Several indie authors that I respect and have followed for a couple years now recommend doing book giveaways during your pre-order phase. The buzz around a free book, they say, often nets you new followers or social media and those who aren't winners will sometimes buy or wishlist your book as a result.
I decided to give away two paperback versions of my fantasy novella. I regard eBook giveaways as kinda cheap, and given my limited reach on social media, I didn't think a hardback giveaway would give me much more bang for the buck than a paperback giveaway.
The contest was great. The winners were very excited, and of course, I'm delighted for them. So what were the results? One new follower on twitter and 5 more blog visits than normal. Zero new sales. Yeah. Not great.
I don't regret running the giveaway at all because I learned something important. First, anyone who wins will be excited, so the size of the participant pool doesn't matter in that regard. Their happiness brought me a lot of happiness. However, the size of your social media footprint does matter a lot. So second, I learned that if you are a nobody on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc., a giveaway isn't going to chance that.
I suppose that's obvious, but now I know for sure. My hope is that by the time Book 2 comes out, I will have expanded my online reach and a giveaway will yield better results.