Wednesday, January 03, 2018

Should I try to win a book I'd buy anyway?

A Facebook friend has a book coming out next month, and I'm definitely going to buy it because it's just my kind of book.

The author's been publicizing a bunch of giveaways, and I feel weird about trying to get a book for free that I am otherwise dying to pay for as, like, a badge of honor. I know there's nothing stopping me (other than weird Midwestern morality) from doing both, but now I'm dying to know: would you rather have modest pre-order sales or tons of activity on giveaways?

I feel like "pre-orders, dummy" is the obvious answer, but sometimes my logic is busted. Help!


Your logic is in fine fettle.

Getting people to part with their hard-earned cash is the ultimate test for a book. If you were planning to buy the book, buy it.

There's nothing morally wrong with entering a giveaway but I'm with your Midwestern morality (and I'm at peace with being weird!) in that I believe giveaways are to entice new readers, and clearly you're already committed.

This is one of the problems I have with giveaways in general: they are a shotgun approach to finding new readers.

I'd rather reward a dedicated fan, or encourage a new reader likely to love the book (ie I'd love to promote Jeff Somers new book on writing to people who bought Stephen King's On Writing) which is what makes Amazon's algorithm "people who bought this also bought" so enticing.

When I'm offered a free copies of a book I always ask the writer to give it to someone else if I plan to buy the book anyway. Even when I get an early review copy of something like Nick Petrie's newest book, I like to buy a copy for myself and use the promo copy as a blog prize. (Several of you are pretty happy with that choice!)

Buying books is the best way to support the writing community. Talking about the books you love is good too but shelling out actual money is top of the list.




PS I'm working on the contest results and hope to have them later this week!



37 comments:

french sojourn said...

I agree, as well. Buy the book. And this is from a curmudgeonly yankee.

When I say yankee, I mean a Maniac version from Maine, not a Yankee baseball fan. Go Sox!

E.M. Goldsmith said...

This blog reader is super happy with your choice to give promo books as prizes. And I buy a lot of books- I just hope one day ro find an audience of ferocious readers that buy books the way normal people buy food. That’s me- I spend as much on books as food most months.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Hey FRENCHY,I bet you hate that term, It's GO SOX all the way.

"Buying books is the best way to support the writing community. is good too but shelling out actual money is top of the list."

Speaking about "Talking about the books you love," I finished our Donna's, THE ROAD TO BITTERSWEET last night.
Buy it.
Read it.
The STORY is wonderful, the WRITING amazing.

Back to our regularly scheduled program.

Her Grace, Heidi, the Duchess of Kneale said...

1. Buy my books.
2. Read my books. While the royalties from the sale are nice, if the book is sitting unopened in your TBR pile, you're defeating the purpose of why I wrote it in the first place.
3. Talk about my books. If you don't, you're defeating the purpose of why I published it in the first place.
4. Lather, rinse, repeat with the books of other authors. There is no such thing as too many books in the world.
5. If you do get a free book of mine, do pass it on to someone else who otherwise would never have read my work. Tell them to do steps 2-4. If they are my audience, naturally they will proceed to step 1 after this.

Sharyn Ekbergh said...

I plan to buy Jeff Somers book on writing because I love books on writing and I enjoy his blog posts. I also have to break down (my book budget isn't what it used to be) and buy We Are Not Good People because I just love the title.

I also bought Horses of Proud Spirit because, yanno, horses and Melanie. I bought the entire Shetland series twice, once for my local library and once for Mom. If I decide to buy a book I buy a hardcover and donate it to our lovely library in town. So, The Seagull now has my bookplate in it.

One of the nicest things anyone ever said to me was my local librarian saying when she is thinking what to buy, "will Sharyn like this?"

And bought myself a copy of Beartown for Christmas so I could enjoy reading it again.

We also buy an astounding number of audio books for my dyslexic other person. Hundreds.

Bethany Elizabeth said...

My family shares books like crazy (with the exception of one brother who doesn't like fiction--can you imagine?!), and now that we all live so far from each other, selling a good book to one of us means selling to all of us. I imagine a lot of other families work the same way.

