Thursday, February 11, 2016

The Joy Of The Contest

Goodreads is a great place to find free books, given away by publishers who are promoting a new title. For the publisher, it's a marketing angle that puts prose in the hands of readers who have friends who read and trust the reviews of others. Word of mouth sells more books than a print advert.

But there are those who are not avid readers. They are avid contest entering sorts, people who want to win prizes. It does not matter what it might be, and if it is something that can be turned into ready cash, so much the better.

Books can be turned into cash if you aren't looking for a big payout. Used book sellers buy paperbacks to be sold to recyclers in need of pulpable material that can in turn be made into new paper. Maybe it's a dollar or two, but it's real money that takes no more effort to acquire than trolling through the list of giveaways at Goodreads and clicking on everything.

How does Goodreads determine who to send a publisher's free books to, in that case? Does it make sense to reward those who have no intention of reading, let alone reviewing the book?

It seems to be happening.

Newcastlewest Books ran two promotions for our newest work, SAINTS OF THE NEW IRISH KITCHEN. Ten books were shipped off to winners, but the great majority of those winners had no books on their lists. Not a single review given. Not a single book read.

Just a lot of entries for giveaways, every day, day after day.

As a publisher, we wasted our time, effort and money to generate a little buzz about a witty bit of women's fiction. Without some reviews on a site where a lot of readers find new books, our copies shipped out to the brick and mortar shops are missing the word-of-mouth buzz that generate sales. How many people are willing to risk their entertainment budget on an unknown quantity? Sure they can read the opening pages, but they would feel more confident about a purchase if they knew that a friend, or a Goodreads reviewer with similar tastes, had said some positive things about the novel.

Is it worth it to offer a giveaway at Goodreads?

Not when the book does not land in the mailbox of someone who intends to read and review the book. Not when a publisher is doing nothing more than transferring some scrap pulp, or feeding the addiction of a book hoarder who collects for the sake of having a collection.

Maybe someone at Goodreads could take a look at the analysis that determines who gets a book and who doesn't. Like culling out the applications of those who have long been members of the site but do nothing more than request books because they feel so happy when they win something, even things they never use.

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