What Would You Do?

One of our recent Curated Contest blogs included a link to a post about giveaways and scams. If you missed the link, you can find the post here. In a nutshell it comes down to this:

  • Jo Author writes a book and offers free copies through a giveaway on Goodreads.
  • Bo Scam Artist enters giveaway (along with many other readers) and wins book.
  • Jo Author autographs her book and mails it to Bo Scam Artist.
  • Bo Scam Artist immediately turns around and lists the book for sale on Amazon (in “like new” condition, of course).
  • Bo Scam Artist sells book and pockets the money.
  • Jo Author nets zero profit, and is out the cost of postage to Bo Scam Artist.

Pretty nasty, right?

Gray tabby kitten looking at a screen on a miniature laptop om stack of books

When I first ran the scenario through my head I was outraged. Yet another scammer making money off an author. Seriously, what kind of ethics does someone have to do this? Authors give away books in the hope of netting readers who are interested in their work, will read the book, and leave a review. We’re not in the market of supplementing someone’s income with giveaways.

Then I took a moment to focus. I got off my high horse and stepped down from the pulpit.

  • Bo Scam Artist may be unethical, but I opened the giveaway to anyone.
  • Bo Scam Artist is making money off me—I’m out the profit on the book—but I hadn’t planned to make money on it anyway. I offered it in a giveaway.
  • Whoever bought the book from Bo Scam Artist was clearly interested in reading the book, or they wouldn’t have paid $$$ for it. That’s a potential fan who might buy other books I’ve written which will net me a profit.

So, are Goodreads giveaways worth doing? It’s been reported that even the advance copies publishers are sending out to reviewers are being sold on Amazon. Ridiculous, right?

Let’s take it a step further: How many times have you offered an ebook as a giveaway on a blog tour or promotion? How many times have you won an ebook from a blog tour or promotion? How many of the books that you gave away have actually turned into reviews? How many books that you’ve won have you actually read?

ebook reader with A Desolate Hour by Mae Clair beside red tape in the form of heart

I’ve won books I haven’t read and I’ve won books I’ve read and enjoyed. Lately, I’ve made it a habit to only comment on a blog (offering a free ebook) if I’m interested in reading the book. That’s sometimes hard because you might want to support the host blogger, but I hate for the guest to award a book that may never be read. That doesn’t seem fair to them.

Let’s face it, we all have preferences when it comes to reading, and while it’s nice to venture into a different genre now and again, there are some genres we’ll never read. I know I won’t. So what do you do?

I’ve given away plenty of books. We all have. We try to find readers wherever we can, but we need to be prepared when giveaways don’t turn out the way we planned. When we don’t get the review from the ebook giveaway or when our paperback winds up on Amazon and someone else is making a profit on our work. It’s a crap shoot. You may win, you may not. Is it worth the roll of the dice?

What would you do? Let’s talk giveaways, Goodreads, Amazon, and ebook wins. Share your thoughts in the comments and let’s get some discussion going.

Bio banner for author Mae Clair

 

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80 thoughts on “What Would You Do?

  1. Nice post. Good to see that you look at both sides of an issue.

    In my view, modern marketing translates ordinary morality into con artist morality. You wonder why scammers crawl out from behind a rock? Because marketing has obviated morality. I never accept anything that’s free unless it’s really free (no strings attached) and I don’t pay for anything that’s initially proposed as free but costs money. Remains a minority of non-marketing corrupted business offers and services that are genuinely free because they are subsidized by volunteers.

    Am I throwing the baby away with the bathwater? (Maybe we should bring back infanticide.)

    Note: a lot of very good books were subsidized by their authors. Beyond Good and Evil by Nietzsche and Thus Spake Zarathustra by the same author, for example. Money is a bonus.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, and thanks for chiming in with your thoughts. Sorry for the late response. I’ve been offline for several days (working on marketing no less) and am doing a bit of catch-up. You’re right that free doesn’t necessarily mean “no strings attached.” What’s the old saying….”If it’s too good to sound true….”

      With the issue as outlined in my post, I think the common reaction is a knee-jerk outrage. But on second examination, there is benefit to be found beneath the scam. Or does it equate to free enterprise and ingenuity on the part of the scammer? Once again, there is a flip side to the issue. Certainly, the writing life has a steep learning curve.

      Many thanks for visiting and sharing your thoughts!

