Are Book Giveaways and Contests Effective Promotion?


Car Giveaway 

Photo via NewsbiePix (creative commons)

So I know everyone loves free stuff. I mean, who wouldn't? But I often wonder as I cruise around the blogosphere how effective they actually are as a promotional tool.

When I've featured new authors on my blog and giveaways of their book, I tend to get a scant amount of comments and entries as compared to normal post days. I've done more wide scale contests with lots of books and those do pretty well, but those don't really promote the authors per se.

And then when I see authors giving away their books on Twitter and such, it seems all they are really doing is preaching to the choir. They're giving rewards to their loyal followers and fans and that's awesome, but it's not necessarily introducing their writing to someone new. 

I know that if someone gives me a free book (like the ones I got at RWA), I am more likely to try out that author and give them a chance, which may mean I become a fan after reading the book. So in that way, I know free books can be effective. But when it's in a blog contest form, I'm not sure it's the same kind of effect. I'm much more likely to try someone's book because they had an interesting blog post, and I saw the blurb and liked it.

But maybe I'm just being biased because I'm not one to click over for contests unless it's an author I already know and a book I already want or a blog topic that hooks me. So I have a few questions for you:

1. When you enter a contest and DON'T win, are you more likely to go out and buy that book because you're now interested in it?

2. If you see someone promoting a contest featuring an author and a book you've never heard of, does it make you click over to that link?

3. Have you ever won a contest and became a fan of the author after trying their book?

You guys tell me, I'm curious. :)