Monday, August 22, 2011

Publishing is a Business

Happy Monday, everyone! It's a lovely day here in London and my insomnia has somewhat subsided. And Willow got a lovely book blogger review over the weekend, so I'm thrilled with that. All in all, the week is off to a flying start.

An interesting debate has cropped up over on Clarissa Draper's fantastic blog recently. Clarissa asked if she should do a giveaway offering an Amazon gift-card, or if she should use that money to buy and review fellow authors' books. Most commenters thought she should buy and review, but there were a few interested threads I want to pull out.

One of them was that if you want to review a book, the author should send it for free. This is true for ARCs (which, by the way, completely depend on the publisher, not to mention limitations on how many you can distribute). If I ask someone to review my novel, I'd never expect them to buy it, and neither I nor my publisher have any issues sending out free ARCs.

But once the book is available and unsolicited review requests come in, should an author be responsible for sending out free copies of said book for review? Where should an author draw the line?

If I look at my own situation, I receive ten free copies of the final version of my paperback book. (I can usually get more if I request them, for special purposes.) These ten copies go quickly when spread amongst family members and close friends. If I was to send out a paperback for review, I'd need to: a) pay for the book myself; and b) pay for postage. My book costs £7.99 and I receive just under a pound for each in royalties, so that would leave me at a loss. I don't make enough to support my wine habit as it is! :)

I can't see my publisher too keen to send my book out to anyone (I'm talking apart from book bloggers and media) who promises a review, either. Publishing is a business. The goal is to sell books, not give them away. If I didn't sell, both myself and the publisher would go bankrupt.

Another point made in the comments section on Clarissa's blog was that if people help you promote your book in the blogosphere, you should be prepared to do quite sizeable giveaways. Whoa. Giveaways are great if you have the resources to pay for lots of postage, gift certificates, etc. Most of us are writers -- poor by definition. But that's not my main qualm. I don't help people by buying their book and doing reviews because I want something in return, nor do I expect something. For my blogsplash last year, I deliberately avoided offering prizes in return for help. To me (and this is just me), it smacked a little of desperation. I didn't want to have to trade something in return for people's assistance, you know? I wanted people to help because they wanted to help me. And if they didn't (or couldn't) fair enough.

I do my best to help and support other authors because I understand that publishing is a business, and our success and livelihood ultimately boils down to -- whether we like it or not -- sales.

What do you think?

(EDIT 1: I want to make it clear that I do think ARCs should be free, and I'm in no way opposed to giveaways -- quite the contrary! :) What has got me slightly ranty is the expectation, I guess, of something free in exchange.)

(EDIT 2: I'm not talking about book bloggers or media who review books.)


  1. Interesting post. Publishing is indeed a business, no doubt about it. But for reviews, I can't see a reviewer paying for a book to review. There is always some monetary cost involved with getting a book out to world, and that goes for reviews.
    Now, sure, in the mindset of not sending your book for free to strangesr, I can agree. But I would highly suggest making sure that whoever you want to review your book is (1) looking for new books and (2) is in your genre.

    When I look for reviewers, I look for those who take ebook files. I cannot justify sending a paperback for someone to review when there are dozens of reviewers who accept ebooks.

    As far as giveaways go... they are hit or miss. You'll get people to sign up because people like free stuff. But will it lead into book sales? I can't say yes or no... I've done giveaways in the past that have flopped big time.

    The best advertising for your book is to write the next book and get it out there for the world to see.

    -Jim Bronyaur

  2. Thanks, Jim! I should clarify that when I say reviewer, I don't mean established reviewers or even bloggers with lots of followers, etc.

    You make a good point about ebooks - they are much easier to send out to people due to lack of postage. That's a great help indeed.

  3. I should also emphasise that I'm not talking about ARCs, but once the book has been out for a while...

  4. I agree with you, Talli.
    It is a business and a tough one at that.
    I would also feel if I gave books away for free, the reader may feel an obligation to 'love' my book.
    I am doing a screenwriting course at the moment and the underlying principle seems to be - is your project commercially viable? A harsh but necessary truth, I feel.

