Twitter contests are a fun way to build buzz, increase your followers, and promote your book at the same time.
With most Twitter contests, a winner is randomly drawn from the contest entrants to receive a prize. You can give away a free copy of your book or put together a prize package that includes several related books or products. One advantage to inviting others to contribute to the prize package is that they can help promote the contest. You may want to create a web page or blog post that describes the contest, so you can link to it.
Typically, people enter a Twitter contest by following you and then re-tweeting a specific message such as this: "Just entered to win an autographed book: The Garden of the Soul. Just follow @LynnSerafinn & Retweet. See https://bit.ly/beq28 #GOTS"
You get the promotional ball rolling by tweeting about your contest, then others pass the message on for you by re-tweeting.
You can keep track of the entries by searching Twitter to locate the re-tweets. Another idea is to add a unique hastag, such as #GOTS in the example above, to your message. Then you can search Twitter for the hashtag to bring up a list of your entries. Make sure no one is already using your hashtag by searching for the hashtag on the Twitter search page. It's a good idea to make a copy your entries each day, to make sure you don't lose any.
An easy way to select a winner is to generate a random number at Random.org. For example, if you have 224 entries, this free service will generate a random number between 1 and 224. If your number is 53, then count down to the 53rd entrant to find the winner.
The optimal length of time for a contest is about seven to ten days. If it goes on too long, people may lose interest and get tired of seeing the promotional tweets.
At the close of the contest, notify the winner and then announce the winner publicly by tweeting about it or even sending all the entrants a direct message.
Another type of Twitter promotion is a giveaway, everyone who enters receives a gift such as a free ebook. You could direct people to a web page where they fill out an opt-in form and the free ebook is delivered instantly though an autoresponder service such as Aweber.
Before you begin your Twitter contest, make a note of the number of followers you have and compare it to the number at the end of the contest.
When planning any type of promotion, it's a good idea to review the Twitter rules, to make sure you're not violating any of their terms.
To learn more about how to conduct your own Twitter contest, I highly recommend Conducting Effective Twitter Contests by Tony Eldridge. Embedded within this comprehensive ebook are 20 videos that allow you to see the principles explained in the book in action. This combination of video and text reinforces the message and is terrific for people who learn better by watching or who feel a bit intimidated by online marketing.