Harry Potter was the exception, at least for books 1-4. My mom read those aloud to me and my brothers when we were kids. Those are pretty precious memories. When the sixth book came out, she bought two copies: one for my brother, who was the faster reader and could give it to her first, and one for me, because I loved HP the most.

I think I lost my point somewhere. Oh well. I hope everyone had a good holiday!

Claire Bobrow said...

This is a great question, OP. Most kidlit authors have Rafflecopter giveaways to promote new books, and I never know whether to enter. Honestly, I'd rather buy the books or check them out of the library. I want to help these authors in any way I can, but I'd love to hear more about whether the giveaways help them significantly.

I'm planning to do better this year by leaving more reviews, though, whether I buy, win, or borrow a book.


A.J. Cattapan said...

As an author, I appreciate it when my friends and family members do both--buy a book and enter the giveaway. Lots of activity on a giveaway makes a book look like it's in high demand. I know some author friends who freak out if they're running a giveaway and nobody is entering!!!

Sometimes when friends have won, they've even messaged me privately to pull another name since they already have the book. Otherwise, they might give the book to someone else or donate it to a school or library.

I've done this for my other friends, too. When Carmela Martino's YA book Playing by Heart came out last fall, I won a copy in one of her giveaways. I kept that copy, but I bought two more for my nieces.

John Davis Frain said...

There is no greater joy than finding a good book that matches up with a friend. Then, you just want to keep loading them up.

I have (helped) turn my son-in-law into a voracious fiction reader, and I think I get more happiness than he does when he likes something I've given him. He's now a Walter Mosley fan, and although I've never had the opportunity to meet Mr. Mosley, I brag about my accomplishment anyway.

Melanie Sue Bowles said...

I am frugal as hell. I cut my own hair, shop at Goodwill, I'm the queen of reusing / re-purposing. But I'm not cheap. I leave huge tips in restaurants and fiercely support my author friends. I attend their readings whenever possible, and always buy numerous copies of their books - one signed to me and the other copies just signed, which I then use as gifts.

I used to do giveaways for my own titles - and I know it's a big "goodreads" thing, and I understand the purpose of giveaways - but it began to feel like the very hard work of writing a book and getting published was being diminished. Free? Sure. Free is nice. I like free. But I worked very hard.

Now, instead, when someone who follows me on FB tells me that they're "saving up" to buy my books because they don't have a lot of money, I quietly send them signed copies as a gift.

Sharyn YAY!!! And thank you. Kathy Joyce I also saw your note about my books a few blogs ago. Thank you.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

I just purchased Melanie’s Proud Spirit book because I don’t know why I don’t n’t have this and horses. I didn’t really need lunch anyhow.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

And typing on my phone is annoying. Lord help me.

Sherry Howard said...

Sort of OT, or yesterday's news. How have I missed that there's a Facebook group? I've been here forever.

And, I love to support authors, and know that Refflecopter entries often require an activity that they need. So, if I end up with two copies of a book, I'll gift one. Especially with kiddie lit, the author will usually sign your prize to the child of your choice. I've gifted many personalized kid's books that I've won, and supported the author by buying my own copy. (It's a pet peeve of mine though when Rafflecopter entries have ten actions for you to complete!)

Craig F said...

If you desire a book, buy it.

Still, winning a book makes it special and deserving of a place of honor.

It also gives you that bought copy to dogear, damage the spine. and mark up with a highlighter without feeling bad.

Critical reading and learning the nuance of plot, dialogue, word choices and so on is a big step towards being a better writer.

Claire Bobrow said...

Sherry Howard: I completely agree with your parenthetical.

Kathy Joyce said...

Do both. Give one away. Save the extras for birthdays or holiday gifts. Random giveaways are great. But, giving a book to someone you know will like it, who can recommend or pass it on to someone else, will grow readership. And happiness!

Eileen said...

I agree with doing both. It's always great to have an extra book to gift to someone.
I have the same question as Sherry. I tried looking for the Facebook group under The Writers' Room yesterday but was unable to find it. Can someone post a link or tell us how to join?