  5. I imagine screen writing is an even harder business than publishing! Thanks, Brigid.

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  7. Abso-freakin-lutely! I mean, "Cheers" to those who can do the giveaways, but we need to have that kind of business savvy too! It's great to see our names on the Blogs we admire, but better to earn it with good stories well-told than to buy it.
    Now here's your daily dose of tasty irony: I stopped by to tell you that I'll be reviewing "The Hating Game" on Friday. I hope that I didn't just make Pino Noir come out your nose.

  8. Hear, hear Talli. I agree with you. I certainly do not expect authors to give out their books willy nilly and am always very grateful to receive books for review gratis, when they are new. This has made no difference to my buying habits but has increased the number of different authors I read! Ebooks have made a considerable difference and a high proportion of the books I am sent for review are in this format, no surprise there.
    To use your own words at the end of the post, I also do my best to help and support authors because I understand that publishing is a business, and that your success and livelihood ultimately depends on sales.

  9. I think a writer can do both. Giveaway and still buy and reviews books. It's a personal decision.

  10. Ha, Will! LOL! Thank you so much - I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts. :) And I'm not saying I have anything against giveaways. I like them as much as the next blogger. But I do sort of resent the implication that we owe it to the blogosphere in return for something.

  11. Laura, exactly. It is a personal decisions. I've done both when I can, and enjoyed both!

  12. Lindy Lou, very well said... and yay for e-books! :)

  13. I, like you, give away free ebooks to reviewers that I have requested read the book, or once I did a large giveaway on LibraryThing to try to encourage reviewing.

    Other authors might review books, but I don't ask other authors to review my books because I don't want to ever do something that smacks of 'review exchanging.' Because what if they love my book and post a 5* review, but when I go to read their book, I hate it? I've seen authors get totally burned by this. Because #1 it can look like they've basically requested a 'soft' review, which puts off real reviewers and book bloggers, and #2 I've seen people post either unnaturally high or unnaturally low star ratings due completely to the number of stars they got from another author. Terrible position to be in.

    So, as an author, I only review books I love. If another author asks me to review a book, I say they can send me a copy, but I only do 'book recommendations', not 'book reviews.'

    In the situation you're talking about, Talli, about a reviewer wanting to review a book that's been out a while, my policy is that for review requests, I go check out their twitter feed/blog/goodreads profile. If they're legit and appear to be influencial, heck yeah, they can have a digital copy. If they have 20 followers and only write one review a month, but their blog is mostly about how much they love to reenact scenes from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, um, not so much.

  14. Very interesting post.

    Well, you know that *I* know that publishing is most definitely a business, but I think that's why this issue isn't completely black and white. I self-publish so my "royalties" (profits, really) are higher per book, but then I have to completely pay for any review/ARC copies myself.

    I do give a small number of people (3-10) physical review copies, and with my next couple of releases I'll probably give away another 5-10 vouchers for e-books as well. But I don't see this as losing money. If even half of those people review my book on their website/blog, the reward for me is worth it. I can use their review in promotional material, on my Amazon listing, I can blog about it myself, etc. and it all creates another Google search research should someone go looking for my book. Not to mention the fact that of course, their readers might go on to buy and read the book. It's definitely worth it for me to give away at least a few review copies.

    Giveaways are another kettle of fish. I've done giveaways in the past and they've worked really well in terms of spreading the word about my book, but the real reason I did them was to "reward" my blog readers, Twitter followers, etc. for helping me promote my book without me asking them (retweets, reviews, etc.) But of course most people who enter giveaways have never even laid eyes on your blog before, may have never read your book and just pop over because they see on Twitter or someone that you're giving something away, and of course you've no control over who wins whatever you're giving away.

    Before this comment turns into a right essay (!), I would say this: I think giving away a small number of review copies is an essential part of the book promotion process, but you have to choose carefully who gets those books. There has to be a chance they'll actually read it and that if they do, they'll review it. You can't demand this, so you have to go by intuition. The books will cost you, yes, but they'll pay for themselves in sales.

  15. India, great points about review swaps - they can backfire!

    Catherine, I totally agree review copies when the book is first launching should be free. They're invaluable to get people reading it and kick-starting the book. I'm not opposed to giveaways either -- I've seen them work very well to ramp up publicity.

