How To Annoy A Book Blogger: Do A U.S. Only Giveaway

Yes, I´m looking at you, European, Asian, Australian book bloggers… basically any book blogger NOT living in North America. The United States of America.

Or as I like to call them ( including myself )…

The unfortunate suckers who don´t live in the land of endless book possibilities.

 

Do you see where I´m going with this? You don´t?  Let me help you out because I´m DYING to get this out there.

Everyone is aware of this but it´s not been bitched about enough ( or, loud enough ). Hardly anyone has taken a stand and spoken up to the injustice that´s been done to us common foot folk outside the U.S.

Bookish GIVEAWAYS for U.S. Only.

Maybe you need a little more help understanding what exactly the problem here is.

Authors and publishers and whoever else belongs to the upper book industry tend to offer wonderful book – ish gifts to win…. and immediately reject millions of bloggers / readers by adding a nice little line at the end of each published GIVEAWAY post.

 

“This GIVEAWAY is only open for the U.S.”

“U.S.A only.”

“Not international.”

 

What this means is: Authors ( mostly self published ) like to give away printed copies of their books or book related swag to someone who participates in a social media post. Just like that! Just add a gif / say how your day´s been going / post a pic from your pet / say how much you love the author and BAM! You have a pretty good chance at winning a signed copy.

How nice. Actually, that´s very generous of these people. I mean.. We ( the people who read and blog about those books ) are truly grateful for authors who like to show their appreciation by letting someone win a signed copy of their book.

And guess what? There are quite a few of us book people. Hundreds, even thousands of book people ( fans and book bloggers alike ) are spread across the world living on different continents…

So you can guess how many people get excited when they spot a GIVEAWAY on social media? Many.

 

But still…. 90% of us bookish people get rejected right away, before even having the chance to win ANYTHING because we don´t live in the U.S.

That´s cute. It´s almost the same as dangling a carrot  in front of a donkey just to get it to react.

And, react, we do! 

I must say, though.. this isn´t a case of racism. It´s a financial matter ( or so I´ve been told ). I´ve also been told that not all authors like the drive to the post office ( which hardly makes sense ). For whatever reasons authors keep their book GIVEAWAYS within their own country.

Let´s do a recap on how international book bloggers / fans / readers feel after seeing a non – international GIVEAWAY.

Readers / Book Bloggers / Fans Feelings

 

  • Sad
  • Hurt
  • Frustrated
  • Indifferent ( which should be a good thing for the author )
  • Pissed off
  • Annoyed
( not all GIVEAWAY participants react the same. But they all feel the same )

 

And everyone just sits back and either sighs, throws a fit within their own 4 walls or contacts fellow bloggers who don´t live in the U.S and complain. Hardly anyone complains out loud. Maybe if someone would speak up and say something… Maybe things would change for us international people?


Or, maybe not. The chances of an author sitting at home / work reconsidering their whole GIVEAWAY system probably won´t happen. Ever.

Because most american authors are starving artists, right? They want to earn money and not spend  extra on someone living outside their own country. They´re not alone. U.K. authors ( incl. every other author in the world ) are starving artists, too. Guess what? Readers are poor little boogers, as well. So are book bloggers.

Quit gasping in shock! I haven´t mentioned anything that isn´t the truth.

Authors, HOLD YOUR BREATH! I´m not finished. Don´t get that pitch fork just yet because I´m going to lay out some shocking truths that might leave a few of you stunned beyond means. Don´t worry. I´m not going to do a PowerPoint presentation ( although I´ve been known to give killer presentations ). No. I´m just going to dish out some facts that might have you rethinking your whole U.S. ONLY giveaway strategy.

 

In case you´ve forgotten- North America is the 4th largest continent located in the Western Hemisphere. ( excluding Canada, here, because most authors don´t include a country within their own continent into their GIVEAWAYS)

North America is 1 of 7 continents and, therefore, does not take up even close to half of the world´s population ( in country, continent nor in population size if you take away Canada).

world-map

Ergo: There are more people outside the U.S than in the United States of America. There may be many american book bloggers but there are just as many ( if not more ) book bloggers world-wide.

