Friday, March 8, 2013

Not how giveaways work

Every so often I list a giveaway on Goodreads for one of my books. I figure it's worth it even if it only bumps my sales by single digits (which seems to be the case). I usually get between 1,000 and 1,400 entries to each giveaway, with around 1/3 of people entering also listing the book as "to read." After each giveaway is completed, Goodreads sends me the winner's name and address and I inscribe the book, tuck a bookmark in the front, wrap it up, and mail it. Over the next few weeks a percentage of the people who listed the book as "to read" will delete it, which doesn't bother me. Sometimes the winner of the book will review it, usually they don't. That doesn't bother me either.

Here are some things that bother me.

Person A enters the giveaway, lists my book as "to read," and gives it a five-star rating. Now don't get me wrong, I love it when someone gives one of my books five stars. But I get uncomfortable when I'm 99% sure that the rater hasn't read the book. I suspect the five-star raters think that I'm the one who picks the giveaway winners and they're trying to influence me to pick them. Goodreads picks the winners and it's done by computer.

Person B enters the giveaway but doesn't win. They then give my book a one-star rating.

Sometimes Person A and Person B are the same person.

Person C enters the giveaway, doesn't win, and sends me a message asking for a copy of the book. Sometimes they friend me first, which makes this extra awkward.

Here's the thing, Person C. Writing a book takes a long time, and revising and editing it take even longer. I know I'm not a big-name writer. My publishers are small, my books are not on the shelves of brick-and-mortar stores, and even avid readers of fantasy most likely won't have heard of me. But that doesn't mean I don't work very hard at my craft. It doesn't mean my publishers and editors and cover artists etc. don't work very hard at what they do too. When one of my books is released, we all have bright hopes that people will find it, buy it, read it, like it, and give it five star ratings and reviews all over the place.

So why do you think I should just give you a free copy?

Sometimes Person C is a book blogger who wants a free copy (or two, or three, or seven--I'm not making this up). Those folks I refer to the book's publisher, who can evaluate the request and decide whether to send a review copy.

More often Person C just really wants the book and figures I gave one copy away, I probably have stacks of them lying around and it won't hurt me to give them one. After all, they're going to review it! And tell all their friends about it!

But I don't have stacks of my books lying around. My books are mostly published in ebook editions, with print-on-demand copies available. Sometimes I'm sent hardcopies by the publisher, sometimes I'm not. If I'm not, I buy a copy or two myself for giveaways (Goodreads giveaways are only for print copies of books). It's not cheap, nor is the packaging and postage cheap.I don't make a lot of money from my writing. I can't afford to give a copy away to anyone who asks.

Do you really, really, really want to read my books? Please do me and my publishers a favor. Buy a copy. They're not expensive. When you buy one of my books you keep my publishers in business and give me a little bit of money to repay me for all the work I put into creating the book for you to read.


Ash-Matic said...

I've only just joined Goodreads after a friend sent me an invite. I had no idea people were trying to game giveaways - that's really unfair if they give your novels 1-star reviews just because they didn't get a copy. I grr'd a little on your behalf!

K.C. Shaw said...

I love Goodreads but there are some people on there who seem to think authors are only there to give them free stuff if they ask.