So I did some thinking about the contests I ran last week, and here are my conclusions:
1. I can't compete with US authors when it comes to using books as prizes. The cost to me is simply not comparable. To illustrate:
To mail from my home in Toronto to British Columbia: $11.35 (includes tax and fuel surcharge)
To mail from New York to California using the media mail rate, which is not available in Canada: $2.23.
Same book, same rate, $9.12 difference.
Just fyi, it's cheaper for me to mail a book to Finland ($5.75) than it is to another province in my own country. What is up with that?
2. The first day had the most entries.
3. Timing was an issue for some people.
4. There was a lot of work involved besides simply setting up the contest and coming up with questions, like buying the envelopes, addressing them and getting them to the post office.
If I do another contest using books as prizes, it will be one day only, there will be a draw aspect (meaning it won't necessarily be the first person who answers who wins), and it would be better to have one large prize (like a set of books) than several smaller ones.
I already do one draw a month from among my newsletter subscribers for a $25 electronic gift certificate from Amazon. That's fast, it's easy and there's no postage. I may decide to do something like that from my blog. The only problem with that, unfortunately, is that winners won't necessarily buy my book.
And of course, there's always the perennial conundrum: Does doing something like this actually lead to more readers and better sales?
I have no idea. I do know I had more hits to my blog, though, so in that sense, the contests were effective -- which is more than I can say with certainty about some other forms of PR.