Sharyn Ekbergh said...

I couldn't find the FB group either.
And Melanie, I love the book. Can't believe how awful people can be to animals under their care. I'll be sending it to my sister who is planning on her next gallery show being all horses. Maybe she will be inspired to connect it with horse welfare. We could never have a horse so she had a huge collection of china ones.

Ashes said...

I say enter if you know someone you'd give the copy to.

First off, more traffic for the contest and awareness for the book if you participate (particularly if you had to share and Like and tweet to gain entries). When you participate you expand a post's sphere of influence and might introduce the book (it's cover, title, and concept) to new eyes.

Second, some people blindly enter contests and they are decidedly not the ideal winner. Potentially the book could go unread and unpromoted after it has been won.

Ideally the winner is someone who'll read, like, and promote the book. If you know someone you'd gift this to who you think would like the book, well we're halfway there.

If you can put this book in the hands of someone who you think would like it, who might recommend it to their friends or bookclub, or buy more copies to gift. Then yes, enter! That is more targeted than the more general conest might be, it could save you the cost of a gift, and you get to brighten a booklover's day.

Colin Smith said...

I'm a terrible person. Yes, I buy books. But I'm not at all averse to people giving me books. And I'm really bad about giving books away. All my books are cataloged in a database (a real database--not a spreadsheet), and my kids are welcome to read them. I hate it when they ask if I have a book, and I don't have it. That's probably why I don't like to part with books. You never know when you might need that book. I'm sure you can pull my reasoning to pieces, but there it is.

One day, I hope to have enough money that I will buy books that I've won, and purchase extra copies of good books for my friends, and shop at indie book stores, and be a generally good book-person.

Until then, feel free to put a bag on my head and stick me in a corner...

Melanie Sue Bowles said...

For anyone interested: Our little facebook group for Reef/Reiders/Writers is private. One of us already in the group has to add you. But to do that, we have to be friends on FB. Friend me (Melanie Sue Bowles)and I'll add you.

Colin You love books and reading. That makes you the best kind of book person! And we're kindred spirits regarding parting with them - it's painful - I'd rather ask hubby to build another bookcase.

Elise HUGS!!!

Joseph Snoe said...

I'm guilty of buying more books than I can read.
And I enjoy receiving free ones.


I've sorta done both buying and free with two books recently.

I won Agent Darcy and Ninja Steve in TIGER TROUBLE. I liked it so much I gave a copy to my sister's grandson in October, and for Christmas I bought the grandson the second book in the series (ROBOT RUMBLE!) and bought an extra copy for me

Also for Christmas I gave my brother a list of books he could buy me for Christmas. He bought C.J. Box's first Joe Pickett novel "OPEN SEASON," which I've been reading furiously the past two days - only 80 pages to go and many ways for the novel to develop.

Mary said...

I did a giveaway and made people say why they wanted to read the book. Then I had my mom judge the entries. I really loved reading the responses. They made me remember why I wrote the book in the first place and it was well worth losing the two dollars I would have gotten from an Amazon sale.

Amy Schaefer said...

Colin, I, too, was a reluctant book-lender. In eighth grade I loaned a friend one of my favourite books, and got it back in such poor condition that I protected my book hoard like Smaug for years afterward.

But I've come around to the idea that books are best shared. While we were travelling, trading books was often the only way to get something new. My girls would dance with excitement when then found a likely-looking book in a marina book swap. I'd much rather a book is out there in the world, being enjoyed by my friends and family, than sitting on my shelf collecting dust until I decide to read it again. Some books come back a little worse for wear. And some don't come back at all. But, on the whole, I'd rather take small losses and share the love.

John Davis Frain said...

Joe Snoe,
If you're entering Joe Pickett country, you just add a pile to your TBR list. They're more addictive than [insert your former favorite addiction here], and Mr. Box has penned more than a dozen of them so far. I won't even get started on his standalone novels.

I haven't read them all yet either, I'm still plowing through. But they're tough to put down when you know you should be catching at least a few hours of sleep.

