Book Giveaways …still loving them?

I’m curious about book giveaways.

I know people LOVE getting free stuff (who wouldn’t?) and there’s many a hoop I’ll jump through when trying for something I want but perhaps can’t afford/justify. This usually ends up in the realm of iPads or expensive kitchen equipment or once a new road bike.

Yet I wonder if book giveaways create the same buzz.

I’ll jump through some serious hoops for something I can’t afford but a book? I can always afford another book usually and yea I’ll enter the giveaways for one if I want to read it. But this is ONLY if the giveaway is super simple – ie, comment.

I won’t facebook like someone/something. (not even for a new car)
I won’t go on a blog hop.
I won’t go searching for clues/answers/icons.

Obviously I’m lazy and the end result is that my time/effort is better spent elsewhere when I can buy the book I want for a few bucks and luckily I can afford that. I realize not everyone can or wants to and thus really do benefit from giveaways in general. Which may be why there are so many book giveaways. It seems every blogger gives away books (though some are better at it than others, Chris‘ giveaways always seem to get quite the turnout). Yet that begs the question of whether or not a book is flooding the market with so many giveaways.

So I ask you…

Are these contests/giveaways effective in creating buzz for the book/author?

Do more people buy the book if they enter the competition and don’t win, or were they going to buy it anyway? I personally forget to buy the book while waiting to hear if I won the contest and eventually forget I even entered. I suck that way.

Is this still (or was ever?) effective marketing?

Do readers find them enticing and/or worthwhile?

23 thoughts on “Book Giveaways …still loving them?

  1. Tam says:

    I’m kind of like you. When I first found the genre I entered every single give-away. And I got a lot of books and I was exposed to a lot of authors, but now I’m already overloaded so unless it’s a book I think appeals to me, I don’t bother. And looking for clues, etc.? Forget it. It’s not worth my time. But easy stuff I don’t mind.

    I kind of got into the blurb writing thing on the m/m GR group for the anniversary, but I didn’t do it to win books, I did it just because it was a challenge to take those old pulp fiction novels and make up an m/m story. Sure, I won a book, but I was kind of “whatever”.

    Not sure why I’m more blase about it. I guess I just am not buying that many books lately. I go on little sprees and buy books but to be honest a quick coupon or “one day sale only” gets me more motivated than book give-aways. But I think they are still popular with newer readers or those who have a very limited budget. Luckily I’m not in a position to worry about an extra $6.99 here and there. But I know not everyone is in my position.

    • I do agree not everyone is in our position where we can just buy the book in question should we want to. However if you look (and I’ve not done an extensive survey by any means) but a quick glance shows the same kind of people entering. Not necessarily all sorts of newcomers. I could be 100% wrong of course.

      I remember entering a bunch of giveaways when I was new and rarely won any so I just gave up and started buying books and never really stopped.

      I think getting exposed to new authors only really works if you happen to win.

  2. In this genre, I think there are WAY too many giveaways. A dozen blog hops a week offering free books to those who comment. Where is the impetus to buy anything when all you have to do is wait a little while to enter a contest? When every stop has a giveaway for either the new book or a backlist title of choice, it’s crazy!

    I try to keep book giveaways easy and limited. Each blog hop has one giveaway, usually for the new release. All anyone has to do is comment on the post with the giveaway. For our anniversary blog hop, we do a little more in the number of giveaways, but we still keep it simple and limited in what we give away. I understand free can help sales, but I disagree that free ALL THE TIME helps sales at all.

    Also, I never enter such giveaways. The silly games some authors or publishers want you to do for the giveaway can be just… a pain in the butt. I know it’s supposed to be fun and engaging, but it rarely comes off as that to me.

    • The games I think are a serious turn off and usually I assume the publisher/author doesn’t actually want a big turn out and are purposefully trying to limit the number of entries. I can’t think of anyone that actually enjoys searching for clues or answering questions or blog hopping for giveaways.

      People do it if there is enough incentive and I feel like some giveaways want people to work for their freebies.

      I do think there are simply too many giveaways. I like the concept of a backlist title (like for example if Tam had given away a backlist book from the authors she’s highlighting lately) in terms of drumming renewed interest for a long forgotten title of 3 months ago (hehe).

