUpforAAPI!


  13. Such a great cause, Jen … worthy of support from all of us!

    As an author, it’s complicated for me to do giveaways. Unless it’s digital or fits in a regular envelope, it’s expensive and time-consuming to send stuff to winners. That said, lately I seem to only run contests when I have a launch, mainly to say thank you to my readers for their support. I wish I could give everybody everything and not make people jump through hoops, but mama needs a mailing list AND a new pair of shoes!

    And, of course, I never win anything. But I’m happy to support this and many other great causes, so thanks for doing this!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Becky!

      I hear you about fitting things into a regular envelope. Recently, I wanted to donate something to a library. I went over to a blue box to mail it out–and realized it didn’t fit because it was so big!

      Also, yes, you deserve to have a fab mailing list and shoes!

      Liked by 1 person

  14. I’ve won a few times over the years, and always been happy when I did. However, there are more times that I haven’t won. I think that’s the nature of things.

    Glad you have had some success winning recently. Hope it continues.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I’m glad you asked this question, Jen, because I’ve often had the same thought: What exactly do giveaways do for authors? I guess it’s the hope that the winner will tell their friends about the book and maybe even buy others by the same author. In fact, I recently did a giveaway, and when the winner realized it was the second in the series, she told me she was going to buy the first one to read before embarking on the one she won. Success! Ha!

    And thank you for taking part in the #StandUpforAAPI challenge. It’s appalling and shameful what’s going on, and we should all stand up for the AAPI community and make known we will no longer tolerate the violence and discrimination against them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your thoughts, Leslie. Hurrah! Sounds like your giveaway was a success. I’ve often wondered if giving away a later book in the series is worth it or if people prefer having the first book instead.

      And a huge thank you for your support!


  16. Jen, first, thank you so much for raising awareness about #StandUpforAAPI. As Leslie said, we should all stand up for the AAPI community.

    Secondly, I love giveaways, both as a giver and an enter-er. When I enter giveaways, I’m always CONVINCED that I’ll win. (The only giveaway I’ve ever won was a coloring contest when I was seven.) The result? I’m always sorely disappointed when I lose!

    Thanks for the great post! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  17. I’m a bit of a junkie when it comes to entering giveaways. I enter tons and I’ve won a bunch of them. I’m always grateful for everything I’ve won and I don’t care a bit when I don’t win because there will always be another one. I’ve discovered new authors that I never would have read in a giveaway and then went on to buy and read all their other books. I also have some books I’ve won that are sitting there collecting dust because I haven’t gotten to them yet. I sometimes feel guilty about that but I know I will either read them eventually or re-gift them or donate them.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. I enter contests and have happily won many, many times. I think you’d be better off not putting your giveaways on Instagram. So many people – like me – do not use Instagram. If you post your giveaways on line – perhaps using something like Rafflecopter – you would be reaching a much, much larger audience.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So glad you’ve won many times, Nancy! I understand what you’re saying about Instagram and only reaching some people. This initiative came out of connections with the bookish community specifically on that social media, which is why it ended up being promoted there.

      Other giveaways I’ve done, though, have been across various platforms through Rafflecopter and other means. Thanks for the tip!


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