One of the marketing tactics that worked well for me during the release of Veneer was the venerable Goodreads Giveaway. For those unfamiliar, that's when you give away a certain number of physical books to random people who enter your contest. They are not required to read and review your book, but you kinda hope they. I believe with Veneer I got 2 or 3 reviews out of that 10-book giveaway. With the release of Por Vida, I got one 2-star review out of 20 books given away. That's what started my gears grinding, but barely. Sometimes you roll the dice and lose. But then something maddening happened.
As is my custom, I have Google alerts set for the titles of my books so I can see if they’re ever mentioned anywhere on the World Wide Web. Finding a random forum somewhere that has a rec for my book really turns up the self-worth, though those are few and far between. Sometimes, I even straight up search for mentions, as the alerts system doesn’t always grab everything. That’s when I found Por Vida on eBay.
Finding one of my books on eBay is nothing new. There are some eBay shops that pull directly from Createspace, so they’re essentially Amazon. And there are people who buy my books and, like their other books, decide to sell them. That doesn’t get me any royalties, but the book is theirs and who am I to tell them how to live their lives.
But then I found a guy selling a copy of Por Vida that just seemed a little off, and I couldn’t figure out why. He’s selling it for $12 (more than Amazon or Createspace), and it’s new… and unread.
Funny thing about those Goodreads Giveaways; they give you addresses to send the books to. And surprise surprise, the item location is listed as Stevens Point, Wisconsin, the same place I sent a free book to. So this guy entered a giveaway, got the book, and is now trying to tell it for a profit.
I think if he had read it and posted a review on Goodreads, that would have lessened the betrayal (!) of this whole ordeal. And my previous statement of “who am I to tell them how to live” still kinda stands. There’s nothing in this world that prevents you from entering every Goodreads giveaway you can just so you can sell the books you win on eBay.
That doesn’t make you a bad person.
But it does kinda make you an asshole.
This experience grinds my gears so much that I don’t think I’ll ever run a Goodreads giveaway again, at least not until they start letting you give away digital copies. You’re already losing money when do give away physical books, but indie writers typically look at it as an investment.
If you don’t get a review, fine, whatever.
But if someone turns your investment into their profit?
Ok. Done grinding gears.