Janice Grinyer said...

#1 I'd also post the giveaway as a public post on my own FB feed to garner more attention to my author friend. The more eyes, the merrier, right?

#2 I'd buy the book and like other books would share it after I'm done because I do this all the time lol

In fact, because we do this all the time lol, I bought a charter # from "little free libraries" online (they are based in Wisconsin, great startup story!)! It was my spouse's Christmas present :) We will be putting up a free book box this Spring once the ground thaws in our remote ranching area. Considering the closest library is 46 miles away, that there are ranching families in this area with little ones, we thought it would be fun to have a "pick a book, leave a book" Little Free Library box out here. Plus I get to pass along good books!

Anyone can do this, as long as you have a legal place to put a weatherproof book box, and are willing to tend to it :)

Janice Grinyer said...

BTW Joe Snoe & John, Joe Pickett is extremely popular around here- Montana- I don't think I have met one person yet who hasn't read C.J. Box's series! :D

Kae Ridwyn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Noise In Space said...

@Melanie Sue Thank you! I'll send you the fr tonight!

Head of the Class said...

I have a related question. I buy used books. I am aware that the author does not get any portion of royalties from used books, and I feel guilty about that, but yet...I persist.

I do so for a few reasons. One is because I am concerned about the environmental impact of publishing more books. Am I naive? Are one or two year old books still using up their first production run?

Wondering if Janet has anything to say about this. Thanks.

Janice Grinyer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kate Higgins said...

I would buy the book and when I won the 'other' book, I'd pass it on to someone I think might like it AND who would continue to buy books written by the author she didn't know until I gave her the 'free' book.

The above is known as a run-on sentence...but you get the idea...

Janice Grinyer said...

Head of the class~ Well, Janice the Forestry Technician has an opinion on the environmental impact of books lol (I primarily work for the USFS in collecting health data on your trees on your public lands :)

Trees are a renewable land resource- not only can they be replanted, cared for and harvested, providing much-needed oxygen, storing carbon, and healthy forests for the earth, but the end product is also environmentally friendly- its end product can be recycled back into new paper. Forestry is a Science that promotes the earth, not raids it. Proper Forestry management is the key.

There is nothing wrong with buying a used book (how else can we hang onto the vintage classics?), but there is nothing wrong in buying a new book too because the modern wood product industry is based on modern environmental science, not slash and burn. Slash & burn maniacs are the bad guys. When out shopping, look for the good guys- symbols on paper & wood products that represent sustainable management practices. There are world-wide organizations within the industry that are involved in certifying wood and paper products to promote a better earth.

In fact, Forestry Science was up on carbon credits and sustainable proper management way before anyone was thinking about the Climate. We knew all along it was about taking care of the trees :)

Beth Carpenter said...

I like to share books, but I need to get more proactive about it. Pre-kindle, when I would travel, I'd pack a selection of paperbacks and shed them as I read them, hoping someone who loved the book would find it in my hotel room or airport table. A few months ago, the woman next to me at the airport gate mentioned she'd forgotten to bring anything to read and I hated that I only had ebooks. From now on, I'm bringing one or two of my books in my bag, just in case.

Melanie Sue Bowles said...

Janice G (We're veering way off topic) But I thoroughly agree! Forestry and the planting/harvesting of trees for paper products is environmentally friendly and sound.

We're doing more damage to the earth and our oceans (and ourselves) by purchasing and wearing chemical/plastic laden creams and lotions, cosmetics and make-up, and then washing all those chemicals and plastics down the drain.

Head of the Class said...

Thanks, Forestry Janice, for the info!

Joseph Snoe said...

John Davis Frain and Janice Grinyer
I'm already addicted to C.J. Box. In the past 18 months I've read
Back of Beyond
Endangered
Blue Heaven
Off the Grid
Blood trail
Open Season

On top of my TBR stack is Paradise Valley and I plan to buy Vicious Circle soon.

I met C.J.Box at last February's Southern Voices Festival. I wrote about the meeting previouslyl:
Meeting C.J. Box