Monday, June 22, 2009

Question About Giveaways

Can I ask you something? Do you like the giveaways or do they overwhelm the site? I was scrolling through my reader yesterday and came across a post that basically said that people who giveaway books on their site, like myself, are sellouts. When I defended my position, saying that I didn't see the harm in passing on books that I didn't have time to review, I received this comment.. SQT - Write the blog you want to write. I just think that distributing free copies has more to do with boosting hit-rates and sucking on the publisher's tit than it does community service. I admit, I think the person who wrote that is..well..a jerk. I found most of his comments to be hypercritical and self-serving. There seemed to be that attitude of looking down ones nose and trying to elevate his own methods over mine while giving himself credibility as a reviewer while diminishing me. I try not to be too sensitive to comments like this. My motives in giving away books are sincere, that guy's opinion notwithstanding. I don't have time to read everything I get and not everything that comes through my door appeals to me. So why not pass them on to people who will appreciate them? The guy who made the comments said that I should donate the books to a charity shop rather than clutter up my blog with giveaways. I don't understand that logic. What's your opinion on the matter?


furiousBall said...

I think that's a lame statement honestly. Giving away stuff = selling out? Sales aren't even involved. I mean sure if the giveaways bring in more traffic, you would make more money from advertisers... but how much money are we talking about here?

I have a blog that has been in existence for over 7 years and I just don't give a crap about making money off of the thing, because well frankly, I pretty much hate every blog that does make money.

I like you as a person, I read your book reviews, enter the contests, and whenever there's a blog posting outside the sci-fi world, I like that too.

The sell-outs that annoy me the most are people that spend their energies writing half ass blogs, but put more energy (their whole ass?) into posting tweets about their CRAZY blog post about how they just did something so freakin' nutzo (to borrow a word from the Fonz).

Do what you like amiga, I'm not gonna stop reading either way. :)

Paul Carroll said...

I agree. It's a bit rude to give out because people do things differently! Besides, people love giveaways, but don't live exclusively for them. Keep it up! =]

Neth said...

hmm...the discussion over at Larry's blog is somewhat intersting, but really seems to be the latest version of the existential quest of SFF bloggers. But I digress.

No, you are not a sellout for doing giveaways. Particularly with the motivations you site. The content you choose for your blog is your own - the internet is an ultimate equalizer, and people who like what you do will read your blog and those that don't, wont'.

With RSS feeds, I don't think your blog is too cluttered with giveaways, but I do like the idea of a single post once a week to contain them all.

And yes, McCalmont can be difficult at times and seems to have very little in common with most of us fans who do this because we love it.

It's a big balance for us bloggers to figure out how much of a promotional tool we are willing to be. Whatever your motivations, giveaways are a huge promotional tool for publishers (even if yours are unofficial). And the honest truth is that they are good for traffic - but then what's wrong with traffic. Anyway, it's all a balance and you've figured out what works for you, so I say just keep on doing it.

Gabrielle Faust said...

That's absolutely ridiculous! Hosting giveaways doesn't make you a sell out. It's just a fun and entertaining way to spread the word about your blog. Just ignore comments like that.

SQT said...


I always appreciate that you stop by. I know you're not specifically a sci-fi fanatic, so I like that I can occasionally reach outside that group. I try not to sell out. I really haven't generated a ton of traffic, believe it or not, by doing giveaways, so I make very little. If I can cover shipping on giveaways, I'm happy.


Thanks. I didn't really understand the disdain myself.


It is tough sometimes to keep the giveaways from being too much. I do think a weekly post would help a lot.

You would be surprised though. I haven't gotten a big up-tic in traffic. I've been around for 3 years so I already had a decent readership built up. Nothing spectacular, but okay. The giveaways didn't really add much.


That's how I see it. I really don't know why it's considered a bad thing to feature new books.

Neth said...

interesting, the few giveaways that I've done always result in a temporary increase in hits, but then it's not sustained. I just assumed that with regular giveaways there would be a sustained increase. But, I do imagine that you get more links out of it, which does increase rankings and such.

ediFanoB said...

I read the post and all related comments. I also left a comment.

I like your giveaways! A great opportunity to get to know books.

By the way nobody mentioned that you do all your giveaways on a separate blog.

This was my comment at When do you ever stop whoring yourself out?

I read your post and all the comments with interest because I'm a reader. That means I'm one of many for whom you write or not.

I think first of all it is YOUR blog. You are responsible for the content and of course you are responsible for your own expectations and ambitions.