      Like

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  4. Great post, Mae. As you know, I have just the one book and I’d planned to print paperback copies to sell and give to family, friends, and giveaways. Now, I may reconsider the giveaways. I’ve given ebook copies for free and not received any reviews during the free days. Perhaps the same will result with print copy giveaways. In recent months, I’ve joined a couple of the large book tours because they promised to grow my email list and that list would, supposedly, help me market book two. Just as I’ve unsuccessfully given books away, I also haven’t read the majority of books I’ve won or downloaded for free. Donating the print copies to my library seems like an option. Lots of food for thought for this newbie. Thanks not only to you for writing this, but to everyone who shared their experience with this subject.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda, I have an indie release that I’ve done multiple giveaways on. They netted me a lot of reviews but nowhere near the amount of books I gave away for free. I guess that factors into people grabbing freebies and then forgetting about them or never intending to read them. I think more people are apt to enter giveaways for ebooks than print copies. I know I’m more apt to enter the former than the latter. Even that doesn’t guarantee reviews though. It’s always a learning curve with the results changing regularly. I’ve found that a promo I’ve done for one release may not work as well for the next. I guess we just have to keep trying all options until we find one that fits!

      Like

  5. Great post It is a lot to think about, and I haven’t reached any conclusions to this one, yet! I do giveaways, I have had reviews, but not many. I agree if they win and sell your book, you might get a fan. I have always read a paperback book that I have won – even if it a genre I don’t usually read and post a review. Even with eBooks I try to always read them, too. Although, I am a little behind with them and I might lose track easier – that is always my plan. Authors are the best readers, yet I keep reaching out beyond that. I am always so hopeful and keep trying to think of new ways to do things. I find is there is something free, there is always someone trying to make a profit off of it, no matter what the product. I figure, if I’m honest and do the right thing, maybe I will find other honest people doing the right thing and it will go from there…so, far I have had some good luck with that 🙂 I guess we are all looking for that magic ticket approach…

    Liked by 2 people

    • I like your idea that if you are honest and do the right thing, that honesty will be returned. That’s how I like to live. The Golden Rule can be applied everywhere if we make the effort. If only the world, as a whole revolved on that axis.

      I have read almost all of the paperback books I’ve receive in giveaways but I am not as vigilant with ebooks.I have good intentions but time (and other reads) often interfere. It sounds like you really stay on top of your reading list, D.L., and I admire that. As for how authors approach giveaways and earn9ing reviews, we are all definitely looking for the magic ticket. Now, if only we could find it, LOL!

      Like

  6. Great post, Mae, and enlightening discussions in the comments. I’m not at the point of even having a book to give away yet, but you’ve brought up some good things to think about. I try to review books I’ve read, but admittedly I’m more inclined to do so if I know the author “personally”. And a lot of those authors are on my TBR list–need way more time in the day to tackle that besides the usual working full time and writing. Then (as I’m sitting in the library 🙂 ) I think of all the books; the library has one or more copies, and tens of people check it out, read it for free, and return it, meaning only a handful of copies are purchased compared to the number that would be sold if each of those readers bought the book. Same with music CDs and videos checked out through the library. Wouldn’t it be awesome if the author got credit every time someone checks out their book (kinda like radio stations reporting how often they play a song to mark royalties)?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Julie, I love that idea with libraries. I know that I, personally, have gained readers through the books I have at my local library, but I doubt many (if any) off those readers have left reviews. The fact that they chose to read my book at a library rather than find it online is indication already that the online world is not something most of them embrace.I love the idea of an author getting some kind of credit each time their book is checked out from a library.

      As for reviews, I started by reviewing books by authors I knew, but eventually made the switch to reviewing everything I read whether the book is from an author I know, an unknown or an NYT bestselling author. These days the only time I won’t leave a review is if I can’t give the title at least 3 stars.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I do not give away paper copies. I have given some e-books away but those are harder to sell. Good discussion and I guess what I would do is rationalize someone selling my book the way you have. Books that I receive are donated to the library book sale with the idea that maybe a fan will be born. I no longer enter any contests if I am not going to read the book. I don’t download free books unless I’m sure I will read them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • John, you sound much like me. I won’t enter a contest or download a freebie unless I intend to read it. I have waffled horribly on whether or not to donate books I have received to my local library (mostly because they are autographed to me). I donate many of the books I purchase, so perhaps I need to view those I win in the same light. Certainly, it’s opportunity for the author to pick up new fans as a result.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I love that!!!

