How to Do Honest and Legal Giveaways as an Author

Today’s guest post is by author Chrys Fey (@ChrysFey), author of Keep Writing with Fey.

When doing giveaways as an author, it’s important to conduct a lawful giveaway (and stay on the right side of Amazon’s terms of service) that protects the rights of the entrants.

Before I outline important principles to follow, I’d like to recommend Rafflecopter, a free-to-join website that makes setting up a giveaway easy. In fact, a number of the techniques I’ll discuss are specific to their platform. Rafflecopter takes a lot of the work off your shoulders. You don’t have to worry about storing entrants’ information and keeping it private, because this data is stored by Rafflecopter. You also don’t have to manually input entrants into a random generator to pick a winner; when you’re ready, Rafflecopter will do that for you at the click of a button.

Through Rafflecopter, you can create a giveaway form for your website. People who want to enter can easily do so and earn points by completing tasks such as visiting a Facebook fan page or tweeting a message about the giveaway. (More on that in a bit.) Rafflecopter also provides a direct link to your giveaway page, which you can use when you announce the giveaway on social media sites.

Decide on giveaway entry options

There are many ways to allow people to enter your giveaway, and which ones you choose will depend upon your ultimate goals: Are you trying to grow your mailing list? Boost your social media following? Drive engagement? Here are some common options:

  • Visit a Facebook fan page
  • Tweet a message
  • Pin an image (Pinterest)
  • Answer a poll
  • Subscribe to a mailing list
  • Follow an account (Twitter, Pinterest, etc.)
  • Comment on a blog post
  • Invent your own!

Some of these options, such as subscribing to a mailing list, are available only in the paid tiers of Rafflecopter. If you do not want to pay to upgrade (I never have), you can use the “invent your own” feature to steer around the restrictions. For example, when you use the “invent your own” option to get subscriptions for your newsletter, you can use a link button that takes entrants to your mailing list sign-up form. (However, don’t forget to add wording in this option explaining that entrants have to confirm their subscription to your newsletter to be eligible. This helps you guarantee that most entrants will follow through.)

Earning entry points

For each entry option you create, you can assign a value from 5 points to 1 point. You’ll want to give your most desired options the largest value. I strongly suggest offering 5 points for the mailing list signup, given its importance.

I’d also create a free entry option worth one point where people who want to enter your giveaway don’t have to do a thing to claim that point.

Include terms and conditions

Terms and conditions are essential; this offers information that entrants have the right to know and can protect you in case of problems. Fill out the Terms & Conditions for your giveaway on Rafflecopter on the righthand side of the setup page. Even if you aren’t using Rafflecopter, you want to have this information available on your website or blog or wherever your giveaway is hosted. Here’s what to add or consider.

  • Right away, by itself, insert the words “NO PURCHASE NECESSARY.” This is essential and necessary. More on this below.
  • Giveaway Name
  • Sponsor: Your Name
  • Contact Details: Your Email
  • Eligibility: Is your giveaway open to US only or other countries?
  • Number of Winners
  • Prizes Given to Winner: What are you giving away? List them.
  • Giveaway Starts: Date and time
  • Giveaway Ends: Date and time
  • How to Enter: Explain how people can enter the giveaway. For example, you might say. “Subscribe to My Newsletter. By subscribing to my newsletter and completing the double opt-in process, entrants are consenting to receive my author newsletter after the giveaway ends. Only entrants that have confirmed and fully subscribed will be eligible.” For each entry method, I include wording that says something like “This task is optional. Entrants willingly choose whether to complete it.”
  • Social Network Disclaimers: Mention that the social media sites where you may share your giveaway announcement or use to gain entry points do not endorse, sponsor, or administer your giveaway.
  • Winner Selection: How will the winner be picked? For Rafflecopter you can say, “The winner will be randomly chosen by Rafflecopter’s generator.”
  • Winner Notification: Who will be contacting the winner and how (usually it’s through the email address provided by the entrant when logging in to the giveaway)
  • Shipping: How long will it take you to send or ship the prize(s) after receiving the winner’s address? Include a statement that says you won’t be held liable for prizes that are damaged or lost in transit. I also add, “All prizes are mailed in excellent condition.”
  • Privacy Policy: State that all information will be kept private and that the only data you will use will be for the purposes of contacting the winner(s) and shipping the prize(s). You can also provide a link to Rafflecopter’s Privacy Policy if you’re using their service.

Giveaway Don’ts

  • You cannot use entrants’ information for anything other than to contact the winner. That means you can’t use their email address or mailing address or any other information to contact them for marketing purposes, unless—for example—they willingly signed up for your email newsletter to enter the giveaway.
  • You cannot use entrants’ information to manually sign them up for your newsletter/mailing list. Make that an option that they can choose to do themselves.
  • You cannot require people to buy your book (or anything else) in order to enter your giveaway. This is illegal. It can’t even be an optional entry. And, because you can’t require people to pay for something to enter, you can’t ask for proof of purchase. This is known as the NO PURCHASE NECESSARY law.
  • You cannot force the winner to pay for shipping. This goes along with the above. You are responsible for shipping costs.
  • You cannot require people to review your book in order to enter your giveaway. This is against Amazon’s Terms of Service.

By following these steps, you will have a sound and ethical giveaway. If you see someone else running a giveaway that’s against the law, you may want to let them know privately, because many are not aware of these guidelines and laws and don’t know they are doing anything wrong.

Good luck to you, and good luck to your future giveaway entrants!

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