    I guess what I'm slightly ranty over is the expectation that because someone has written a book, they should provide it for free in exchange for promotion and review, or that they 'owe' the person something in return, like a giveaway.

    I'm not opposed to giveaways or free review copies.

  16. Really interesting stuff, Talli. It's definitely a part of the writing world that you don't really think about until you're faced with it.

  17. I didn't have review copies to send - my pubisher handled review copies. I did forward review requests to them, and they sent out a lot of books to book bloggers, but not to people or sites who weren't in the business of reviewing books. Most of the final copies I received were spoken for, but since the first book actually did well, I intend to get twice as many as the next one and offer more as giveaways.
    And I was happy to help you last year, Talli! I've tried to help all of my author friends by featuring their work and buying their books. That's what friends are for.

  18. Thanks, Alex! I was happy to help you, too. :)

  19. It's all sort of related, selling books requires people who want to buy them; and the way many people decide to buy a book--if they haven't picked it up in the store and read the back-cover blurbs, is from reviews. It can be word-of-mouth, like "OMG! You just HAVE to read 'Water for Chocolate!'" Or, it can be a professional review. Either way, it's a form of advertising, and even if the review is less than stellar, it's still press--and as they say: no press is bad press. (Although, we all hope to hit it out of the park, so to speak.)

    I agree with you, and I've said it before: publishing is a business, and that means profit. If a book cannot be sold, it won't be published. The fact that a book has made it to the print stage is a sign that many, many people think it "has legs," and that's a good thing. They should all keep in mind that the whole idea is to sell as many copies as possible--that means whipping out a few for review's sake. The publisher can always justify the cost. But with ebooks, it's as simple as an email. That's the direction to go in. The only thing a person loses in an ebook format is the ability to hold the "mighty tome" in their hands and sniff the ink.

    Hmmm...maybe I should work on "scratch-n-sniff" ebooks, just for that very reason. ;)

  20. I must admit that I would love to be given a free book to review, just once in my life :) But realistically, I have a reasonable number of blog followers but a small number of commenters and if I review a book, it may result in three sales. Honestly, I'l achieve more by recommending it to my mates or picking it up for someone as a present.

    That said, I review books on my blog and I enjoy it. But I can see why a publisher wouldn't want to effectively pay me for doing it by giving up their potential profit on a copy of a book.

    Also, I like to know that if I like a writer, I can help them in two ways -
    1. I pay for the book.
    2. I review it and hopefully someone else will pay for the book as a result.

    I'm speaking as someone who has a day job and an ereader though, so I have the money to buy books and a means to buy them cheaply without compromising the royalty that the writer earns. Not everyone is so lucky.

    Many interesting points raised here!

  21. I think we're on the same page then. It's completely up to the writer - self or trad published - about whether or not they should give away books for free. There should never be an expectation. I can only imagine it exists because people think if you are selling a book you're rolling in cash (!!!) and they don't understand how much a book actually costs as you say to give away, post, etc.

  22. Phil, I reckon scratch and sniff ebooks is a market gap. Go for it!

    Ellen, I agree not everyone is so lucky to be able to purchase a copy of book - and that's a real shame. Everyone's situation is different; thank you for the reminder.

    Catherine, that's a great point. Lots of people assume that since I've published books, it automatically means I have money. I wish! I was stunned, way back when, when I realised how little most authors make.

  23. When I say 'lots of people', obviously I don't mean fellow bloggers. :) :)

  24. Totally agree. I never expect an author to send me a free book. I've bought dozens of books by blog buddies. If I enjoy the book, I enjoy helping my buddies spread the word. I don't need or want any compensation for that - well, other than the good feelings it gives :)

  25. Well I'm saving up to buy your book! :-)

    Yay!! I must return to fab Clarissa's blog and read the comments.

    I think ARCs are ARCs so therefore both are mutually beneficial. The reviewer gets a copy, the author gets a review. At this point I really don't think monies ought to change?

    As for the rest - people! Authors need to make money out of their art!!! Go buy the book in whatever format! Ahem. That's my take on that!

    Take care

  26. Jemi, I love the warm fuzzies too!

    And Old Kitty, I completely agree. ARCs are a different story - they should be free!