Of course you can carp at other blogs BUT in the end it is YOUR decision whether you read an other blog or not.

To be honest I like that there is a large choice of different blogs and different kinds of reviews.

So I can choose which one I want to read and follow.

In the end every blogger must answer your question for himself/herself.

And I'm convinced that finally every blog gets the readers which the blog deserves.

pussreboots said...

The commenter is a troll. Nothing more. Nothing less. Do your blog your way. If you enjoy doing the giveaways, continue to do them.

SQT said...


I don't know about rankings. Does that mean the number of subscribers to your blog? I really don't track much of anything other than general blog traffic.

I find that I get more traffic if I post about a hot topic or something silly. I got more traffic for my "Vampirism is So Overrated" post than I ever get on giveaways. Which just goes to show, I should write more satire.


I think you're right. The people who frequent certain blogs do so because it appeals to them. I get the traffic I deserve-- and there's nothing wrong with that.


Yeah, I shouldn't give it more attention than it deserves.

Neth said...

-I was talking about google rankings, technorati and other stuff like that. I don't follow it much either, so I can't speak to much detail about them.

And yes, you should absolutely do more satire. I enjoyed that post a lot (have you seen that video where Buffy slays the vamp from Twilight?).

SQT said...


Scroll a few posts down. I have it up.

Neth said...

heck - I may have watched on your blog this morning when I was going through the RSS fees. Funny

Sullivan McPig said...

Sounds like someone is a bit jeaulous at your succes.
I follow your blog because you write good reviews. I have picked up books that would have escaped my attention if you hand't mentioned something about them.
That you also have give aways is something that I appreciate and I don't think of you being a sell out because of it.

SciFiGuy said...

LOL I saw the post at Larry's as well and thought "what a pompous a**". I do my blog for fun and my love of reading. Giveaways are a way to share that love of reading with people that visit my blog that are readers also. What part of that is any kind of sellout? I write about urban fantasy but I don't give away cookbooks. If I did that or movie tickets or other unrelated genre giveaways than yes maybe it would be a sellout. Otherwise the more the merrier.

Jeff C said...

I like the idea of a big weekly giveaway post.

However, that being said (and i mean this as a general question, not at you specifically SQT): What is wrong with wanting your traffic to be higher anyway? I know I like having people stop by the blog so i know I'm not just talking to myself. I think it might be time for another rant on my blog, actually.

SQT said...


Lol. I do that too.


Thanks, I appreciate that.


You know, the same thought crossed my mind. But it wouldn't do any good to call him on it. He'd just go off on some other tangent so he could grace us with his opinions.

SciFiGuy said...

Sorry one last point. Depending on how you setup your contest they can really engage your readership. For my giveaway of Naamah's Kiss by Jacqueline Carey I asked entrants to comment about their favorite romantic kiss in film or book and if they didn't have one of those to tell a personal story. Some people wrote PARAGRAPHS. That's not selling out - that's connecting with your community. Check out the fabulous comments on the Kissing Contest post.

SQT said...


That is an excellent question. I can think of no reason to find fault with someone who wants to generate more traffic. I don't write this blog so I can sit out here unloved. I do kind of hope someone will read it.

SQT said...


Part of the reason I linked to that contest was because of the unique way you presented it. Also, Jacqueline Carey is an author I think more people should get to know, so I'm going to take the opportunity to introduce her books, given the chance.

I Heart Book Gossip said...

I think people who give books away are very generous. Books cost money and some of us aren't so lucky to get the first copy of a certain book we like at the library. There is nothing wrong with sharing something you love. Trust me whoever left that comment has entered a contest or two in their lives.

SQT said...

I Heart Book Gossip

Honestly, you're the audience I was hoping to get. I know I'm lucky to get the books. I can't afford to go out and buy everything I'd like to read--especially in hardback. I know I appreciate it when I get something I've been looking forward to-- so why not pass on the good fortune?

Gene Stewart said...

Giving away free books will only boost interest in the work, and that's what it's all about. Kindness knows its own rewards; pay no attention to those who think and speak negatively, they're being fearful on some hidden level.

Michelle G said...

As a reader - I love giveaways. I have found so many new authors since joining and creating my own book blog.

I look forward to checking out the new posts everyday and if someone is giving away a book that appeals to me - I enter the contest.

Without book blogs I might miss out on a great new author or a new book from an established author that I don't know anything about. :)

I say ignore the man and his silly comments and continue to run your blog the way you want to run your blog. :)

Best to you.


thespectacleblog said...