      I think you have convinced me to share those I have read. As an author, I welcome the opportunity to pick up new readers (and potential fans), so I’m sure those authors who sent books to me would feel the same way.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Interesting take on giveaways, Mae. I haven’t offered a public “giveaway” in quite some time. I tried running several giveaways (Goodreads and Facebook) a few years ago. It’s probably just a matter of personal preference, but like you, I only enter giveaways if I’m interested in reading the book. I do however offer my books free to individual readers/followers on occasion and run Amazon free promotions as well. Sharing your post!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve done several Amazon free promotions too, Bette, with excellent results. I had my giveaway book remain at a high ranking for weeks after the freebie ended, so I count those as a good author tool. The giveaways I did gave my titles the exposure I sought and kept my book in the limelight for a significant amount of time. I know a lot of people probably downloaded the book and never read it, but I picked up a lot of buyers I wouldn’t have otherwise.

      These days (as a reader) I’m a lot more choosy about the giveaways I enter, and would imagine that many of the people I seek out to enter my giveaways have the same philosophy. I honestly think it’s a good road to take.

      Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Mae, good post – very thoughtful. It may be that publishers have been dealing with this for years in the re-sell market and they view it the same way. It also may be that publisher might find a way to clamp down on it and make something back for themselves and their authors since they eat the cost of returns. Amazon is definitely making a buck off of the re-sales of print books. One more reason it’s a bit easier with just ebooks. As far as ARCs are concerned, I much rather giveaway ebooks than print because they are far less expensive.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree with your take on ARCs, P.H., and think most publishers probably go that route too, preferring to offer ebooks. I’ve noticed. lot of a “noise” in the blogosphere lately about print arcs from publishers showing up on Amazon from third party sellers. Sad that reviewers have decided to profit from the arcs, but in the long run if those resales bring fans an author might not otherwise reach, I guess there is a lot of positive in the mix too. As authors, it seems we are always treading water as the waves and nuances of the publishing/writing world fluctuate yet again.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Hi Mae,
    I’ve participated i a few Goodreads giveaways now, and while it certainly helps my list (people entering click the book to their to-be-read list) I haven’t seen any marked rise in those elusive reviews. Same thing with giveaways.
    The best response I’ve found is from my book buddies (Facebook group I started). I offer them advanced copies of my book and stress the importance of reviews. I won’t say all of them respond, but I do have a good core group and that’s all I can ask for. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Jacquie, I like the idea of offering advance copies to your Facebook group. That’s an excellent idea. I know that life gets in the way for all of us and reviews sometimes straggle in late but your strategy sounds like it would net some good results.

      And I forgot about the exposure Goodreads giveaways provide. That is another plus to offset the sourness of a scammer!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I never even thought of this before. You make some awesome points, Mae! I’ve never held a giveaway yet, but I have received quite a few books that remain idle on my Kindle. It’s my intention to read all of them, but now my TBR list is huge. It’s great, but I hope fellow authors understand the sometimes lengthy delay from downloading to posting a review. Lots to think of here. Fantastic post! 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

    • I think writers make the best readers which is why our to-read lists are out of control, Natalie! Like you, I’ve downloaded many books I intend to read but still haven’t managed to get around to. I feel bad because some of those books have been sitting on my Kindle for months, but and there are always more popping up to fill the space. I don’t read in order of books received, but often on what strikes my fancy at the time. I think most authors know it takes time for another author to cycle around to reviewing their books. We need more hours in the day to write AND read! 🙂

      Liked by 3 people

      • Oh my gosh…we really do! I have no real order to my TBR list. It started out in somewhat of an organized fashion, but that didn’t last long. lol. I’ve been trying to block out time to read Soooz’s newest release. Her books are much like yours and very hard to put down. I usually read before I sleep, but the Kindle is much too hard on the eyes, so it’s paperbacks only. The downside is that the majority of my TBR books I have on Kindle only. Petty problems really. 🙂
        Thank you again for reading and reviewing my poetry collection so quickly. That certainly put an extra hop in my step! Many cheers! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • My TBR is a mess too, Natalie. I know a lot of authors keep their’s in a certain order, but I don’t. I download books that strike my fancy and then as I’m ready for a new read I review what’s in the list and choose whatever strikes my fancy at the time. I do automatically bump certain authors to the top (like you), and I keep a list on my iPhone of those books that really make an impression upon me when I read the blurbs.

