Monday, July 02, 2007

Book Giveaways – Everywhere!

I love books; I really love free books, so it’s no surprise that I love all these book giveaways going on.

I think I started advocating for book giveaways as a way to reinvigorate the Wotmania OF message board in early 2004 – at this time there were only the occasional sweepstakes programs here and there. Now, if you know what you are doing, you can find seemingly countless book giveaways that really don’t have any strings attached – all you need to do is supply an email or private message, sometimes with a name and address, that actually isn’t used for anything other than getting you a book in the case that you win. There really is no reason not to sign up.

Excepting bookstore and publisher sweepstakes, I think I first noticed on-line giveaways sometime in 2003. At that time, it was limited and author sponsored – I think the giveaway was a R. Scott Bakker book at Wotmania OF, and not really a true giveaway, but more of a contest. Starting a few years later, Pat over at Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist really got book giveaways going – he has them all the time. Other places like FantasyBookSpot had occasional giveaways, but nothing like Pat. Now it seems that everywhere I look there are more – SFF World, Wotmania OF, SFX, Fantasy Book Critic, Graeme’s Fantasy Book Review, My Elves are Different, SF Signal, The Fantasy Review, etc… And you can find many other sources for free books such as the reader review programs at many of the major publishing houses, bookstore giveaways at places like Waterstone's, publisher direct contests at their own blogs (such as Orbit), other blog contests (like what Carl sponsors at Stainless Steel Droppings), and even the occasional giveaway from the authors themselves (such as this one from Tobias Buckell).

Clearly the combination of every fanboy/girl out there getting into blogging and the realization by publishers of the power of on-line marketing through the fanboy/girl is making these giveaways even more popular. And why not – it makes good marketing sense (to me anyway). Even this survey indicates as much. Now the specific category of contests is really low, but if the winner of the contest starts recommending it to friends, or writes a review on a blog, or talks it up on a message board or a book club, the chain reaction starts and the cost of that single book has more than paid for itself in more than one way.

And who doesn’t love free books – I am a bona fide bibliophile and I sure do love these contests. I almost compulsively enter just about every one that I see, even though in many cases I could request said book from the publisher or I may even already have a copy. I don’t care, I get selfish, gimmeee books, gimmmeee more books. And if I don’t win, I often do buy that book.

So, my little blog is pretty successful – I’ve had over 20,000 visitors (not counting RSS views) and at a rate of several thousand per month, that’s growing fast. But I haven’t done any giveaways – should I? Perhaps I should declare my blog giveaway free just to be different. Well, that sounds good to me – Neth Space is and will remain giveaway free*.

*this is mostly due to laziness rather than any actual principled stand or desire to be different. In fact if offered giveaways, Neth Space would happily reverse this stand almost instantly – after all, I do love giveaways.


Carl V. said...

Speaking of freebies, here is a link to Estella's Revenge zine's July book giveaway:

Neth said...

Thanks Carl - and for those of us who don't like to cut and paste ;)

Estella's Revenge Giveaway

Neth said...

And Tobias Buckell has another way to get free books of his.

remy said...

Giving away free stuff is always great. It makes you feel like a year round santa claus. I am only a small blog though so I cannot give away actual freebies only the items that I buy to give away.

Joe Sherry said...

Love freebies! I received a copy of Crystal Rain from Buckell, Acacia from FBS, and two Kitty novels from Fantasy Hotlist last year.

And some from publishers upon request...I should do that more often...

Love it!

Patrick said...


I'm glad to be of service!;-)

ArielUK said...

We used to do regular giveaways on (going back 4 or 5 years now...) but we stopped because the admin side of things just became too time-consuming. Plus a bunch of online competition clubs started mass-dumping email entries without their members ever visiting the site. But there's probably some nifty open-source gizmo these days that helps you manage all the incoming emails and pick random winners. Would love to know how Pat and other handle that side of things...

The great thing about giveaways is that publishers have a lot more leeway to part with fee books than they do to part with cash for advertising, and you can set up the same sort of arrangements with PR companies promoting DVDs and computer games as well, if you're so inclined (and have the time...)

ArielUK said...

Or even free books... [sigh]

Neth said...

Lot's of response - excellent!

A couple of other active contests have come to my attention, so I'll mention them here.

I mentioned Graeme's blog - well he has a giveaway of 10 signed copies of Sean Williams' Saturn Returns - 10 winners, can't beat that (ok 11 does) - go here.

Also, there is this giveaway of High Seas Cthulhu over at Sci-Fi & Fantasy lovin' blog.

Almost everyone I linked in the original post has an active giveaway, so check them out.

J. Lyon Layden said...

Since you dig free books I'd like to send you one- The Other Side of Yore by Yours truly.
Just let me know and I will send one out for review!

Neth said...

-J. Lyon Layden

Thanks for the offer, but I'm really only interested in reading published books by 'traditional style publishers' that pay authors (however little) rather than print on demand/vanity style publishers that charge an author to use their services and only pay if a book sells.

When you get published, feel free to contact me at the email address on the sidebar or have your editor/marketer contact me.

Best of luck

J. Lyon Layden said...

Booklocker only accepts %5 of manuscripts that are submitted to them, and then only charges $99.

You end up making more money per book than so-called traditional publishers because they pay you
%15 to %30 royalties instead of the laughable %8 to %10 that "traditional" publishers offer.