People who read this blog are bound to like the kind of books you review, so why not give them those books? Seems simple to me!

This is the first time I've come across the sentiment that giveaways are lame or a mark of selling out.

I do a giveaway once a month on my blog, and it's not even books I've gotten for free--it's books my fellow bloggers and I buy, plus one of our own books.

Parker P

ladyhawk2711 said...

I think what you do is great and gives the opportunity for everyone loving SF and Fantasy to reach authors that they do not yet know.Do keep up with your ways, it is great to share and do not take two minute cluttering your mind with such mean comments...I have never read anything from you that involved selling...People love your contest and giveaways as far as I can see...they matters and I agree with Furious ball here, you are great as a person too and this is priceless.

Cindy said...

I am actually chasing giveaways lol
I buy for about 100-150$ of books per months, and its still not enough to feed my reading frenzy so I check out many blogs for reviews and new author to read and if there's a chance to get free it's even better! My local librairy really fails on urban fantasy supplies =(

SQT said...


It is odd that someone would find fault with me for giving stuff away. What's that about?


I have discovered a lot of authors through giveaways. Robert at Fantasy Book Critic sent me the first Joe Abercrombie book -- and it's been love ever since.


I come across the giveaways-are-nothing-but-blog-pimping posts every now and then. There's a school of thought that says it's shamelessly self-promoting. We're not allowed to claim that we just like to share. We have to have an ulterior motive according to those who don't like us.


Thank you very much. Comments like yours make it much easier to ignore comments from nasty people.


Isn't that the truth. I've been wanting to read "Lamentation" ever since it came out, though it will be released in paperback in September. I don't know if it'll ever show up at my library.

Fantasy Dreamer (Donna) said...

I read the post by Larry and felt very discouraged by it. I just started blogging a several months ago, and I have done a few contests but it was only share books that I truly enjoyed. He made me feel like I did something unholy but then I keep thinking in the back of mind that he really sounds like a jerk, a real party pooper.

I'm glad you posted this and I'm happy to see that most are in the same agreement here.

The contests do spike interests, I think it is a win-win-win-win situation for everyone: Author to the Blogger to the Winner to the Readers that now knows about the author's book(s).

Wendy said...

That person is a huge jerk. Giveaways is not selling out or whatever, it's sharing good books.

Anna said...

I say it's your blog, do what you want. Don't let anyone dictate how you run it. :))

Wilson said...

I'm a regular follower of your blog not because of your giveaways but because I love reading about sci-fi and fantasy ^_^ The giveaways are a bonus :)

Also, if there's one thing i absolutely love about your giveaways is that most of the competitions are available worldwide. That is the real bonus for me. When all other websites host great competitions with awesome prizes that can only be won by a US citizen, your open worldwide giveaways are the best things ever :)

SQT said...


Larry does posts like that from time to time. He and I really don't see eye to eye on anything. It's not that we don't get along, it's just that our tastes don't overlap at all. He posts a lot of very intellectual content. He reviews books in foreign languages and I'm pretty sure he wouldn't be caught dead with anything resembling popular paranormal fiction. Me? I like everything and I think everything has merit--even if it's lowbrow.


I think so too.


I don't think I'm trying to let anyone dictate the way I run my blog. I'm just trying to see if their opinion is widespread. I think we'd all like to think our blogs are not viewed as a joke.

SQT said...


I've had a couple people tell me that. That's the main reason I put advertising on the blog-- to cover international shipping. I like that I can offer books everywhere. I just shipped my first shipment to Saudi Arabia last week- that was kind of cool. I've shipped to Finland, Bulgaria, Australia-- among others. As long as I can keep the blog self-sustaining, I'll keep doing it.

Liana Brooks said...

I love free books.

I'll be honest, I can't afford to buy every book I want to read. If someone wants to give me one for free I'll be happy to take it. I'll be happy to review it if that's the deal. I'll be happy to tell all my friends to go buy it (if it was good and they'd like it).

You aren't a sellout. The giveaways and reviews are, essentially, your job. Or at least an aspect of your overall platform as a reviewer.

From the author's perspective, they want you to have a high hit count. It means that when you advertise a novel or review a story the author reaches a wider audience.

Reviewing the books and offering the occasional free one is the service you provide society. It's no different than the person who bags the groceries or scans library books. It's just part of our culture.

Don't let a sour grape ruin your day. There will always be bitter people in the world. You can't change them, but you can ignore them.

Anna said...

I might have worded my comment wrong. I didn't mean to say you were letting any one dictate you.