        Soooz is on my list too. I’ve read one of her books and have many more to catch up on. Lately, I’ve been mired in nonfiction which distracts me several times a year 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  12. This was a fantastic post! I am guilty on both sides. I have given away books and have never seen a review come from them. I have always won books and have yet to read them. I have every intention of reading them eventually, but my TBR list is quite long. The authors of those books might regret giving their books away. I love your advice of not joining a giveaway unless you can commit to reading the book and writing a review. It’s so tempting to grab everything that is free, and with e-books, it doesn’t really “cost” the author anything (unless they are gifting the book through Amazon). But physical books do cost the author. The author has to pay to purchase his/her own book and then he/she has to pay the shipping to send it to the winner. That has always cost me more than the sale price of the book on Amazon. So, it would be kind of readers to keep that in mind. Still, as you said, even if the scammer profits from my free book, if they are putting the book back into circulation and the new owner writes a review, the hurt isn’t as bad. Unfortunately, not all readers write reviews.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Your last point is such a valid one, Yvette. Not all readers write reviews. I’ve been a reader all my life and have bought books from Amazon for years. But until I became a published author, I never wrote a single book review. As a reader only (and not a writer) I had no idea how important those reviews were. If only there were a way to educate more readers on how crucial reviews are for an author. Even today, when someone compliments me on one of my books, I have a hard time asking for a review.

      As for me, I definitely hold back from entering giveaways now unless I am truly interested in the book, plan to read it, and leave a review. It seems fairer to the author. When I do ebook giveaways, I gift them from Amazon, so they do cost me, but I want a “verified purchase” should the winner decide to leave a review. It’s amazing how much authors have to take into consideration when doing promotion! 🙂

      I’m glad you enjoyed the post. Thanks for sharing your thoughts today!

      Liked by 3 people

      • I never wrote reviews before becoming an author, either. Like you, I had no idea that they were important. I’m getting better at asking people to write a quick review, but it still feels awkward for me. I have a hard time promoting myself; I guess it’s the introvert in me. Now, I write reviews for EVERY book, even if the review isn’t a 4- or 5-star. Amazon uses how many reviews a book has to determine which books to boost, so even 1-, 2-, and 3-star reviews matter. We just have to keep spreading the word and hope that it reaches as many readers as possible. 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

      • Yvette, you’ve given me something to think about. As you noted, all reviews count. My habit is not to review a book if I can’t give it 3 stars but perhaps there is merit in sharing a 1-2 star review as long as it is done constructively. You’re just given me an idea for another blog post and a topic for great discussion. Thank you!

        And I do need to get better about asking for reviews. Like you, the introvert in me is hesitant to take that step. Time to plow ahead and make it happen! 🙂

        Like

  13. Thanks so much for linking to my post. The fact it happened to me twice and I learned about both immediate resales was both humorous and frustrating. One winner sold it for less than I pay for an author copy, not to mention the S&H. 😄 I chalk it up to one of those, “Eh, what can you do” things. After all, I gave the book to them. By rights they can do what they want with it, even if most of us would likely just give it away rather than sell it. GR giveaways are still a great way to get our books in front of new eyes, so for that reason I might still hold one after a new book release. I just won’t give away as many copies. I hear they’re going to start allowing ebook giveaways. I’ll probably try those. Thanks again!

    Liked by 5 people

  14. An interesting post, Mae. My publisher doesn’t like giveaways so I haven’t done one on Goodreads. I do give away my books to libraries and schools and also as prizes for some of my fundraisers. I have had a few reviews and purchases out of this process. I also host children’s fondant art afternoons where I have my books available for sale and provide the kids and mothers with an afternoon of entertainment which I don’t charge for.

    Liked by 3 people

    • It’s great you’ve picked up reviews, Robbie! Your fondant art afternoons sound like a lot of fun 🙂

      My publisher has done GR giveaways for me, but I’m unsure if my books have ended up on Amazon from a third-party seller as a result. I’ve also gifted copies of my books to my local library and have picked up several readers that way, plus one request for a speaking engagement. That was quite flattering. As authors, we need to stay visible in all manner of ways, even if some (like giveaways) don’t always pan out the way we plan.

      Thanks for sharing today!

      Liked by 2 people

    • Craig, I almost included that scenario in my post. When you win a book that you don’t read, (or even one that you’ve read), should you donate them to a library or a library book sale where the book might find its way into the hands of new readers and new fans? Part of me is hesitant because the books are autographed to me, but the other part can see how sharing them with a library or book sale might be beneficial to the author. What to do?

