How to Set Up Prizes, Rewards, and Incentives to Boost Your Book Sales

Over a million titles are published each year and new marketing tactics are constantly vining around the web. What suits your style? Or better yet, what has worked for you? If you’re still dumfounded over the ins and outs of publishing or weary of the basic techniques, don’t give up just yet!

Because aside from solely enticing readers with your upcoming book, there are other lures to make your offer simply irresistible. Enter promos, launch prizes, contests, rewards, giveaways, incentives, and their many kinds.

Get to know how from these experts below.


FREE to the author:
1.) Free copy of one of your books via a Smashwords coupon or PDF copy
2.) A “printable” PDF – could be a bookmark, a compilation of blog posts repurposed into a small eBook, printable quotes or scriptures (with your URL on there of course)
3.) Approach businesses that offered products similar to the topic of your book or appropriate for your target audience and ask them for a donation. Give them extra exposure during your launch by posting a link to their site, tweeting about their business, etc.

SMALL cost to the author:
1.) Small gift with your logo, book cover or branding on it. You can order custom gifts with your branding atwww.zazzle.com or www.cafepress.com.
2.) Kindle gift copy of your book
3.) Print copy of your book
4.) $5-10 gift certificates to Amazon,http://www.chocomize.com/, coffee, etc.

MODERATE cost to the author:
1.) $25-50 Amazon gift certificate. Readers LOVE Amazon gift cards!
2.) Consider signing up for a CrossReads book blast as we do all the work for your giveaway and have it posted on 25+ blogs. http://crossreads.com/book-blast/

If you currently have a small following, consider joining several authors in a giveaway so that you all can promote it to your followers for even greater impact. - S. Hitz

Shelley Hitz Author coach and self-publishing expert

Create a landing page that makes your offer clear and promote it widely. - B. Robinson

Becky Robinson Founder and CEO of Weaving Influence and Hometown Reads

Don’t assume that people who want to purchase in bulk will know about your incentive offers. Proactively share your offers. Make sure people can easily find them. Be open to possibilities beyond the offer.

If you want to sell thousands of books in a week to reach best-seller status on a big list, the best way to do so is through bulk sales. Do the math. You can sell books singly, and add up the numbers,1 +1 +1, or you can sell in bulk and see sales multiply, 1000 X 10, or 10+10+100+1000+1500. Gary Vaynerchuk skillfully demonstrates this concept on the landing page for his new book, Jab Jab Right Hook.

Look for offers you can make that fit your audience’s needs and interests. Look for ways to offer unique incentives that compel people to buy more books. Look for incentives that do not require your time, when possible.

Becky Robinson


The big picture is to launch a product as big and fast possible and to succeed — not save the most money. - G. Kawasaki

Guy Kawasaki Canva

Quizzes – The quiz started as a final exam in the book, but I also wanted an online version so people could determine if they should to read the book. I created online versions for both Facebookand my website.

I created badges, buttons, and banners so that people could declare that they are enchanting. These badges aren’t exactly ads for the book — they’re more like a “seal of approval” that people can display. Lesson learned: People like to embed badges and wear them on their clothes. This is a cheap way to gain exposure.

Once you have an infographic and badges, you might as well go all the way and create wallpapers too. These wallpapers enable people to have book-themed desktops and homescreens on their computers, phones and iPads.

Guy Kawasaki

Reward advance bulk orders. - H. Whaling

Heather Whaling Founder at Geben Communication

Pre-sale orders count toward your first week goals, the all-important number for best-seller lists. So, develop a strategy to incentivize bulk pre-sales. For example, if a conference orders 500 books, you’ll wave your speaking fee.

Or, if an organization orders 100 books, you’ll deliver a one-hour presentation via Skype for no additional charge. Provide extra incentives to encourage bulk pre-orders.

Heather Whaling


Use incentives that showcase the other products and services that you offer. - G. Vaynerchuk

Gary Vaynerchuk Entrepreneur, and CEO of VaynerMedia

Showcase incentives — If you are a coach, one of the incentives should feature your coaching services. If you are a speaker, one of the incentives should showcase your speaking ability.

Incentives that rock — Whatever you offer as an incentive to buy your book must be congruent with the topic of your book and the interests of your target audience.

Unique incentives — Offer incentives that are so different, so enticing that people want to buy your book.

Value incentives — Offer incentives that people who like you or your book would want to buy, even if the incentive weren’t being offered as a bonus for buying multiple copies of your new book.

Step by step incentives — Increase the value of your incentives as you ask people to buy more copies of your book. The incentives should match the value of the book quantities you are asking people to purchase in order to qualify.

