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Kindle Paperwhite Winner

The common wisdom says that reviews are a lifeblood of the online business.

I agree.

However, I struggle getting reviews. My sales have been good; they’ve been great during the promotion periods. And yet, very few take the time to leave a review.

This is understandable. I, for one, have pretty much stopped doing it because I’m uncomfortable reviewing the work of my colleagues. I confine myself to reviewing only those authors who are either safely dead like William Golding, or who are way above my league like Stephen King.

With this in mind, I’ve decided to run an experiment.

About a month ago I’ve put my book “How to Build a Writer’s Platform in 90 Days” up for a giveaway at the Library Thing. To motivate folks to read and respond reasonably soon, I told them that on April 1, I’d run a draw for a Kindle Paperwhite.

An important disclaimer: I’ve never asked for a positive review. My posting at the Library Thing asked for a meaningful review (e.g. more than a generic one-liner).

Results:

  • I’ve given away 50 copies of the book.
  • 2 people wrote back saying the book wasn’t for them.
  • 10 reviews got posted.

I’m pretty happy.

These are high-quality, thoughtful, detailed reviews I could only dream about last month. I’m super-excited and truly grateful to everyone who responded to my call to action.

The Winner:

Let’s get pedantic for a second. For transparency, I’d like to cover the whole process.

  1. I sorted the 10 reviews by date.
  2. The earliest review became #1. The latest one became #10.
  3. I navigated to www.random.org and entered the numbers 1 and 10 into the generator.
  4. And voila: the winning number is #3.

RandomCongratulations to Maggie – with my sincere thanks for participating in the giveaway! I’ll connect with you off-line to ship your Kindle to you :)

The Learnings:

  • This method works. 10 out of 50 is a great result in my books.
  • The line between soliciting reviews, and soliciting positive reviews, is thin. I believe both I and the reviewers have stayed on the clean side of the ethics. In fact, some reviewers emailed me saying that their opinion was in no way swayed by the giveaway process.
  • To my complete surprise, Library Thing disclosed full email and postal addresses of the winners to me. The learning here is to treat this information with respect and in compliance with the law. I’m deleting the email addresses from my system: they’re not going into my “mailing list”.
  • I’m beating myself up for not sending a gentle reminder half-way through. By March 25, the giveaway generated only 3 reviews. I decided to drop folks a note, and learned that quite a few didn’t even receive my files. Over the next few days, 7 more reviews got posted.

To be honest, I’d rather have Library Thing enable us to communicate through their system, protecting our mutual confidentiality and helping us avoid the spam filter issues. But this just a wish, not a complaint.

In conclusion, I want to thank everyone who took part. I love you guys :)

The Question:

What do you think? Have you used this method as part of your strategy, and what are your results?

Would you do it with your books, and why yes / why not?

Fire away!

  • Maggie knapp

    Thanks for the transparency, Austin. This was a positive experience for me as well (disclaimer: I won the random drawing). As a reviewer, I put a time into reading and thought into what I write. I do call it as I see in my reviews, which means I try to give a fair accounting of the book. Sometimes a book doesn’t work for me, but I see its value and can state that in my review. When I think a writer takes shortcuts or misses the mark or misrepresent his/her book in the publicity material I will state that as well.

    • http://www.austinbriggs.com Austin Briggs

      Hi Maggie, thanks for stopping by and for your nice words. Really appreciate!

      Hope we can stay in touch :)

      • Maggie knapp

        Have been really enjoying the Kindle! Thanks again. My mother brought me up to write a “proper” thank you on a pretty note card, but I hope this Thank You 2.0 conveys my appreciation. Thanks again for the transparency of how you ran the contest, and for sharing your writing thoughts on your blog. Maggie K.

        • http://www.austinbriggs.com Austin Briggs

          Thanks for your nice note, Maggie! It indeed made me very happy :)

          Great to see that you like the device, I love mine (well, officially it’s my son’s but he seems happy to share!).

          Here’s to the many great books you’ll read on it.

  • http://danijcaile.blogspot.hu/ Dani J

    Wow, if I had known about this, I would have reviewed for you, perhaps a reminder would have caught my attention (I’m poorer than the church mouse, buying bread at the end of the month is difficult, let alone a Kindle)
    And using a computer randomizer? Whatever happened to the ‘warm-blooded hand of fate’ (pull the number out of a hat)?
    IMHO this is a great strategy and thanks for sharing it!

    • http://www.austinbriggs.com Austin Briggs

      Hey Dani, I didn’t really advertise it outside of Library Thing as I wanted to see how it would work.

      But I liked it, and will run the next Kindle giveaway on May 15 this year. If you’d like to review my book, please let me know and I’ll give you my secret download link that I’ll set up soon.

      (That’s one more learning from my last campaign – instead of sending heavy files around, to set up a special download page for folks to access, complete with a sign up form just in case.)

  • http://www.sougent.com Sougent

    I guess I missed out on this drawing, but a review was promised and one given, better late than never. Though I didn’t get an e-mail on winning the book until Apr 16/17 so I guess I’m not that late, wondering if I am part of a 2nd giveaway.

    In any event, the book was an enjoyable read.

    Btw, you misspelled random as ramdom above in both the tiff file name and the link. spelling police to the rescue, lol.

    • http://www.austinbriggs.com Austin Briggs

      Hi Sougent, thanks so much for your kind review. I’m very happy to enter your name as part of the 2nd give-away. :)

      Thanks for the spelling alert!