  27. Whoa! Now a days it seems like everyone wants everything for free. I review books at some review sites and yes, they get those books for free, but they are considered as professional reviewers. Publishers shouldn't be sending books to just anyone, they wouldn't make any money. If someone wants to review the book on their own, then buy the damn thing. It's not like books are that expensive.

    People are just so cheap anymore it's shocking. This weekend, I was chatting with a few fellow authors who had their books pirated. One author calculated that her pirated books had a value of $24000. That's a lot of money she lost out on because people are too cheap to buy a book, and all of her books are cheap as it is, none of them are over $5. People spend more on a cup of coffee!

    People are just so freaking cheap anymore. That is why many of us authors will never be able to do this full time.

  28. Wow, that's sort of crazy all the expectations for giveaways. I suppose if they are doing guest interviews/blog promotion, I can see giving them digital copies of your book, but I can't imagine sending out books to every person who helps you. That isn't what it's supposed to be about.

  29. Angelina, wow! Pirated book are a whole other story for sure -- that's insane. It's really sad when people won't pay even 99p, and download a book for free.

    Christa, I think that's entirely reasonable.

  30. I think once the book is available- if people want to review it they should buy it themselves. If I only had 10 arcs I'd be very selective about who I sent them to and I wouldn't expect my publisher to go sending free books around. It is a business and I wouldn't mind giving freely of my time and energy to try and promote my book. But my own money? If I wanted to go that route I could just self publish,

  31. Good on you, Talli! I was feeling all ranty about that stuff too, but I kept my mouth shut! I've given away 30 print arcs. I had to pay for postage too. Set me back quite a bit. But I only did that because it's my debut and I want to get myself out there. Won't do that again. Wow. People really should start giving a little more than taking. Makes me feel kinda sick.

  32. I was so shocked by the amount of feedback I received on my question. I was just wondering if I should hold more contests on my blog or just keep spending my money on books by my blogging buddies.

    I totally get the cost of sending out books and as a 'friend' of many bloggers, I buy the books because I want my friends to make a little money off of me. Consider it a donation for their writing career.

    I never write books reviews because I HAVE TO only because I WANT TO and I won't write a book review about a blogging buddy's book if I didn't like it. I would hate a bad review on my site to hurt sales.

    I think if you're trying to get a review from a specific review site, maybe send them a free copy but I would feel bad if a writer spent more money on marketing then on sales.

    In this ever-changing publishing climate, we don't know if the big six publishers or the small independents will continue to help a writer with marketing so we should do our best to help, especially if we know them.

    Talli, I plan to buy your book and Alex's book and others, but it may mean I can't hold a contest on my blog for awhile. Hope that offends no one.

  33. Great start to the week, Taili! I see your point here and yet so many reviewers do get books for free.

  34. It's definitely a business.

    Arcs to blogger and Reviewers is reasonable. I receive such books from various publishers. Reviews are a part of business expenses for them.

    If it's the author wanting the review then they will have to decide who would be best to provide books to for reviews. Money spent to earn money back. An investment.

    I do love having an e-reader because a digital file of the book is much more cost effective for an author and the publisher, for that matter, to provide.

    I very rarely, as in count on one hand, buy books for a review. My buying a book, ebook or otherwise, is for my reading pleasure, not for business.

    As for book give selective. No one says you have to give away a book every blog--especially as an author. If the publisher wants to do that, fine, they have the financial platform to support that.

    Personally, as a blogger, I find it a pain in the ass. First off, getting commenters to provide email addresses so I can contact them and then the hoopla of contacting them and then sending the mailing addresses to the publisher/author. Honestly, it's time I'd prefer to spend on other things. My time is also valuable. I don't get paid for this either. Granted, there are ways to recoup but not worth the effort most of the time.

    At this time, my preference, is to say, "the author/publisher is providing X amount of books to X amount of commenters. If you're interested in being in the drawing send me an email @blah blah." That way it's on the commenters, not me. Keep in mind, not everyone will want to read your book just because they comment.

    Sia McKye's Thoughts...OVER COFFEE

  35. I don't review books at the moment because right now I don't have a book buying budget. In the future I may but I'd never want to be given a book specifically to review for two reasons. Firstly, right now I don't think I have enough readers to justify the expense to the author and secondly because I feel as though being given something is a gift, and what if I don't like the book? I'd feel terrible.

