How best to do book giveaways?

I am a writer, editor and book reviewer. This means people send me a lot of books, and A. I’d like to give some of those reviewer copies away to my patrons (who have shown interest) B. I’d also like to give away some books I myself have edited or written. But I’m not sure how best to go about it, especially situation A where each book is different, and I can’t give everyone the same object; and a lot of advice seems focused on other types of creators whose situation is more similar to B. So I thought I would post here and ask you for your opinions!

I have tried various options including giving books away on my website and just linking the post on Patreon - this seems the most flexible, but gave me invariably little interest that came through Patreon.

I have two main considerations:

  • The giveaway should be allowed under the current Patreon rules and should be legal in my state (I have looked at applicable state laws)
  • It should bring in backers and/or increase the happiness of current backers :slight_smile:

So if I understand correctly, raffles are disallowed, but claiming books on a first come first serve basis should be okay, even if it is only for backers? I don’t want to do a raffle or any kind of random element, because the books are very different and I would like people to get something they actually want to read.

I don’t think I’m required to have a skill element as per my local law as long as there isn’t a random draw, though I can certainly do something like “What was your favorite book last year?”. But would that increase or decrease participation?

Has anyone tried giving physical objects (any kind, not just books) away in public entries? Are the people who participate still mostly your backers? I am wondering if that might bring in new backers.

I am not planning on giving away advance reviewer copies, because before launch date I usually give those away to other book reviewers if I don’t need them, and I know you’re not supposed to resell ARCs (giving them away to backers only would be a kind of indirect reselling?). So these are mostly newish books, but I have at least attempted to read them, so not brand new.

I think for my situation B it might be better to do a special offer (signed copies… decorated copies… I-put-random-cute-stickers-in-it copies?) but situation A doesn’t seem well-suited for that, because the books are all different, and also not strictly speaking new copies. Thoughts?


A few thoughts :slight_smile:

Depending on the number of books and number of patrons, could you set up a pricey tier where each month a patron receives 1 book and at a higher tier, a reader will receive 2 books? As long as you remove the random (winner and losers) aspect, I would think that avoids the lottery prohibitions.

If you and your patrons are mostly in the US, I wouldn’t put too much more in the package than the book as you can then use the cheaper Media Mail rate.

Good luck with it! Excited to see what others suggest!

— Steve


As a book lover, I find this to be an exciting problem to have! Here are some thoughts:

  1. This help article has more info on why Patreon does not allow raffles, and I’d recommend you write into the support team once you have specific questions as they’re the experts on giveaways.
  2. One thing I’m a fan of is the “blind date with a book” trend, where you wrap the book up in brown paper and write some themes/clues on the wrapping. If you organized the books you want to give away into general themes, you could ask your Patrons to mention the themes they’d be interested in getting so it’s relevant to their interests, but still a surprise! It might also help turn it into a community building idea for your patrons, as they could then share and discuss what they received.
  3. Be aware of how costly shipping things can be, especially internationally. You may want to limit participation to your own nation or be prepared to spend a certain amount.

Excited to hear your thoughts!

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Do you have an idea of how many books you’d like to give away per month? I like the idea of a blind date with a book/get a random book each month thought. If you have an idea of how many you’d like to send out, you could make a patron tier capped the number of members you’d like to tie to the number of books sent out.

I second the idea of keeping it to where you’re based. If you’re in the US, media mail should only be a couple of books to ship out a single book, or you could do Flat-Rate Priority Mail envelopes for about $6 each, if you put more priority on having the package arrive quickly.

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My account was temporarily suspended because I wanted to give away a book…so now I don’t even mention it at all.

But I keep seeing other accounts raffling off tickets and books for higher tier levels, so this rule isn’t applied fairly across all accounts. I’ve questioned this before, even gave examples of other accounts doing this but none have been removed as mine was. Interesting that Amazon allows book giveaways to all 50 states, but Patreon claims it’s against the law for giveaways.

End result for me is I don’t even touch the topic because of one keystroke can shut down my account.

I do this with sample artwork and test pieces occasionally. I just put up a post, asking who would like something (and hasn’t received anything lately), and work my way down the list of comments until I’ve mailed to everyone. I make it clear that it may take a few weeks to mail, and I leave a reply to each comment as I mail to that person, as a way of tracking my way down the list.

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If you are concerned and do see a creator with a giveaway, you can always file a report for our trust and safety team to review.

There’s also a longer response in a previous thread, which may give you some ideas of ways you can incorporate a giveaway.