Using a contest to promote your book even before you’re published: One blogger’s approach

This is a guest post by Eliabeth Hawthorne

When my co-author Ermisenda and I first signed up to become a Novel Publicity host blog, we were new to blogging and still in the 0-25 views range. While we were able to implement most of the suggested changes immediately, one of them had us stumped. How were we supposed to run a contest when we did not have any merchandise and didn’t know any authors willing to let us use something of theirs as a prize?
 

What we did

We decided to involve artists in creating character galleries that we could post on our blog and our Facebook page. As an incentive, we made the prize the option of seeing their design on a t-shirt. To start the contest off, we posted an image of our own and a description of what we were looking for. Since our most notable character is a blind girl with the ability to draw, we asked that she be blindfolded in the images. The full contest post can be read here.
 

Promoting the contest

We promoted through all of our social media platforms including Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr. We also used the “art” tag on WordPress global tags to find art blogs. We commented on posts we liked or thought would work well with our contest. If you want to something similar, DO NOT just post your link; that is rude and may be ignored as spam. We commented about the post and described the contest and the prize before leaving an invitation and the link.
 

How it went

We had a great turnout! See all of the submissions in our Gallery. We learned we needed to be clearer with the description since many artists still had questions, but since we were available to answer them quickly, it still went smoothly. The real hurdle was getting the winning designs (we picked two) onto the shirt. We could not get one to upload properly, something we will need to figure out before we run another contest, but the artist was understanding since we tried to work with her before we gave up on the project. Thankfully, the other one uploaded fine and we now have our first Blind Sight merchandise. The title is in the font we plan to use on the book, and the tagline, “whose eyes will you read through,” will also overlap to other platforms so that the shirt ties in to our overall brand. In the two weeks that the contest ran, we doubled our site views from 2500 to 5000.
 

The finished product

This design is now purchasable on Redbubble.

 

About this post’s author:

Eliabeth Hawthorne is the author of Aniela’s volume of Blind Sight. She shares a blog with co-author Ermisenda Alvarez where they write about books, life, and everything in between at www.ErmiliaBlog.wordpress.com. She can be found on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. She is also an assistant at Novel Publicity.


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