So, why do many american self-published authors post U.S. ONLY GIVEAWAYS when it comes to gifting bookish material and printed books? Could it be because the american market is much greater than any other in the world? Are the american book bloggers / fans / readers more worthy? Or, no… wait. My bad. It´s because shipping is expensive.

Yes. I understand. Shipping costs can be a bitch. So, I guess the matter is settled then. Case closed. I will never question the U.S. ONLY vs. International ever again.

NOTHING IS SETTLED!

 

Time for simple math:

1 author publishes 5 books. 1 book costs around 10 euros / USD / British Pound ( just to name a few ).

5 x 10 = 50 euros / USD / BP

1 fan / book blogger spends 50 smackers for someone´s work ( and that work has usually been edited by the friendly internet neighbor )

Multiply that by 3.000 ( random number of readers ) and the author has made “some” money. Maybe not enough to retire from but enough to purchase whatever they´ve been wanting for some time.

 (Not going into specifics there because I truly do not know how authors handle their earnings. Certainly not by doing international giveaways, though )

 

So, where is the problem, again? Aah, yes. I forgot. Some self-published american authors can´t open their GIVEAWAYS internationally because of brutal, life crippling shipping costs.

But they don´t say a word about us world-wide readers / fans / book bloggers who spend all their hard-earned money on some of those authors books. Yeah, that makes sense. Not.

It doesn´t make sense. None. Null. Nil. Zero.

If you think about it… the whole U.S. ONLY thing doesn´t make any sense. Why exclude others? For what reason?

Would it also be wrong of me to mention that quite a few big book blogs with a rather large following are from Europe? Even the smaller blogs with little following are worth the time of day because they have fans / followers others don´t. Isn´t the whole point of a giveaway to make someone happy and possibly have that happy person spread the book word?

 

 

Hey, pssst! Guess what? Global means more people. Global means that books can travel far. Maybe a book blogger from some long forgotten village in France has an uncanny marketing skill and can spread the word like no other?

Once upon a time I was a member of a really well-known fan page from a well – known author ( this is a true story. Listen carefully. Or, read carefully )

I was in this group. Guidelines were for shit ( basically, no one was allowed to do anything besides gush over the awesome author ) and only a selected few were allowed to run the same page. Anyway….

Every Friday, the group had a GIVEAWAY theme going where authors / fans were able to give away books and what – not. And naturally, ebook giveaways were international and signed print copies…weren´t ( shipping, remember? ). Every Friday I watched the same people get excited or frustrated… Until I had enough.
I couldn´t take the misery anymore. “U.S. Only. Not international…” So, I posted my own giveaway on the page.

“I´m giving away 3 new printed copies from X author. Winner will be randomly picked. OPEN INTERNATIONALLY.”

I even added that I find it a crying shame that most fans were purposefully excluded. I was contacted by the group admins ( not the author herself. She was obviously too busy being fabulous ) and was asked NOT to do something like that again as it was disrespectful towards the other authors who were doing U.S. Only giveaways.

 

Good God. Really? Seriously? Where was I disrespectful? Because I gave away books to the unfortunate majority outside the U.S?

Hey! I could have said “Europe Only“. But I didn´t. What I did was-

I picked someone from Canada ( Canadians liked to be left out, as well ), from the Netherlands and from Thailand.

I spent money… All in the name of making someone happy. A once in a lifetime thing for me.

And before you think: “Oh look at her. Bla bla bla…” No. Stop pointing fingers at me.

I had a moment. I was pissed because I would have liked to have had the opportunity to take part in one of those U.S. Only giveaways. But because I live in Europe and shipping puts major holes american author´s wallets… I was forced watch others win book swag, printed copies, etc.

So, I´ve made it my mission to pick a social media group and give away 3 paperbacks once a year.

For me, authors use that excuse and us readers are expected to accept that without another thought.

Me? I would accept the excuse if I didn´t know better.

So, again…. WHY U.S. Only giveaways?

Have authors forgotten that in order to gain something you have to invest? Because that´s a thing. A real thing. It´s all about give and take. It´s about sharing and caring. It´s not about me me me and my country because shipping is outrageous. That´s just selfish on so many levels. Might as well change your name to Gollum.

