Why I’ll Never Run Another Goodreads Giveaway Again … Probably … Maybe

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.*

… Probably.

… … 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 .

*     *     *

standing color cropped tiny for blog postsCarrie Rubin is a medical thriller author with a background in medicine and public health. Her novels include Eating Bull and The Seneca Scourge. For full bio, click here.

 

204 Responses to “Why I’ll Never Run Another Goodreads Giveaway Again … Probably … Maybe”

  1. Luanne

    So. The other day I had to look at Doll God on Amazon. LO AND BEHOLD I found exactly what you are talking about! SIGNED copies NEVER opened for sale!
    Ticked me off . . . . Now I will seriously consider my reasons for doing a giveaway if I ever do one again!!!

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  2. Curmudgeon-at-Large

    Carrie:

    I have just gotten around to reading your post and have to admit that, as a for-profit-under-any-circumstance curmudgeon, I am a failure. Why had I not thought of this scam before? I am truly amused at the scammer who did not even notice that the author and buyer were one and the same. I am of the view that only those scams that net me a zillion or more dollars are worth pursuing. So far, none has appeared.

    It’s unfortunate that pirated or illegally resold copies of internet books don’t have a mechanism like a suitcase of unmarked bills that explode with marked dye when opened.

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    • Carrie Rubin

      Yes, I’m surprised a curmudgeon like you hasn’t thought of this already. Who needs those pesky books anyway? There’s dollars to be made! 😄

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  3. J.D. Riso

    I’ve never done a giveaway on a book review website, but I did have several fellow writers that I had known for years ask for a copy of my novel in exchange for writing reviews…which never happened. Then when their books came out they expected me to buy them. Um, nope.

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    • Carrie Rubin

      That would be frustrating, no doubt. Getting reviews is the bane of an author’s existence. There are so many books out there to compete for reader attention. Tough time to be an author. Thanks for visiting!

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  4. Jilanne Hoffmann

    Wow. This sounds like the reason so many baseball players try to sign baseballs only to eager kids. I think it’s pretty lousy of the person who receives the book. If they didn’t want to read it or if they didn’t like it, they could put it in one of those little lending libraries that are starting to dot the streets. Or donate it to a used bookstore, or give it to a friend. Geez. So many other options.

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    • Carrie Rubin

      That’s exactly what I do with the books I’ve finished reading ever since we downsized. I don’t want to re-accumulate things, so I give the books to the library or to a Little Free Library near us. That way news eyes get to see it too!

      Liked by 1 person

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  5. pegoleg

    That seems so wrong! And if you’re going to go to all that trouble, you think you’d try to scam someone for more than $6.99.

    Hope all your book sales are going great, Carrie!

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    • Carrie Rubin

      Oh wow, Peg, I just saw your review on The Seneca Scourge. Thank you so much! That was a very nice surprise. I’m so glad you enjoyed it. Made my day. 🙂

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      • pegoleg

        Your post made me think and I was embarrassed to realize I had never left a review of your fabulous book after I won it on a giveaway on your blog. Better late than never, right? 🙂

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  6. Kate Johnston

    I think giveaways are good, when in a controlled environment. You bring up a good point about giving away too many books. I am sure it’s easier for scammers to do their dirty work when they think they can go unnoticed in a huge onslaught of people vying to win a book.

    What I don’t understand is why the scammer would sell your book at so cheap a price!? Just to get it off their hands quickly? If it’s a new book, then they could seriously get more money for it. At least, that’s what I’d do if I was scamming authors. 😉

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    • Carrie Rubin

      The first guy sold it for $10 I think, but yes, the one who I bought it from sold it for $6.99! She probably has her account set to a sliding price: whatever the lowest priced copy is selling for, she’ll reset her price to a lower one. I believe you can do that with Amazon third-party accounts.

      Thanks for the Twitter share!

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  7. Kourtney Heintz

    I hear you. It’s very frustrating as an author. The worst is when you publisher runs a 99 cent sale or a free day, and in the next few days dozens of websites around the world now list it as a free download. At least with a paperback, it’s only one copy. Some of those sites say my book has had 1000s of downloads illegally as an ebook.

