This week the last Goodreads “Giveaway” I ever entered lapsed with another “Sorry, Charlie. You Lose. Again.” By my count, it was my 99th goose egg.
Why did I never win? First the obvious: The law of averages. When GR’s plucking one or two names out of seven or eight hundred (and sometimes over a thousand), the odds of winning are somewhere between slim and none.
Now the almost-as-obvious: I made the mistake of only trying for books I actually wanted to read. Thus, the 99–a paltry number of attempts given the span of time this “service” has been available to me.
Incredibly, however (or so you would think), some people have won dozens upon dozens of Goodreads “Giveaways.” But if you look at their update feeds, you will quickly see why. These Giveaway professionals simply enter for nearly every book available–not because they want to read them, but because they are free.
Thus, Poster X’s update feed might read “Entered Goodreads Giveaway for Blah,” followed one minute later by “Entered Goodreads Giveaway for Blah, Blah,” followed one minute later by “Entered Goodreads Giveaway for Blah, Blah, Blah,” and so on and so forth for numerous screens of minutes-apart Giveaway clicking.
Well, hell. If you want it THAT bad, so be it! You can even join a group called “Goodreads Giveaway Fanatics” where members crow about their hauls.
For me, though, the coup de grâce for Goodreads’ “Giveaway” program came not with my inability to win anything, but with GR’s decision to charge authors a minimum of $119 to use this program. Yes, it is a service, you might legitimately argue, and nothing comes for free.
But consider this: Thousands of posters write thousands upon thousands of wonderful book reviews for free on GR’s website, all of which drives traffic to the site and generates sales at the mother ship, Amazon dot com (you might have heard of it). Perhaps, if logic follows, Goodreads should begin paying $1.19 per review per reviewer in reciprocity?
Which brings us back to the twin chances, slim and none (funny how that works).
Bottom line: I am out two ways. As an author who listed two books four times, I sent off four books and received zero reviews, so for me the program was a roll of the dice that came up snake eyes. Yes, there were no doubt good people who signed up for a poetry book giveaway with every intention of reading and reviewing it, but alas their names were not drawn. And maybe, in all fairness, one of those people who DID receive a book just hasn’t gotten around to it yet.
More likely, though, the winners were posters doing the equivalent of “spamming” the Giveaways pages by clicking “ENTER” for everything. Everything, thus robbing the authors and publishers of both the cost of their book and the cost of its mailing. If you look at these posters’ “To-Read” stats, you will see numbers like 32,598.
But, hey, them’s the risks, as they say in Vegas. You enter the game eyes open, you play by the rules.
That was then and this is now, though. For me, no more entries because, unless you’re a huge publisher with the budget to cover for your author, it’s unreasonable and unfair to charge writers working with small, independent publishers that kind of money.
Likewise, I’m done entering Giveaways for myself as a reader, even though I would review any book I won. I’m boycotting the whole, pay-to-play hypocrisy of it all because, quite frankly, the “Giveaway” is now a “Takeaway.” Call it for what it is because it’s all about the money and the profit, putting the lie in the denotation of words like “giveaway.”
I know, I know. Who cares? I’m still playing in GR’s sandbox, after all, because there are so many good people and good readers I care about over there. Still, one man’s boycott is a start–a mini-message to the powers-that-be. They need to button up their shirts. Their generous hearts are falling out, all thanks to the tell-tale tailoring of Jeff Bezos, a poor upstart in the industry (perhaps you’ve heard of him).
I know I have. Like thousands of writers whose small publisher happens to use Amazon’s CreateSpace publishing platform, I’m in the ironic position of having two books for sale on that author-unfriendly site. No choice, there. And no boycotting possible, as it’s the only way my poems reach readers’ hands.
Some time soon, though. Some new book soon. Change is a-coming!