 

 

We´re all in this business to make people happy ( ok. some of you are in the business to make money. That´s okay. I´m not judging ).

I´m not here to tell people what they need to do or how they could improve themselves. Everyone should be able to know for themselves what´s right and wrong.

It just saddens me to no end that people are being purposefully left out for the sake of saving a buck or 5.

 

Because readers and book bloggers are loyal fans. It´s rewarding when an author receives positive feedback from readers just as it is rewarding for us readers when we discover a great book. It´s a hippy – dippy world with rainbows and glitter until some author does a U.S. Only giveaway.

And for me ( and probably for others as well ) it´s double painful when we ( international readers / book bloggers ) bust our asses off with promos and mentions, shares and likes, etc and THEN read that we can´t participate in a signed copy giveaway because the author doesn´t agree with shipping costs.

( and don´t get me started with publishers!)

It´s unfair. It´s mean. It´s just shitty. But above all…. this needs to change! Not just for me but for the rest of the bookiverse.


NOTE: I have nothing against american authors, american book bloggers, or americans in general. I´m one myself living abroad. ALSO, I did NOT point my finger at anyone specifically nor did I mention any names. If you´re an author and you feel guilty then it´s up to you to make some changes. I also made a point of using words like ” some, many, most ” to not offend every american self published author. I´m fully aware that not all american writers do U.S. Only giveaways.


 

What are your thoughts on the subject? Have you tried entering author giveaways before? Have you given up on author giveaways? Let´s chat!


 

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Blogging Life: 5 Things I´ve Learned Since I Started Blogging

A huge THANK YOU to Danielle @ Books, Vertigo & Tea for not only revealing her own personal blogging experiences but also for inviting others to share their experiences as well. ❤

With her kind invitation to post on social media and tag her, I thought it would be a much wiser idea to use the space here instead of ending up in social media jail… again ( because I´ve seen the walls in social media jail once too often. It isn´t pretty. Not going back. )

 

I advise you all to hop on her to her blog and shower that woman with virtual flowers and love for her commitment and contribution to the book blogging community. She´s a gem. ❤

For months now I´ve tried to think of clever ways to create a post where I can reveal all my deepest thoughts and experiences I´ve had ( or still have ) in my 8 year blogging career…. I haven´t come up with a clever idea yet. I can´t come up with anything because most of my experiences weren´t positive ( yes, I´ve often fallen flat on my face in the blog learning process ). Mistakes have been made. Thankfully, I´m older but none the wiser but I have learned that….

 

  1. Dealing with people never was, is, and never will be…  always easy.

In the 8 years I´ve been book blogging ( minus the 1 year creative break ) I´ve had lots of interactions with authors, fellow book bloggers, followers and readers. Sounds overwhelming, right? It used to be. There was a time when I let many people run over me / my blog for the sake of the blog´s reputation. I used to blog professionally. And with that came hours of hard work and interaction. And because my blog was on a well successful professional path I let authors, fellow bloggers and readers do as they pleased. I became a people pleaser when in reality- I´m nothing close to being a people pleaser. Unthinkable now. It took me 5 years and a 1 year break to understand that I am my blog. No one else. While I have had the pleasure of interacting with beautiful people during by blogging years, there were many rotten eggs in my interaction repertoire. To this day I cross paths with rotten authors but I deal with them in the real, non pleasing fashion. Makes life so much easier for me.

Here´s a real Before & After scenario.

Before: 

“I didn´t like your review. Can you change it?” 

“What exactly needs changing? Maybe I can reword the review.”

After:

“I didn´t like your review. Can you change it?”

“Well, I didn´t like your book. Will you change it?” 

 

What I learned: You don´t have to bend over backwards to run a blog. Just take it all a day at a time. Deal with it or not. It´s up to you and no one else. Just enjoy what you do.

 

2. Reading Should Be Fun. Not A Chore.

This is probably one of the biggest mistakes I´m happy I´ve learned from.