      But in general I think there are too many and not enough real interest. If there was only one giveaway for a new title, I wonder if the turnout would be stellar or the same as if there are 15.

  3. Antonella says:

    Even when the participation consist only in commenting I tend not to participate. Often if I like the author I’ve already bought the book. I also find embarrassing to comment on a site where I never commented just to get a gift.

    I don’t think that giveaways are effective as *direct* marketing strategy, but in the long run if an author keeps giving books away I suppose readers will have a positive opinion of the person as generous.

    • You hit on a good topic where the perception of the author usually plays into sales. If the author has a generally positive online image, people aren’t likely to be turned off for any reason.

      What’s odd is that I don’t really associate the author with the giveaway. I suppose that’s wrong but I usually just assume it’s either the publisher giving it away or the blogger.

  4. Your three rules – yes. 🙂 I like simple giveaways. As I’m sure anyone who’s visited my site knows! That’s why I’ve decided my site isn’t going to be a blog hop stop anymore. Too much trouble, for the commenters and for me.

    I do believe giveaways increase awareness of the giveaway books, in several ways. Commenters might be dedicated fans who had no idea the author had a new book. Or they might be potential new readers, intrigued by the blurb, who might not take a chance on a new-to-them author otherwise. Even if they don’t win, they’re familiar with the book as they browse new/recent releases later.

    I used to enter many, many contests. Now I rarely do, and the last two that I won… I had gone out after entering and bought the book. Heh.

    • I do think all the reasons you listed are true. I often forget authors have new releases until I see a giveaway for the book (usually on your site) and think…hmm I might want to read that. So there is a nice incentive and recognition with a post dedicated to that book/author to remind readers.

      I usually never read posts about upcoming releases from bloggers and I’m not sure why. I usually find it too much of a wall of text without enough to catch my attention.

      To be honest I do think giveaways should be limited to just a few blogs though. I can easily swing from enticed to annoyed when I see the same book given away on almost every blog in my reader.

  5. I have been thinking about your post a bit and I think that they actually do still help in book promotion. I will say looking at my blog stats that most visitors to a giveaway post don’t actually enter to win the book. I would say probably 20% based on a really rough look. But those giveaway posts get FAR more traffic than my regular posts. Sometimes more than 5x the hits that my average posts get.

    So if an author or publisher’s goal is to increase awareness of their book, get folks to read the blurb, read the guest post, etc, putting a giveaway with it increases their exposure substantially, even if not everyone enters to win it. And from my point of view, more traffic to my blog is great. So I am not sure it matters how many people actually enter to win.

    That being said, I totally agree that having to jump through hoops to enter a contest is terribly annoying. Personally, I will not like on FB, tweet about a contest, or do other song and dance to win. I also find it frustrating when an author asks questions that require a reader to already have read their book in order to answer. This just seems unfair and sort of odd in a tour promoting that actual book. Presumably most people don’t actually have it yet. I am always curious how many people actually enter those things.

    But overall, I think even if not everyone enters to win a book, giveaways increase exposure (at least on my blog).

    • Well I can see the many benefits to the blogger to have giveaways. I’ve never really been a fan because I have a small reader base and am too lazy to really work to promote it or increase blog viewership. Giveaways are a way to draw people in since everyone loves free things.

      However if people commenting aren’t even trying to win the book, how effective was that giveaway? Say the giveaway attracts 30 people (which I admit is extremely modest) and only 20 of those are really interested in winning. That could be one free book with a net of 20 people buying the book but I’d think it’s actually closer to one free book with a net of maybe 5 actually buying the book. Still an overall win I suppose. However I’d think the margin of effectiveness becomes even more diluted when blog after blog offers the same thing.

      I’m just thinking out loud here. From a reader perspective giveaways are fun (though I hear from a lot of people they don’t bother to enter) but from an author perspective, I’m not sure the great number this genre has equals to that much promotion.

  6. I look at it from a reader perspective, though I am an author. So, *if* I do give aways, they are sooooper easy. And rare. And aimed at people who haven’t read my stuff yet.