      Liked by 2 people

  15. Like you Mae, I never enter any book giveaway unless I’m truly interested in the book. Still, I’ve won books in the past I’m pretty sure I’ll never read. But it’s never entered my mind to sell any of them. ‘Book people’ just don’t do that.

    While scammers selling free books is annoying, I won’t lose sleep over it. Like you said, the book is purchased by a third party who sought the book out…and paid for it. Maybe the result will be a review for the author, but the scammer pockets a few dollars and it’s a done deal. Better that than the scammers who steal an author’s work and sell it as their own.

    Liked by 4 people

    • A scammer that pirates the work and sells it as their own is the worst kind, Felicia. Pond scum!

      But I do agree with you about the scammer and the resale. The end result is that my book ends up in the hands of someone who is actually interested in it (if purchased). It’s just annoying that I let some schmo make a profit from my work in the interim. But then the world has many unethical people in it, and sooner or later paths are bound to cross.

      Liked by 2 people

  16. You’ve given us food for thought, Mae. It enrages me to think about scammers out there, but they are everywhere. Somebody wanting to make money for nothing. I haven’t done a Goodreads giveaway. Like you, I tend to comment only on blog tours of books I’m interested in reading. My “to read” list is long enough already!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Joan, in the beginning I would comment even if I had no intention of reading the book because I wanted to show support to the author. Then I realized I was probably doing more harm than good. Since then, I’ve adopted the rule of only commenting when I’m interested. I’ve also stopped downloading free ebooks unless I truly intend to read them. Like you said—my read list is long enough already, so it seems counterproductive to do otherwise.

      By the same token, I have a few authors on my “automatic buy” list that I would never have discovered if they hadn’t offered a freebie. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  17. An excellent and thought-provoking post, Mae. This sure feels like a tricky area. I don’t mind doing giveaways and will continue to offer them from time to time; however, I don’t like it when I pay a lot of money for a blog tour that just ends up full of giveaway scammers, so I’m pulling back from large organised (paid for) tours like that. For me, the whole marketing thing is a mine field. Thanks for this post 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    • Harmony, a friend of mine, who is also a writer, pointed out several months ago that “everyone makes money off authors.” Without us there would be no need for touring companies or book subscriber lists. Marketing has become a gold mine for so many. And, of course, as you noted, the big touring companies attract many who follow tours strictly for the giveaway (especially if that happens to be a gift card, which is a whole other can of worms). I’ve pulled back from the big touring companies too for the exact same reason you mentioned!

      Liked by 2 people

  18. Never thought about this and haven’t done a Goodreads giveaway in a while. Mostly because I’m more eBook and never better reviews from the giveaways. I actually think I’d prefer this scenario to a person winning simply to win a free book that they have no intention of reading. Fully agree with the reasons you gave since the book gets into the hands of an interested party. Since word-of-mouth is important and reviews are worth more than gold, I can see some benefit coming from that type of scammer. Reselling is how a lot of people make money anyway.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I don’t use Goodreads for giveaways, Charles, but I do offer giveaways on blog tours. It sure is a tricky one! 🙂

      Like

    • Charles, once I settled down and stopped being incensed by the idea of the scam, I realized the end result could potentially net me:
      a). A review B). A fan C). A repeat buyer.
      Not bad. I just have a problem with the ethics used to get to that point, but then when you open a giveaway to anyone, that does mean anyone. I chalk this whole scenario up to part of being a professional writer. It ‘s something we just have to live with!

      Liked by 1 person

      • There’s definitely an honor system at work with the Goodreads giveaways. You’re trusting people to read and hopefully review the book, but it’s out of our hands once the whole thing is over. It isn’t like this doesn’t happen to other authors though. People buy books cheap and turn them around for a profit. Not sure how big an industry that is though.

        Liked by 2 people

    • Ugh! Rafflecopter is worthy of entire post by itself. It’s still used by the big touring companies, but I will rarely enter a giveaway (even if I’m interested in a book) because of all the hoops you have to jump through these days (follow this, like this, comment here, etc.).

      Liked by 1 person

      • I put a few together in the past and it was a pain to come up with all the hoops. Then there are the ones that tier, so you have to do a certain amount to open up the next set. The group ones were massive too. I remember one that I entered and spent 30 minutes following twitter accounts, Amazon author pages, and Facebook pages.

        Liked by 1 person

    • The group ones are the worst! I generally avoid them, but if I know one of the authors involved, I’ll support their section.
      I’ve only encountered the tier once, although I think I backed out of the Rafflecopter when I realized I couldn’t get to point B without engaging point A first!

      Like

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