I’ve wanted to write about this for a while, so I’m emerging from my blogging peek-a-boo and publishing an actual post.
I could have just as easily titled it “That Time Winners Made Money off My Book but I Didn’t.”
I’m referring to winners of book giveaways who immediately sell the book on Amazon (or some other venue) without reading it first or leaving a review, which, although not required to win, is certainly the hope. Why enter a book giveaway if you’re not interested in the novel?
Of course, not all winners leave reviews. Maybe they never got around to reading the book. Maybe they didn’t like it and want to spare the author a bad review. No problem. Expecting everyone to review the book is unrealistic. I net about a 30% review response from giveaways, and from what I’ve read that tends to be the norm.
Hmm, that book looks familiar
The first time I discovered one of my giveaway paperbacks had been sold, I had a good laugh. It was shortly after Eating Bull’s release and I gave away 25 copies on Goodreads, at no small expense. The second time it happened I had a good grumble.
Incident number one involved a winner I’ll call “Bob.” Bob most likely never read the book, because within eight days a “used” copy of Eating Bull was shipped to one of my husband’s colleagues who’d purchased it on Amazon. “It was like new,” the colleague exclaimed.
Well, that’s because it was. An untouched book with a lovely inscription made out to “Bob.”
My husband and I chuckled over the incident, and I chalked it up as one of those what-can-you-do things. I wrote about it last January in a post whose purpose was, ironically enough, to announce another Goodreads Giveaway.
Why ironically? Because a few days after that giveaway ended, the same thing happened again: I noticed a “new” copy of Eating Bull selling on Amazon for a mere $6.99.
“Well, well,” I thought. “Isn’t that intriguing? How could a new copy sell so cheap?” With suspicion bells chiming in my brain, I clicked on the Buy button and ordered it.
Sure enough, only seven days after that giveaway ended, a spanking new copy of Eating Bull arrived in my mailbox, complete with my autograph (ooh, a signed copy!) and shipped from the same name and address of the winner who I’d just mailed the book to a week before. How she failed to notice the buyer’s name and the author’s name were one in the same is beyond me, not to mention the matching return address.
I must admit I again had a chuckle, but I was also annoyed. Not only had I paid my author’s cost for the book (plus S&H to mail it out to the winner), I also paid to buy it back. She made money from my book while I lost it.
Scammers Be Scamming
Scammers are everywhere. We all know that. No doubt there are people who enter endless book giveaways, whether it be Goodreads, Amazon, or some other source, and then immediately sell the book to make money.
An article about how Amazon is changing the way it sells books touches on this very thing (Amazon Made a Small Change to the Way It Sells Books. Publishers Are Terrified). In it, the author mentions that a rep from one of the big five publishers figured “third-party sellers might be selling some of the free promotional copies that publishers routinely send out to critics and bloggers.”
To be fair, winners have a right to do what they want with the book, and that includes selling it. The more hands it lands in the better. But a read and a review first would be nice, especially since by entering the contest they are suggesting an interest in the book.
I 💙 Goodreads
I’m not blaming Goodreads. It’s a wonderful site for readers and authors alike, and they were very supportive when I emailed them about the incidents. I love the site and will continue to use it.
I just won’t hold any more giveaways there.*
… … Maybe.
How do you feel about winners selling giveaway books without reading them first? Any authors out there who’ve had the same experience? Any readers who enter giveaways? If so, do you review the books you’ve won?
*I should also note I’ve done a few Amazon giveaways, none of which have generated a review. I stopped doing those .
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