    I’ll comment for a chance to win, but I only do it for new authors whom I’m not sure about spending $6-7-8 on. And I mostly do it on sites that I post on already, at least occasionally. My auto-buy authors? Like Antonella, I’ve generally pre-ordered, or at the least bought it on release day. (I love Jordan Castillo Price’s contest on her news letter – you’re entered by opening it! Of course I have her entire backlist already, so the one time I won… there was nothing new for me to get!)

    I do remember a time, long ago, when contests were fun. I think it was because there were FAR fewer sites to slog through. And ebooks were this novel new thing. And a lot of times it was a print book being given away…

    • Yanno I do think that’s the target audience – people who are new to the author – for the giveaway to be effective. After all, those who already like the author are trying to save money they would have spent anyway so from an author perspective, how is that worthwhile?

      But I ask.. how do you target the “new to you” demographic? Is this by offering a backlist title?

      It’s funny you mention JCP because it’s the same with me. I buy everything of hers so should I ever win (haven’t yet) there’s really nothing for me to get. I’d prolly get one and give it to someone -ha.

      I think contest used to be fun and print books seem fun and new since it’s all ebook these days. But I also think contests and giveaways were fun because there were only a handful of them in the blogosphere. Now every blogger does them.

  7. Saw this via Chris linkity post and had to look.

    So with you, I do not want to do anything else than comment. Nope I wont tweet it, I do not want to follow you on fb etc etc, I do not want to do this or that.

    But yes I do hold them (but my readers do not have to do anything else than comment) They are fun as I have them with interviews or guestposts. Something else than just my usual stuff

    • I can think of a lot of reasons for bloggers to have giveaways and contests. It’s usually an added bonus on an interview or guest post (people are lazy and rarely read those interviews or so I’m told) so I can see adding incentive. Plus it’s a nice bonus to offer your blog readers.

      Do you enter ones or new to you authors or usually authors you already buy?

  8. Avalie says:

    As a reader who buys lots of books, I do love to win them as well. However, sometimes you end up winning books you really don’t want! I love Chris’ site and read it religiously every day (Monday to Thursday to find out what free book is on offer and Friday for linkity which I spend hours on. And mustn’t forget Mayhem and Chaos!).

    So, rambling on, i like the simple comps like Chris’, but I also greatly enjoyed the recent Goodreads m/m comps with lots of different games, eg book cover Sudoku, find the book from the quote, Memory game etc.
    I hate rafflecopters and will not do Facebook, twitter, etc.

    Have been doing many comps over last 3 months, and won a good few books and couple of coupons. In the process I have found a few good new authors, saved myself some money on winning books by favourite authors, and also won a few duffs.

    Thing is, I don’t end up saving any money on buying books, cos every time I find a new one I have to go and buy their backlist!

    • Well then you’re the perfect person to win because not only are you exposed to new authors but you go out and buy their backlist too. I love backlists personally and if I like an author I buy EVERYTHING they’ve ever written. Anyone can tell this by my sad but thorough Nora Roberts collection up to when I stopped reading her. It’s the same for me for any author I like.

      I think it’s great you like the games and etc. I’m way too lazy for that but it’s nice to know that they’re still a hit with readers. You bring up a great point about winning coupons. I do like those contests.

      • Avalie says:

        Hey, it’s always good when you get a response to a comment.
        I used to buy nearly all Nora Roberts books too! I still buy her JD Robb occasionally as audio cos they are great to listen to when driving.
        My move to an ereader, and geographic restrictions, DRM and agency pricing drove me away from nearly all my fave authors into whole new territory of non DRM, indie publishers and m/m. So I no longer buy every new book by Julia Quinn, Susan Anderson, Tara Janzen, Rachel Gibson, Jo Beverley, etc etc. For me, I think geographic restrictions had the most impact, this drove me mad when I could not buy my fave authors new books (I’m in UK).

  9. And just don’t y’all just love Rafflecopter. I can’t wait what’s next–write a book review about me on Huffington Post, start a Tumblr page in my honor, pin every review you can find of my book to Pinterest, name your three favorite characters in my last three books! (PS Do I win something forthis comment?)

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