    I'm NOT saying that people who are given books cannot be objective, I'm just saying that I'm not sure if I could be.

    There's a huge difference between a book review site and the blogger that does the occasional review. As an author trying to make a living you have to spend your money wisely.

  36. In all the trying to get published, authors should keep in mind the work ahead of them in the business side of writing. Great post today

  37. Tell you all what... When my book is ready, I will do my damnedest to get you some review copies. I think that's fair. And if I have to do the epublication thing myself, I'll be sure to slip you an email that contains one....just be sure to remind me when the time comes or I'll forget. (I do that.)

  38. Oh, I do usually buy books--if they interest me, of my blogger and author friends. I like to be supportive. I'll also tweet or fb info about those authors and their books and their blog visits, when I can. Talk it up. That doesn't cost anything and creates a buzz and that's what you want.

    Sia McKye's Thoughts...OVER COFFEE

  39. I saw that post. I would never charge anyone to review my books and I would never pay to read an ARC. Nor do I feel that I owe anybody anything because they asked me to read their book. I had to employ the mercy rule once and stop reading a book it was so bad. The author was upset that I didn;t finish it. I told him I couldn't. It was terrible, poorly written, boring, and to follow, and I didn't give a crap what happened to the main character.

    And I've read over 70 pages of Willow Watts this weekend. I'll finish it soon!

  40. Here's how I decide:

    If an author/publisher from a BIG publishing company ASKS ME to review a book - I expect them to send me a free copy.

    If an author from a small independent publishing company ASKS ME to review a book - I expect them to send me a free book.

    If a self-published author asks me to review an ARC copy - because I can't buy a copy, I guess they need to send me a free copy for a review.

    If a self-published author asks me to review their released book - I usually refuse a free copy and buy it myself.

    If a self-published author doesn't ask me for a review but they are a fellow blogger and I like the genre - I will buy it myself and review it.

  41. Creepy, exactly. The author needs to be savvy about it, and look at it as an investment.

    Carol, thanks!

    Jessica, I admit I was a bit shocked. But, well... actually, I don't even know what more to say about that one!

    Clarissa, thank you for providing such an interesting discussion. And, as always, thanks loads for your support.

    Bossy Betty, I see nothing wrong with sending the book out for free to big review sites. But when the writer has to cover the costs to distribute to others who want to do so, I don't agree with that.

    Sia, I agree - ebooks make the whole thing much easier now, thank goodness. And yes, reviewers do offer up their time... mostly for free, too. You're so right about giveaways. They can be a right pain!

    Sarah -- well said.

    Em, yes. Publishing is a business, like anything else. Unfortunately, sales count.

    Phil, thanks!

  42. Am in complete agreement with you, Talli. Totally.

  43. Stephen, thank you! :) Gosh, I can't imagine charging someone to read my book or asking them to pay for an ARC.

    Clarissa, that makes sense to me! I'd say I use similar criteria. Sometimes I just buy fellow bloggers' books without being asked and I do a review, because I want to support them. That doesn't mean I expect the same in return, though.

  44. Wonderful post, Talli. When I have time, I want to read all the comments as well. Well said.

  45. You have quite the discussion going here, Talli! Angelina's comment made me laugh out loud.
    Publishers and self-pubbed authors should send ARCs to review sites and for potential blurbs and endorsements. But they can't send to everyone who just wants a free book.
    I know my publisher send out a lot of ARCs and they did generate reviews. I also know I've given away a lot of my books and here's the sad truth - almost none of those giveaways resulted in a review. I still do it now and then, but I know that the smartest investment is for publishers to send ARCs to actual reviewers.

  46. I agree. I think you have to get creative for giveaways. If I were going to do a giveaway right now of my nonexistent book I'd draw a unicorn on the inside of the front cover, sing it, and call it an exclusive or something instead of giving away 3.

  47. Interesting post!! Certainly a lot to think about. ;)

  48. Interesting. I'm inclined to agree. If an author has extra copies to give away, I think they should because it in turn is promotion and marketing. However, I don't feel like just because someone wants to review a book the author should be expected to provide it free of charge. If the reviewer is smart, they'll buy the book themselves, read it, review it, then give that book away on their blog. This makes readers happy, it's good for the author AND good for the blogger. Win/win for everyone.