Being a professional book blogger ( or a non professional one ) you have to read because reading is part of the book blogging deal, right? And with a blog consisting of 3 adult women, we were able to read & review at a quick pace. It sounds like a perfect plan but in reality it´s a mess. I´m a very organized person who goes by the clock. I always knew what I was capable of doing so reading 3 books a week and pushing reviews out was the least of my problems. My biggest problem was with the co-bloggers accepting arcs and not being able to keep their schedule due to life ( not life issues. Just life.) and I was there to pick up the pieces. Without fully comprehending the situation I was suddenly buried under a large pile of unread arcs and my own personal reads. This lasted over 2-3 years and during that time I had lost my love for reading.

“No, honey. I can´t go to the movies / have friends over for dinner. I have 2 arcs that need to be read & reviewed by Tuesday.”

That put a damper on my social life quicker than I thought it would. Reading was a passion turned into a chore. I let it happen. For the sake of the blog and it´s reputation ( which was at that point extraordinary )

Now, I read what I want, when I want, how I want. I hardly ever accept arcs now and always ditch the blog for a chance to have a date night with the husbutt. Because I want to keep my passion. I want to be able to get excited before opening a new book or anticipate the next chapter of my current read. Not dread it.

What I learned: Life is too short to fuss over the ( dare I say ) unimportant stuff,… like shoving arcs in an already stuffed schedule. Keep the passion going. Don´t kill it.

 

3. Reviews Are Opinions. Not An Academic Paper.

I have to laugh at this one because this was a short-lived struggle from my side. When we started our blog back in…. 2010…. we had no clue what we wanted to do or what direction we wanted to take. Should we keep it girly? Informative? How about the layout? Should we do simple or go all bling bling? Well, we winged it for a year then we decided to go pro. With that decision our reviews also changed. All of the sudden, my usually super laid back and loud mouthed friends were throwing huge words in their reviews. Sentences were crazy perfectly constructed. Guess what we all ended up doing? Super clean, polished reviews every author loved. Even I, the one who normally struggles the most with words, found it in me to publish a shining review.

Not even my own academic paper was as well written as my reviews were ( and that´s a tad worrying ). It took me all but 3 review rereads to realize that I was full of shit.

My friends were full of shit, too. I have a bachelor degree in chemistry. Not literature. What the hell was I doing with my reviews? Things needed to change. I went back to my usual review format. A full-blown emotional rant without big words.

I mean, sure. Authors loved our reviews. But what good is a review when it´s too professional? Shouldn´t a review just help an indecisive reader instead of confusing him / her?

What I learned: Reviews are only personal opinions that should state what or what not was liked about X book.

 

4. Stay Away From The Reading Mob

Bah. A point I easily slip back in to because the temptation is far too great- Interacting with the book mob. ( NOTE: there is no such thing as an actual group of readers who refer to themselves as the book mob. I lovingly nicknamed passionate nutcases that because calling certain readers nutcases isn´t nice )

When you´re a reader and you release your opinion to the public there´s always (!!!) someone who feels offended and immediately drums up more people who could also be offended and then you have a mob wanting to jump your throat. Wonderful.

 

 

As I´ve said- I´m not a people pleaser. I can take whatever people dish at me because I´m also one of those people who don´t give a shit ( tough cookie here. ) But back in the day when my blog was 1-3 years old I did care, for the sake of the blog. And it pained me not to defend myself OR my blog. Because people talk. Word spreads fast, especially anything negative. I didn´t want any negative light shining on what I´ve worked hard for.

I can´t recall the exact moment when the switch in my head flipped but I do remember thinking: Whatever I do won´t make a difference. If I say nothing then the mob will still attack me for my 4 star review ( Yes. Because the book they loved deserved nothing but 5 stars ). And if I do say something then they´ll still try to have a go at me. My final thought on the matter: Screw it.

So I attacked back. I had nothing to lose anyways. The real me came out and it felt glorious not to hold back and attack the book mob.

“You are entitled to have your own opinion on my review. Right now, I´m in no position to respond to your comment because I do feel that my time is wasted replying to people who can´t see the difference between their, they´re and there. I will gladly discuss my review with you once your issue has been worked on.”