Personally I think you have wonderful contests. I don't think it's selling out at all.

Wilson makes a good point. I don't read your blog cause of your contests either. I read it cause I'm a fan of the genre and its a fun, interesting blog.

S.M.D. said...

I'm way late in getting to this, so I won't read all the comments and just offer my opinion.

First, I don't think you should stop the giveaways, but I do feel like giveaways overwhelm the other content. That might be me, though.

I see the argument about how giveaways act as traffic grabbers. A lot of people do subscribe and return to blogs that regularly run contests, so it seems like a logical argument. Still, this is your blog, so do what you want, but certainly try to increase the non-giveaway activity.

But this comment is probably completely pointless...

SQT said...


He only peeved me for a second. I can't please everyone so I won't bother trying. For me, the contests are my way of passing on some good fortune. It someone wants to read something cynical into it, that's because they'd do it for cynical reasons.


No worries. I was mostly just saying that my intention wasn't to change to please someone else. I'm more interested in taking the pulse of the blog and see what kind of response I get.


It's not pointless. I think consolidating some of the giveaways would be a good thing. Also, I never wanted to be a review/giveaway-only blog, the books have just taken over.

Christina said...

Everyone loves free books! I initially discovered your site from SciFiGuy linking a contest on your site and I was a lucky winner (thank you very much). However, the contests are not the reason I subscribe to your blog and follow daily. I have to admit I have only been following for a couple of months, but during that time I have discoverd many authors that I would have overlooked. For example,I had never heard of Jacqueline Carey until SciFiGuy reviewed her current release Santa Olivia so I decided to try out Kushiel's Dart to see if I might be interested. Needless to say I am hooked and this is my favorite series of books so far (and I read alot of books).

Thanks to you and your fellow bloggers who have shown me a whole new world out there. I think you should do what you want to do, I know I will keep following!

Adam Whitehead said...

I'm actually surprised anyone pays any attention to a blogger so concerned with the 'ethics' of blogging that they read half of one book in a four-book series, make grand and factually inaccurate statements about it and the author, get very cross when their errors are pointed out and announce they are retiring from blogging, and then turn up again a few months again to scold a well-known British SF critic for reviewing a book he once proofread (except he didn't, because it had already been published elsewhere, but that's a whole other point). It's hard to take anyone who behaves in that manner as a serious critic.

And no, I'm not talking about Larry here ;-) Larry's post raised some interesting points in a well-thought-out manner (as he usually does, even when I disagree with him), but some of the commentators...not so much.

Asara Dragoness said...

SQT, m'dear..

Nobody can be everything to everyone. You do what you can with what you have, and that's all any reasonable person could expect. I personally think it's great that you're willing, not only to part with such precious things as books (Not I, said the cat), but to make sure that the ones you give away are accessible to everyone as much as you can.

You keep doin' what you're doin', and don't let the haters get you down!

SQT said...


I'm pretty sure I know who you're talking about ;P

I really jumped into this unaware of the reaction I would get. I really just thought I'd throw the whole I-do-giveaways-for-this-reason thing and that would be it. The conversation about "ethics" seems self-serving to the one involved doesn't it? Especially since he gets to determine for himself which ethics to abide by and which to ignore.


Trust me, I lost no sleep over this. Who am I to complain? You should see all the traffic this has brought me. :D Not what whatshisname intended right? Because he's way to ethical to seek traffic.

Charles Gramlich said...

I guess I'll never understand why someone would visit someone else's blog and tell them how to run it. What is this need some folks have to try and control others? Hell, there's a million blogs. A billion. Plenty of others to visit.

SQT said...


I have to be fair and say that no one told me to change my blog, they just told me why they didn't like what I do-- and not in a nice way. The thing is, I just offered an explanation and now they're saying I wanted "absolution" for what I choose to do. In other words, they're making way too much out of this.

Daelith said...

If it weren't for give-aways, I would not have discovered your blog. Granted, I don't stop by every day, I do try to check it once a week or more if time allows. I've discovered a number of other blogs this way as well. I appreciate you and the others who do the give-aways. I'm always on the look out for new authors to try.

MarnieColette said...

First off.... its your site/blog you can do what you want.

Giveaways are great and fun. I like the free gifts. BUT free gifts don't keep me coming to the site - I only click through sites/blogs through my reader when its stuff I am interested.

Don't change the way you do things because one over opinionated individual.

Karen said...

I like what you're doing SQT, don't let that person discourage you. Keep up the good work on the blog!