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.


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

  1. 1WriteWay

    I’ve entered giveaways, sometimes by accident (the ones where you leave a comment on a blog and next thing you know the blogger is asking for your address — publicly — so you can’t just say, “thanks but no thanks”), but regardless of intent, I make a sincere effort to read and review before (perhaps) passing the book to a friend. So, I have a lot of books still stuck on my shelf because I can’t give them up until I’ve honored the deal 😉 And I do often give books away, especially ones I really like because at least then the author is getting some word-of-mouth publicity.

    I didn’t think it was it profitable to sell through Amazon any more since the individual seller is now competing against the ones who ship stuff to Amazon’s warehouse. Years ago I sold a bunch of books (knitting pattern books mostly) and made a tidy sum but that was before Prime and free two-day S/H. Anyway, I digress. I think it is pretty low to enter a book giveaway for the sole purpose of selling the book. Really, it’s pathetic and people who do that lead pathetic lives. Just sayin’. But I guess it comes with the territory since there are always going to be people wanting to make a buck off someone else’s labor. It will be interesting to see if Kevin gets any takers for his “free ebook for an honest review” exchange. And if he does, just how will he ensure that a review will be forthcoming? I shudder to think what he might do if the presumed reader doesn’t keep up his end of the deal …


    • Carrie Rubin

      Haha, yes, Kevin is more comfortable asking for reviews than I am. 😄

      I’ve won books I haven’t intended to win by leaving blog comments as well. I’m more careful about that now, because there were ebooks I won but never read. But the couple paperbacks I won because I was genuinely interested in the book, I reviewed. Like you, I pass them on after that. I figure new eyes on the book is always good. The Little Free Libraries are great for that!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Sherrie Miranda

    Carrie, I must have give at least 100 paperbacks away to people promising reviews. Maybe 5 of them have written them. I have also sent Mobis & PDFs to another 50 & maybe half of them have written reviews!
    That said, at least 90% of my reviews came from Goodreads, more specifically Goodreviews. My only real complaint with some reviews is that the ones giving me 3*s seemed to have skimmed through because they have a lot of facts wrong.
    If anyone knows another site where we can get reviews without paying (Amazon will delete them, as well as reviews if they see that you may be friends), PLEASE LET ME KNOW.
    Peace, love & more reviews for Indie Authors,
    Learn the story behind: Publish “Crimes and Impunity in New Orleans.” and help us meet our goal. @indiegogo


    • Carrie Rubin

      Hi. Thanks for reading and commenting. Sorry your comment went to spam (was probably all the links). Sounds like you’ve given away a lot of books! I guess that’s all part of this process, isn’t it? It’s just a little tougher on the budget for indie authors!


    • Carrie Rubin

      I’ve won some ebooks I never ended up reading. It was one of those leave-a-comment-and-be-entered-to-win things. I left comments to support the blogger, but I felt bad if I’d win and the book wasn’t for me. Now I avoid leaving a comment in that situation.

      I have won a couple paperbacks, and I’ve read and reviewed both of them.

      Thanks for the Twitter share. 😊


  3. robbiesinspiration

    I have never run a goodreads giveaway but I have given away books to schools and libraries. I don’t get reviews but at least the books get to my targeted audience and I hope the children like them and maybe are interested in the others.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. authorsinspirations

    I’ve never entered a give-away, mostly because i’d probably never win, but also because it’ll probably never reach where i live. But if i ever won a book give-away i’d at least read it, even if a review is something i’ve done only once.


    • Carrie Rubin

      When I ran the Goodreads giveaways I often included all the countries so everyone could have a chance to win. But it gets costly so sometimes I stuck to the US alone. But it’s always nice to have readers in other countries. 😊 Thanks for stopping by!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Carrie Rubin

      I guess if it ends up in new eyes that’s always good, but it would be nice if they didn’t immediately turn around and sell it. 😄

      A book hoarder is a lovely thing to be! Thanks for reading.


  5. Lucinda E Clarke

    I’m one of the dummies who reviews every book I read except for those I can’t even give 2 stars to. However, I was shocked this week to learn it is against the Bia’s Ts & Cs to give an e-book away if it’s in KDP. I didn’t realize that and I just might have overlooked that – but it doesn’t apply to paperbacks .


  6. John Maberry

    I doubt that I would giveaway many print books through any venue. It costs nothing to giveaway eBooks other than any promotional expenses. On the other hand, having not given away copies of a trade paper book, I was surprised to see a slew of third party sellers offering them on Amazon as an alternative to ordering them from Amazon. Amazingly, most were selling them at a HIGHER price than Amazon! Couldn’t quite figure that out so I queried them through Amazon and one replied they bought the book through Amazon and another said “through reputable wholesalers.” Given that they are asking more than Amazon, even if the got the book for free from somewhere, I couldn’t figure how this worked out as profitable–why would someone pay more to them than to Amazon?!


    • Carrie Rubin

      Oops, hit the reply before I finished! I was saying that would seem counterintuitive for sure. So far, the giveaway books of mine that were resold were for less than Amazon’s price (that I know of anyway).

      It would be great if we could give ebooks away on Goodreads, but that’s not an option yet. It’s supposed to be in the future. It still wouldn’t be free for me since I’d have to give away gift copies (unless my publisher approved some freebies), but it would still be cheaper than paperback.


  7. Shana Gorian

    I guess we should always sign our books ourselves before mailing them out, with a note to the winner, so they can’t so easily sell them as new. Thanks for shedding more light on this problem. It seems like the whole system is to blame. I wish Amazon would change that new policy!


  8. Jennifer J. Chow

    Wow, really? I was wondering how copies of my book got out there. To be fair, I’ve done GR giveaways and have had people actually review my novel. (Yay for the honest folks!) I must say, though, that I have spent a pretty penny when I’ve run international contests–don’t ever think that the odds are with you and the winners are more likely to live in the US!


    • Carrie Rubin

      Yes, the international S&H really adds up. My first giveaways included international readers because I didn’t want to be exclusive. But it seemed so many of the winners ended up being from outside the country that I kept it to the US for the last couple giveaways.


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