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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Book Covers- What Happened?

Book Covers

Book covers / cover images are the first thing we see when we look for books. Whether it´s while we´re scrolling through an online shop or simply combing the bookshelves in a bookstore- It´s always the cover that grabs our attention before anything else does. 

Let´s get one thing out of the way before I begin:

Book covers / images are a matter of taste. Everyone has a different idea on what is great or what´s eye catching.

Personally, I like book covers that hardly give away anything from the story. I believe a cover image should grab someones attention, not give the story away. A book cover has to make me stop dead in my tracks. I mean- it’s the first thing a reader sees, right? And if a reader doesn’t like the cover, how fat are chances the reader will buy the book unless they´ve been forced by a friend/family member to read the book? ( The power of recommendations. “It has a hideous cover but awesome story!” )

All this means- I judge a book by it´s cover. I know I shouldn´t. No one should, yet we all do it.

I love to see covers with lots of color / color clashes, unique symbols or anything that stands out ( eye catching, remember? ) Contrasts are also brilliant.

 I’m Amazon’s Costumer Of The Year. Alot of my hard earned money goes for books. I’m sure I’m not the only one with this devastating condition. But if you asked me about book covers then I’d have to say that maybe half of the books I own have decent covers and half from that half have AWESOME images.In other words- I find alot of book covers / images boring and sometimes questionable. 

While reading books from the Romance, New Adult, Young Adult, Erotica and even Horror genre, I’ve come to learn that each genre has their preferred book covers or colors.

Young Adult usually has some teenagers holding hands in a meadow ( colors are usually light ), New Adult covers are a bit more mature ( colors are more bold ), mostly showing some skin or a headless figure… you get the picture, right? We don´t really need to mention Horror covers because many of those covers are just down right brilliant. Creepy but cool.

Also, one has to see the difference between traditional published and self-published book covers. It most cases, self-published book covers / images aren´t done well. But then again- alot of traditional published books have horrible, tacky covers. I can’t really speak for trad-published authors because most of them don’t have a say in the matter. The publisher calls the shots and authors have no power over what cover will be used for their story. That all depends on the publisher and how tight the contract is. Some published authors are lucky and get to chose a cover image themselves. Very few have covers that are able to knock me out of my socks.

There are 2 types of book covers that do not grab my attention at all.  

  1. shaded, oiled torsos with tribal tattoos
  2. covers that look like every other cover

I can’t begin to tell you how many books I have that have black covers with some tiny animal, a key, a keyhole, pearls, diamonds or has some shadowed body parts on it. It’s a nightmare that will not end. 

It´s a trend, I get it. Still… It´s annoying. And when I see certain covers I immediately say to myself ” Uugh. Not again.”.

20161128_010727

( Those are only a few taken from my private bookshelf from only God knows how many )

Many would argue with me on the fact that black book covers aren´t an issue. They´re practical because they look good on a bookshelf, etc.  It truly isn´t an issue. It´s just nothing spectacular.

Then there are those covers with half naked, totally muscular, tribal tattooed, well oiled and well tanned, headless guys. In short- eye candy in it’s tackiest form. I stopped counting those covers because they’re endless. I know I know…sex sells and all that stuff…..but can’t someone stop this nonsense? Tribal tattoos went out of style a while back. Plus, I like guys who have a head. Hands can be sexy, too. Also-  I’m also not a huge fan of character covers, which is when the cover has a face on it. That ruins alot for me and I will ignore the book, risking the chance to read a fantabulous story. Why? Because a character image ruins my own personal image I like to create myself of a character. 

Another thing that brings my blood to boil is when there’s too much going on on a book cover. 

I once saw a cover that was in full color and had an oiled naked, tattooed bod, except- the lucky headless guy had arms and hands ( yay!) and those hands were holding a suit which hung from a coathanger ( I have never in my life seen a suit hanging from a hanger on a book cover before…NEVER) in the background stood the Eiffel Tower. The title- Caged. Can you imagine how confused I was? After taking all the images in I knew what the story was about. But the real question was- Was I interested in the story although I knew there was some godly guy in it, who was probably going to wear a suit at some point, paying the Eiffel Tower a visit? No, I wasn´t. Not even the coathanger was able to convice me.

My point- There´s no need to overload a book cover with dozens of images. That´s only confusing. 

Copying. It´s not a secret that many self-published authors like to copy. Which is fine. I´m the last person to point a finger at anyone in particular. Whatever works best for an author, right? Right. No wait- that´s wrong. Copying is wrong and often doesn´t work out well for an author who wants to make money. What worked for author A doesn´t necessarily have to work for author B. Many writers seem to forget that. 

What happened to self-published authors wanting to be original, standing out and making their book cover better than others? Any, if not all, want to make a living ( eventually ) off of writing, right?

I understand that cover designers are costy. And, yes. I´m aware of how prices are sky high. But they´re worth it. If an author finds a good, professional designer, and both communicate then nothing can go wrong. No one in the history of writing said it would be easy, or cheap. Unless writers don´t value quality and focus their attention more on their story. Then I´d say ” Whatever floats their boat.”.

Still, many don´t or are financially unable to take that path and invest in a cover designer. And if an author doesn´t have a clue what they´re doing when creating their own cover I´m 100% positive it will affect sales. Because, let´s face it- If I notice bad quality / a copied image then other readers will too.  There could be a chance people will ignore a not so great cover and read the story OR they´ll skip the book because of the cover. Who knows. I´m not an expert. But I´ve been watching this business for the last 10 years and can say that covers mean alot. 

I´m not out to ruin self-published authors. I´m not even out to diss traditional publishing houses for their often lack of taste in cover images. Just remember this before the next book hits the market:

1. Sex doesn´t always sell. ( Keep them well oiled studs in the late 90´s where they belong.)

2. Less is ALWAYS more. ( Be tasteful. Be creative. Be original. )

It may not be up to me to decide what cover image is acceptable for a book cover or not. After all- Cover images are a matter of taste.  But since I spend the majority of my money on books I can skip a cover that´s not original or won´t grab my attention.

My wish for the future? For writers to be more creative when deciding on a cover image. Or, invest in a designer. Although, I have seen a small inprovement in the past year ( see Colleen Hoover´s cover image for `Too Late`, for example. What a color explosion! ) so my hopes haven´t died completely.

( NOTE: A cover image alone won´t influence sales. Titles and excerpts play an important role as well. The cover is just what we see first.)