If you'll look at my editorial reviews you'll see that it has gotten far better criticism than the average "traditional" published books that were reviewed by the same sources.

The ridiculous royalty rates that traditional publishers offer is one reason I turned them down. I just think the person who wrote the book should get more money than the company who took 30 minutes to submit it's feeds.

Also, these "traditional" publishers think a debut author must be teamed up with an established illustrator. If you look at the average artwork in children's book offered by "traditional" artist in cubicles, you will see why I could not let this happen to my work. Kenny Savage's artwork is top of the line, and I won't settle for anything less.

Maybe you'll reconsider you're prejudice, but if not, I guess I'll have to wait to send you a freebie until the big companies realize they are losing money and offer me something better than what they offer their average exploited author.

J. Lyon Layden said...

By the way, since you have a different definition for "published" than what is found in the dictionary, I can point you to Amazon Shorts or one of the magazines I am "published" in regularly. And I'd have to be really swa,ped to be paying a manager or publicist to do what I can do better.

Neth said...

-J. Lyon Layden

When I started this blog I never considered it would get to a point where anyone would care to send me a book with review. When I started getting books, I simply got very excited. The first one's came from relatively small press and I actually requested, then I started getting inquiries. I love it because I love books.

The books I live come from the 'traditional' sources - that's what I'm familiar with and that's what I trust. As inquiries kept coming, I learned that I would actually have to have something of a standard. What I've since developed is not strict and definately evolving, but I do have some clear lines. One is no ebooks - I hate them. Too hard on the eyes and the same feel just cannot be captured through a screen. That one was easy. Next I decided that I would not take print-on-demand presses. I guess that I'm an old-school guy and will stick to what I know. Maybe print-on-demand is the future of the entire industry. To me, it cannot escape the image of being the refuge of authors that aren't 'good' enough for traditional publishing houses.

I could be way off base - maybe you turned down 'traditional' publishers to go your route. Maybe you're an exception, maybe I just don't understand any of it. I'm far from an industry insider here - I'm just someone who reads books.

So, if you still want to send me a book - use the email link in the sidebar and I'll send you the info you need. Your book will go into the same pile for consideration as all the others. If I choose to read it one day, maybe it'll prove my thought of print-on-demand to be wrong - but maybe it'll it'll show them to be spot on.

Another thing I will say - I've now had a few exchanges with print-on-demand authors here and elsewhere and they all have much in common. I've yet to have one that has done anything but soured my opinion of print-on-demand. I've had many more exchanges with authors from the traditional sources, and without exception, those exchanges have been positive.

J. Lyon Layden said...

I understand your need for a standard, as I know reviewers get more books than they can read.
I was reacting against the "when you get published" quip, because as a 15 year journalist I don't see being published as something that is difficult or noteworthy. The coloring book at Shoney's was "published," and if someone wants to avoid the stigma of self-publishing all they have to do is get a biz license and name their press. I don't see being published by a small press or big house as something that proves worth. Even "Dragon Slayer's Academy" got published by a traditional, albeit on the coattails of Harry Potter.
I'm dissatisfied with the publishing industry. I think 6 months to 2 years is too long to wait for an answer, that with current technology a book should never go out of print, that authors should make more profit than their publishers, and that exceptions should be made to the "no new artists paired with new authors" rule, especially when the artist is better than average and is really emotionally and creatively involved in the work.
Is it too much to expect that reviewers and customers should use editorial and customer reviews as well as free excerpts to judge whether a book is worth reading instead of basing judgement solely on the name of the publisher?
I know there's alot of trash out there being self-published. But there are excellent works too. I can almost always tell the difference by reading an excerpt, author blurbs, the book's description on Amazon, editorial reviews, etc.

Neth said...

thanks for the response. I'm not in the publishing industry and I'm not a writer, and I'm the more I hear abou things, the happier I am that I'm not. Making a career of it is hard, and most writers need a 'day job' to survive. Maybe the POD avenue will change some this - but I'd not bet on it. Until POD/vanity presses can up with some form of standards, editing, vetting, etc. it'll continue to have a bad reputation. And for me, reviews don't mean much if I can't trust their source (which includes about every review on Amazon not from a highly visible and known entity - like Publisher's Weekly). So, there's a long road ahead there and a great need to 'cull the herd'.

Best of luck.

J. Lyon Layden said...

Editors cost around $250 a manuscript. It's not a POD's responsibility to hire one. It's the authors. Sadly, it seems that that's the case with many traditionally published books nowadays too. I've seen some pretty horrid editing jobs from several of the big houses in recent years.

Do you mean for me to understand that you and publisher's weekly are the only two entities in existence that have good taste in books, Neth? What about Kirkus, Midwest Book Review, The New York Times, Bookpleasures, etc.? What about the bestselling authors who comment on books by their peers?
Sounds like snobbery to me to only trust Publishers Weekly.
And what is so hard about reading a sample chapter? Do you need Publisher's Weekly to tell you whether or not you like something, or can you judge what you enjoy for yourself?
With a book like mine it's very simple to ascertain whether you will enjoy it or not. Look at the sample artwork, and see for yourself whether or not my claim that it is among the best artwork in YA lit is true. Read an excerpt chapter and determine whether you would like to read more. Simple, and more honest, to yourself and to the public.


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