Gary Vaynerchuk

Personalize your incentives.

Some readers you meet at events can be wary of giving an email address, so offer incentives, such as coupon discount codes for other titles, or links to a free ebook short or free short story. That way the reader is more inclined to feel a part of your reader community. - M. Rooney

Mick Rooney Author, and editor of The Independent Publishing Magazine

It’s all about adding value no matter how small. Readers love FREE and EXCLUSIVE. And when sending out newsletters and communications to readers, always try to set it up so the email is addressed to the person by first name, not just Hello or Dear Reader.

Authors talk a lot about signing books, but readers also love quality bookmarks. It’s worth designing your postcard or bookmark with a place to put your signature. Believe me, the reader will treasure it more than your average Waterstones or Foyles bookmark.

Mick Rooney


Be creative.

Besides being declared the “winner,” the next best thing is to get something for nothing. Giving stuff away is one of the most common marketing techniques, and it’s easy to see why.

If I offer to give you something of value in exchange for a few minutes of your time, or your email address, or for taking a survey, you’ll balance what the cost is against your own perceived value of the “freebie.” - J. Friedlander

Joel Friedlander Book marketing expert

Most authors want to use their book as what they’re giving away but, again, think about whether your new – and therefore mostly unknown – book is really the best thing to motivate people to take part in your promotion.

The best guides for authors who want to incorporate contests and giveaways into their book promotion is to see what other authors are doing and to approach it as if you were going to enter the contest yourself. Is it worthwhile? Will the prize motivate you? Is it fun?

Joel Friedlander

Build up your ‘also boughts’ and reviews with a freebie launch.

As you may know, on Amazon you can opt to be in KDP select and utilize their promotional tools. One of them is being able to offer your book free for a certain period (up to 5 days in every three month period). These work best when you have more than one title, creating a knock-on effect on sales of your back catalogue as new readers (hopefully) like your freebie and come back for more, so increasing the sales of your other titles. - D. Flint

Debbie Flint Choc Lit UK author

Once your book has been at a certain higher price for at least a month, you can use the relatively new KDP Countdown system. It allows you to run a reduced price offer – preferably a substantial reduction – for a short period, all the while showing how many days and hours left before the price reverts to the higher level.

Pick out a specific section of your book and upload it as a separate title as a freebie, making it very clear it’s an initial instalment – particularly useful if you have only one title. However, it’s got to satisfy, and be worthwhile as a stand-alone – or should have a really tempting cliff-hanger at the end – so that the freebie may entice readers to go for the rest of the novel once they’ve read the first bit.

Finally, if you are left with only your own social media platforms to try to encourage more people to click on your book link, at least make it personal.

Debbie Flint


Combine giveaways with a blog tour.

Organize a blog tour to use the power of other people’s blogs and their avid fans to spread the word about your books. Blog tours are great for increasing your visibility and getting your books in the hands of major influencers: book bloggers. - B. Barany

Beth Barany Creativity coach for novelists

Run a Contest. I’ve seen some authors create contests like sending in photos, or videos, or stories. You pick a winner and give a prize. This type of activity can also work before the book comes out.

Give Away Gifts. People love free stuff! I recommend giving away something that’s related to your book, but people also really like gift cards. The more related the prizes are to your book the more you’ll hopefully attract lifelong fans.

Run a Pay With a Tweet Campaign. This free tool is a fun way to give away a book, and works well if you already have a few books out, and can give away a book that feeds into your other books.

Beth Barany

Goodreads Giveaways are a great way for authors to connect directly to readers, generate interest in their books, and get users of the site to add their book to virtual “to-read” shelves. - N. Thacker

Nick Thacker Author of thrillers

To makes things even better, it’s completely, 100% free.

  1. Set your book up for success. – The most important aspect of any book launch goes almost without saying: make sure your book looks great.
  1. List your giveaway. – You want to stand out, but you don’t want to reinvent the wheel. Just because it’s different to do a one-day giveaway doesn’t necessarily mean it’s smart!
  1. Follow up – Send them an email. If you include a link to a signup form on your Giveaway, a certain amount of people who see your listing and are interested will click through and give you their email address.

Hacking Giveaways

  1. Use great imagery
  2. Run your listing for a long time.
  3. Promote the Giveaway!
Nick Thacker

What has worked for you? Let us know in the comments below. 

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How to Get Famous People to Promote Your Book for You
How to Get More Reviews and Blurbs For Your Book Without Even Trying
Make Your Book Standout by Optimizing Your Amazon Page
Do you want to sell more books, or don’t you? (The book marketing strategy you ignore at your own peril).

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