The Only Sweepstakes Left Follow-Up


Recently I tried a KingSumo giveaway in order to build my mailing list in advance of the release of my new book, The Fifth House. In The Only Sweepstakes Left, I gave away one Pop! toy (the winner could choose from three available) in exchange for signing up for my mailing list. Of course, not everyone who signed up would be interested in my mailing list, and it’s easy to unsubscribe from it, but I wanted to experiment with a new way to build my mailing list, so I did.

Now that the giveaway is over, I wanted to look at it and see what worked and what didn’t.

Was it a success? It was a modest one. I got 33 e-mail addresses to add to my mailing list, and 37 total entries. If you’re not familiar with KingSumo, it is meant to encourage people to share your giveaway on various social networks because if Person 2 uses Person 1’s Lucky URL, Person 1 gets extra entries into the giveaway. In this manner, no one is penalized for sharing the giveaway. The more they share, the better their chances of winning might be (assuming people use their Lucky URL to sign up). The end result, ideally, is that one’s giveaway goes viral.

So did my giveaway go viral? No. There were two entries in which contestants used another contestant’s Lucky URL. Those entries were probably ones I would not have otherwise gotten, but I wouldn’t say that was viral. A minor cold, maybe, or a case of the sniffles.

What lessons did I learn from this giveaway? There might be any number of reasons that this wasn’t a bigger success, but here are my conjectures. 1) A single Pop! toy was not enough to entice people to allow me into their inbox. If I had been willing to give away all three, that might have been more attractive. 2) There wasn’t enough of an overlap between readers and toy fans. If I shared the giveaway in book communities, the toy didn’t attract book fans. And if I shared the giveaway in toy communities, I wasn’t necessarily getting contestants who cared about my books at all.

What will I do going forward? I could try to get my money back for KingSumo, since they have a 60-day Satisfaction-Guaranteed refund policy. However, I think the cost of the service (a one-time payment) will pale in comparison to the long-term use I can get out of it.

However, for my future giveaways I will probably stick to giving away books, especially ebooks which have zero additional costs to me. If I have a large mailing list at some point, I would consider giving away a toy to a randomly-drawn person from that list to reward loyalty, but I don’t think I would use one to entice new fans to consider my books.

What about you? Have you tried anything unusual to promote your books or build your mailing list? What worked and what didn’t?

Review: Crooks & Straights

Crooks and StraightsCrooks and Straights by Masha du Toit

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a wonderful read which I suppose falls into the YA category but suited me just fine as an adult reader. It is the story of a young girl in a magical version of South Africa who gets caught between the magical and non-magical world around her. The world itself is full of everyday magic, but also tension as it becomes increasingly clear that magical people and creatures are an oppressed underclass. As such, the book deals with civil rights issues and the topic of children with special needs, through the lens of a world uncomfortable with magical or odd things.

The book is full of inventive magical details and feels very real and well-constructed, and the writing flows well and is often quite beautiful. I recommend Crooks and Straights to fans of Harry Potter, movies like Howl’s Moving Castle, and the books of Neil Gaiman.

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