  49. I have nothing intelligent to add to the discussion. But it seems things are getting more and more complicated.

  50. hmm... it's an interesting question, and one I hope to be considering soon... ! :D

    Personally, I've had friends THANK me for book reviews. They're always looking for good things to read, and they trust my opinion.

    And as I've been blogging, I've made friends with writers getting published (Bonus!), and if I like their book, regardless of how I got it, I like telling people about it.

    But I do that with all good books I read. So why should I punish my bloggie friends by expecting them to lose money giving me a book???

    Now if I'm ASKED to review something for some particular reason, it's sure nice to get the book for free.

    Just my thoughts~

    Read some reviews over the weekend, and W3 looks fantastic, btw. Can't wait~

  51. You have raised some important issues here Talli.
    When my book was published friends wanted to have them as gifts, but as you pointed out one dosen't get much in the way of royalties.
    I look forward to your next book having enjoyed the first.
    Interesting post.


  52. Talli, I don't think you should give your ARCs to family. Aren't those the first people to buy? Don't they want the "real" copies? You should save the ARCs for promotions.

    With ebooks, it's easy for an author and publisher to send a few free copies and let us review. I think some of your buddies will give away a copy of the book for free just because. I know I've done this.

  53. expected giveaways? WTF? I mean, i love a good giveaway from both ends, but i would never expect it and i hope no one ever expects it from me. My cashflow is an ever flowing sea. Sometimes the tide's in, and sometimes it ain't

  54. Hi Talli .. you've got lots of support here - which is really good - as it's been a point well made.

    I love giveaways and prizes as does anyone .. but I realise that the need to buy the book is also part of the process.

    It's the expected expectation I hate. Cheers Hilary

  55. I think if someone wants to review your book and has not asked you, meaning they're doing it of their own free will, they need to purchase the book.
    If someone says they would like to do a book review, you give them a copy.
    I don't ever expect a copy of the book I want to review, whether I ask the author or not. When I put out I am ready to do reviews and an author approaches me, they usually send the book. Then I post my review everywhere they would like to see it and I even ask them, "Where do you want this?"
    Giveaways are sort of a thorn in my side because you're right, not everyone can afford them. But when I have a little spare cash, I want to be able to do a giveaway.

    Speaking of, and pardon my lack of etiquette but I am doing a giveaway today on a book I just reviewed. I'd love for anyone to stop by.

    Have a great week!

  56. I thought it was an interesting discussion too from both the POV of writer and reader.

    As a reader, I've never been asked to pay for a book I've been asked to review and I'd think it odd to receive anything but the book for the exchange of the review. I also know it can get expensive for people to send books to me where I am.

    As a writer, I have little to no control over sending books to readers. It all comes down to what individual publishers have in their budget for review copies and what they think they will get out of it.

    The few copies that have been sent out by my publisher are e-copies and I don't think there will be any more where those came from.

    That means that as much as I'd like to, I can't ask for reviews unless I'm willing to buy the book and send it out to reviewers.

    A few of the comments made me cringe because I am a writer, not that I've done a big blast or anything yet, but things are not always what they seem for a writer who has limited resources and is trying to make a name for him/herself.

    If people know upfront what I'm willing to give in exchange for their help then it shouldn't be a problem. Personally, I'm willing to do my part to assist another writer if I think they have a good story. All it's costing me is a little time and energy.

    Now, I've written an essay in your comments. :)

  57. This is a tough one. I gave copies to reviewers that I personally spoke to and asked to review my novel. If any approach me I'd have to weigh the benefits carefully because like you said, we only get so many copies to dish out. However, I reserve those copies for contests and reviewers because like you said, it is a business.

  58. Wow, thank you everyone for weighing in here! I've been reading and absorbing all the comments.

    It is difficult issue, isn’t it? As I said, I have no problem with ARCs. But when there’s an expectation that I should be giving away free 'final product' books because people helped promote my novel, well… not so keen on that. : ) I WISH I could, but.. I can’t. I wouldn’t go into a bakery of a friend and expect a free cake. In my mind, this is a similar scenario.

