I've noticed, myself included, that there's a huge rise in giveaways by authors and bloggers, whether it be a flash giveaway or a rafflecopter. The intentions are good, but I wonder if the giveaways cheapen our relationships with our readers. They are no longer looking to interact with us because they (and I'm not saying ALL) know we'll do a giveaway to buy that interaction. With that bribery I believe it's in hopes that we will gain readers and our sales will increase. I have not seen this happen personally except on my release days. There are a few issues with giveaways that I have observed.
1) The giveaway host either forgets or lags in sending the winner their prize. I for one know I am guilty for lagging, but not always. It depends on my life situation at the moment, but I know it's seen as unprofessional so I need to be on top of that better. Now the real issue seems to be that readers have grown accustomed to these giveaways and are louder and more confident to call you out publicly if they did not recieve their prize. My issue is for both sides on this. These are gifts, essentially. You did not pay for it so really it's the discretion of the giveaway host whether they are going to follow through with it. Is it unprofessional and somewhat unethical if they don't follow through? Well, of course, but to stoop to bottom feeder level and call them out on Facebook, twitter, etc. is worst in my opinion. On the flip side the giveaway host is buying your fanship (I believe I just created a word there) which by some is seen as unethical. In reality it is a marketing tool, but at what point do we step back and crunch numbers and realize it's a bad one? Well, I have and the numbers just don't work. If I was super on my game right now I would show you the mathematical proof, but I just woke up and would rather write my novel (sorry).
2) You can't buy true loyalty. Yes, you can try to buy the fans of your page and hope they become loyal readers, but how often does that actually work? It doesn't. Not enough at least for giveaways to make sense. And when I say giveaways I am talking about ones with prizes that cost a few dollars or more. I think the smartest giveaways are bookmarks. Those are cheap to make and send out and it still gains a lot of interaction and it advertises your brand. Other inexpensive swag makes SMART giveaways too.
3) Readership Numbness. I believe that readers, fans, whatever you want to refer them to, become numb to our giveaways and also expect us to do them. Some believe that since we do so many that all they have to do is email or private message us and we'll just give them stuff because they asked. And wait for it...they get mad if you say no (GAH). Then there are others that don't even do what's asked in the giveaway or even read the entry instructions and just write DONE in the comments. Of course, there are exceptions to everything. There are amazing readers out there who play fair, are sweet, and gracious, and to those we are all grateful for.
I guess the reason I am writing this is because after seeing how much I spent in promotion last year and seeing where I am at already this year compared to the number of book sales, I am realizing I'm not promoting smartly and I don't want others to fail like this. Moving forward I won't be doing giveaways like I used to. I want to believe that if I interact with the readers thoughtfully through Q & A and such that they will want to stick around for my next book release and a possible flash giveaway surprise. I want to build a REAL relationship with my readers and not one that's based on monetary compensation and/or bribery (I am talking about giveaways here. I don't partake or condone in any bought reviews).
I want to close this off on a positive note. I appreciate how far I have come in such a short period of time AND I appreciate the readers who have become REAL fans and loyal followers. My job is to write quality stories not to do giveaways, so I promise that I will do better by my fans and myself to make that my primary focus. Of course, I'll always do THANK YOU giveaways!
xo Dani xo