And the Winner Is: Tips for an Online Contest

33351288_sEverybody loves a contest, am I right? It is fun to enter and even more fun to win. So why not use the element of a contest to spread awareness of your book(s).

Since the majority of the world is on Facebook, we’ll use that platform to review the process but you can run contests via Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Tumblr and more.

To create and manage a contest on Facebook, you will first need the contest app, which is free. Open your Facebook page (personal page or business page) and then in a new tab go to  Simply follow the steps.

FB contest

Before we go any further, let’s ask a few questions:

  • What is the purpose of the contest? Most likely you want to bring more people to your page and create awareness around your latest self-published book.
  • What will be the prize? My recommendation is that you offer up free copies of your book. If your book is in an e-book format, this will be the easiest prize as there won’t be any printing/shipping costs associated. However, if you only have printed versions of your book, keep the cost of shipping in mind when determining who can enter and how many winners you will have.
  • So just how many winners will you have? The cost of the contest to you will determine the number of winners. If you are incurring shipping costs, you may just want to have one winner, or one winner a day or one winner a week for the duration of the contest. Or you may want to have more winners if your book is in an e-book format. You get to decide.
  • What will the contestant have to do for the chance to win?
    • If the contest is on your business page, you may want to request that they “like” your page.
    • Ask that they share the contest on their own page to help get the word out.
    • Then just have fun…in the contest above I have asked that they tell the name of their favorite book and/or author. That will help get the conversation going. This is where you can interact with your community. Each person who responds, make sure that you comment back. Perhaps you have also read that book or know the author.
    • Consider using images as part of your contest. Ask contestants to post a picture of their favorite reading spot or favorite reading beverage, or a picture of themselves reading. For children’s authors, you might ask them to share a picture of them reading to their child or pet.
  • How will you determine the winner? The easiest way is to just put everyone’s name in a hat and draw winners. But you can also add an element of sharing to the contest – each time they share the contest, you’ll put their name in the hat an extra time. Make it simple so that you don’t have to get bogged down by the details.
  • How long will the contest last? Keep in mind that people are motivated by a sense of urgency so don’t have your contest last too long.

Okay – now you are ready to start. Fill out the contest form with a name and details of the contest. The app gives you easy to fill out boxes for contest details, a thank you message and a notice for when the contest is over.

Click SAVE and fill out two more pages of easy to answer questions. The last page gives you the chance to add a picture to your contest.

FB contest 1


Each part of the form can be customized. Once it look like you want, click on the “add to your page” and start spreading the word.

The app also gives you the options to embed the contest into your website or blog. Cool!

Now the work begins. Just like any other promotion, you need to spend time spreading the word.

  • Share with your Facebook community
  • Use other social media platforms to link back to the contest page
  • Email all of your contacts
  • Put the contest on your website home page
  • Write a blog about the contest and link back to Facebook
  • Put the contest in your signature line in Outlook so that every email you send promotes the contest

For more ideas, check out this Facebook Contest How To article from Social Media Examiner.

Want to try a contest on different platforms? Check out this article with the top ten contest applications for conducting a social media contest.

Bottom Line: Running a contest online is a simple, yet effective way to create awareness about your self-published books as well as to help build your community for future promotions and conversation. Give it a try and let us know how it goes! If you have a contest that you are promoting – let us know.