I provoke, yes. But only when someone says crap like ” You´re a disgrace to mankind.” Who knew a 4 star review could evoke such strong feelings from a reader?! So, I have my fun. I know I shouldn´t, though. It´s never clever to stoop to their level. I, now, sometimes ignore death threats or hurtful comments. They´re not always worth responding to.
What I´ve learned: Despite the fun one can have with the book mob, it´s more wise to just ignore negative remarks and continue doing whatever you´ve been doing. They´re not worth it.

 

5. Finding Your Voice

Danielle has mentioned this point in her own post and I thought it was a very good point to address.

To find one´s voice isn´t easy. No, wait. It is easy but hard to hold on to. As my fellow blogger has mentioned: You read other blogs and get inspired. And… these blogs also influence you in a way and then POOF… you´ve lost track of your own mark. The slip is easy and before you know it you adapt a strange mixture of style that´s not entirely yours or anyone´s. And then you sit there, thinking about what horrible post you´ve written because it doesn´t match with the stuff you´ve already posted. The stuff that HAS your voice.

What I´ve learned: It´s okay to stray a little. It´s okay to try out new styles and add new features to your posts. If you read a rant-ish post on selfish authors and you can connect with that post then you´re bound to transport that same subtle emotional aggression to your own post. The only difference is- your words aren´t and never will be the same as the words from the person who inspired you ( unless you do a 1:1 copy. Then I can´t help you with that one. Lol )

This is a problem I had when co – blogging. I didn´t have a voice. It wasn´t possible. 3 ladies running 1 blog. That´s 3 individual voices running a brand. So, the brand had a voice. We didn´t. It wasn´t until I left my baby when I discovered how loud my own voice actually was. Whatever I posted wasn´t just the Divas Book Blog ( The old blog ) saying it- It was ME with my new blog.

What I learned: It´s okay. Whatever you do is, and always will be, okay. Unless someone points out to you that you´ve changed for the worse. Then it´s not okay anymore. Lol.

 

The Point Of All This

It´s okay to make mistakes. In fact- It´s mandatory to fall once in a while. What good could ever come out of being perfect and doing everything right from the get – go?

And although I´m older and have been blogging for what feels like 100 years  I´m still in the process of learning new things. I still make mistakes.

The only positive aspect of having so many book blogging years under my belt is- I can now truly pinpoint what it is I want to do with my blog.

In the 8 years I´ve organized and ran virtual book blog tours, I´ve visited many book signing events, acted as a PA for authors, ran social media fan groups / street teams, dabbled into editing, reviewed books for an online magazine, designed book covers, won awards,… I´ve done review videos and even took part in a book review podcast. I´ve been sued and blackmailed once.

And in the process I´ve met and befriended many wonderful people and made lots of emenies.

 

 

Trust me when I say: Been there. Done that. Bought the shirt. I´m done with being professional. I´m tired. lol.

I´m at a point in my life where I just don´t care about many things in the book blog universe anymore. I can easily say that I´m good with being a small blog that offers reviews and a little bit of random stuff on the side. I more than happy to maintain friendships with fellow bloggers rather than just adding them. Because THAT is what I care about. It´s what I actually love to do. I love to have a hobby that brings me ( and hopefully others) joy.

 

Phew! What a night. I´m totally exhausted from my little walk down memory lane. How about you? I can´t imagine you´ve been wide awake while reading through my major book blogging mistakes and what I´ve learned from them.

 

I will now leave you all with once nice piece of advice ( because I really can´t give you anything else. Books are making me poor, folks ). Don´t ever take any advice from me. 🙂 And, by God, do NOT think that my mistakes will be yours, too. I guarantee you that you will have your own battles to fight and you will find your own ways to success ( should that be what you´re looking for ).

Should you still have questions or would like to add your 2 cents to my 5 Things I´ve Learned Since I Started Blogging then feel free to comment below! Feel free to share your own experiences ( even if you´ve been blogging for only 6 months! ). I´m happy to share struggles or just chat! ❤

With that being said- I bid you all a wonderful day.

Share the book love, people!

Many hugs,

Morgana ❤