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    • Carrie Rubin

      Oh wow, I didn’t know that happened with the ebooks. Guess those giveaways aren’t scam-proof either. Goodreads is supposedly going to start allowing ebooks for giveaways. I’ll probably give that a try before I give up on them completely. And I’ll probably still do a paperback giveaway when a book is first coming out. I just won’t give away so many this time.

      Liked by 1 person

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      • kourtneyheintz2

        Yeah, it’s rampant. It’s like a whack a mole thing. Nope. 😦 I heard that too. I’m curious to see how that goes. 🙂 I think the paperback giveaways can be good for getting reviews. I usually get a good percentage of reviews from the giveaways on Goodreads. I think that’s smart. It’s hard because you want word of mouth spreading but you don’t want free copies being recycled by others for profit. Hugs.

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      • kourtneyheintz2

        Yeah, it’s been a bit harder to comment sometimes, but I just have to be logged into my blog and website to do it. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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  8. Claire

    Good grief I had no idea this happened! How completely bizarre, surely there are easier and less rotten scams to run!! I’m just making plans for my first release later this year, but looks like I’ll give a Good Reads giveaway a second thought.

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    • Carrie Rubin

      Hopefully it’s the exception rather than the rule. The giveaways are still a great way to get eyes on our books, and it’s nice to have people add them to their to-read lists. If I ever do hold another one, I probably won’t give away so many again. That would probably lessen the chance of a scam. Best of luck with your upcoming release!

      Liked by 1 person

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  9. Dawn Quyle Landau

    I haven’t had to deal with this, obviously, but I’d be irked! Writers work so hard to write good reads (see what I did there? 😉 ) and it’s not right that they GIVE books away, only to have the insult of that book being sold. I’d shuck the giveaways. Bummer, Carrie.

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    • Carrie Rubin

      Thanks, Dawn. It was a bit eye-opening to say the least. On the other hand, the giveaways do get your book in front of a lot of eyes. Some of mine have over a thousand entrants. Of course, most will never read it, but at least they see it out there.

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  10. Miguel Table

    I’d be ticked too. And totally agree that while they have the liberty to do what they want with their now-owned property, it’s a scummy to make a quick buck like that and I wouldn’t want to associate with people like that.

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  11. Sue Slaght

    Yikes I cant say I enter that many giveaways but would never think of selling the book. I might give it to someone else after? Fair enough to be frustrated. Good grief I say.

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  12. jono51

    I have cherished the books I have won. I can’t believe someone would flip it for ten bucks, especially an inscribed edition. To me that should go on the collectibles shelf.

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    • Carrie Rubin

      Thank you. Since the episode with Bob, I’ve learned not to address the book to anyone in particular. I just say Happy Reading or Best Wishes and sign my name. 😄

      Thanks for visiting!

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  13. Polly

    Disappointing at best, Carrie. Anyway, their loss, they don’t know what they missed! AFor sure they don’t deserve to read it, it’d probably be too much for them!

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  14. joey

    I read AND reviewed Eating Bull which was the least I could do, considering I didn’t have to pay for it.
    I must admit, I have won two more books written by others, and not even read them. To be fair, commenting led to a random win, not like I entered the giveaway as I have with others. I will not sell them, as 1) I may perhaps read them, and even review them 2) I could share/gift them if appropriate and 3) I think it’s in poor taste. I propose it is my right to do whatever I like with them, but selling them or wallpapering my closets with them doesn’t seem respectful.

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    • Carrie Rubin

      I was so happy you were one of the winners! What are the odds? And I really appreciated the review.

      Like you, I’ve won some ebooks from commenting on blog posts, and I haven’t read all those. But the few paperback giveaways I’ve purposely entered because I was interested in the book and that I actually won (only two), I’ve read and reviewed the book. Then I pass them onto the library or The Little Free library so they can get new eyes. Since we downsized, I’m trying not to re-accumulate things. But I’ve yet to win a GR giveaway. Hopefully I will one day. There’s great giveaways over there, and that’s why I won’t throw the baby away with the bathwater (I hate that expression). It’s not Goodreads’s fault there are a few shady characters in the bunch.

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