    I hope it's clear how much I do appreciate all those who help and support me! :)

  59. Well, I review every book I read, but unless I request to read and review an ARC or the author comes to me directly or is looking for reviewers, then I wouldn't expect to just get any book free of charge in exchange for a review.

    As for prizes, it's nice, if you can afford it, but I can't see where it helps drum up business of buying a book or not.

    Great discussion here, Talli. :)

  60. I will read through the discussion in the comments in a bit, but I just want to say that I do agree with what you've written here.

    I love giveaways, but I don't think reviewing (or promising to review) a book entitles the reviewer to an ARC or a free copy. At all.

  61. Thank you for an interesting post which has stimulated some great discussion. Enjoying reading thru the comments. In my experience, one has to be discerning abt who they give free/review copies to. I would rather give a free copy to someone who's desperate to read my kind of book, rather than to my best friend who really hates to read anything and will only read it because she HAS to. I like being able to send e-copies of my book to people who have already expressed an interest in being an advance reader/reviewer and have found that hugely beneficial in terms of promoting my book.
    I agree with Catherine Ryan Howard, that giveaways on my blog are done as a thank you to my readers/followers/supporters. I like to find small ways to show my supportive readers how much I appreciate them. My litle blog giveaways have helped to build a community feeling on my blog and also led to the building of some great blogger/reader friendships.

    As to the usefulness of bk giveaways? I won a free copy of Ms Howards book 'Self-Printed' (right here on your blog Talli thank you both) and it has been my Bible when it comes to helping navigate the troubled waters of self publishing. I have posted reviews for her bk and I recommend it to anyone and everyone I ever talk to about getting published. I hope that in some small way, I have been able to help Ms Howard sell more books. (Because its a kickass book and deserves to be selling like sugar donuts, my alltime fave addiction...)

  62. Offering to do a review in exchange for a copy of the book just smacks of someone trying to get a freebie to me. And I'm guessing that not everyone who gets a free copy in this way will feel in the least bit obliged to give a fair and balanced review, even though they should.

    As for giveaways, they can help to spread the word about a book and even sometimes lead to a recommendation and/or review, but by their very nature they do also attract people who are just looking to get their hands on free stuff.

    I think if you genuinely want to support an author, you should buy their book, read it and, if you enjoyed it, recommend it to others. How you do that, whether by writing a review, featuring it on your blog, or tweeting about it, is kind of up to you. And the only thing you should ever expect back in return for doing any or all of that is at most a Thank You from the author.

  63. Wow, what a great post and discussion. I totally agree with your points, Talli, and I'm actually kind of surprised that people would expect free books. Maybe I shouldn't be! But I think it's fun to support authors and their books, I look forward to buying my own copies of books written by my blogging pals and wouldn't expect authors to supply me with freebies.

    So glad your insomnia has subsided, I have struggles with that periodically and know how difficult it is. Have a great week ahead!

  64. I agree! It's fun to offer drawings for free stuff, but it shouldn't be expected. The most valuable promotions will be the ones from people who would help regardless because they really like you.

    Speaking of, I love the cover for Willow, and I signed up for your launch party! I love the cool idea for your contest. A few weeks ago I thought up a really fun contest for Countless, whenever the heck I get published :) I love the creativity of stuff like that!

  65. I think you make excellent points. When I offer to help a fellow author, I expect nothing in return. I believe you get what you give. Plus, I just enjoy giving. :-)

  66. Talli, you would have seen my comments at Clarissa's. I review books and it's my pleasure to pay for them as I know that writing is darned hard work and yes, authors usually don't make much/any money as it is. That said, some blogger friends often kindly give me a free copy of an e-book but there is no pressure to give a review. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't. I can't write a bad review!


  67. Very tricky subject, Talli. I'm not published (yet?) so I'm coming at this hypothetically. I wouldn't ASK someone to review my book and then expect them to buy it, but if someone who wanted to review my book approached me and asked for a free copy, I would hesitate to hand one over. Especially if they are not an established reviewer and they missed the 'free copy' boat during the lead up to the launch. I would wonder why they have an interest in reviewing it, yet don't want to support me by buying it.

    I have received a free copy from an author in exchange for giving them a review, but this was prior to its release and once the book was on sale I bought a copy to show my support. As I am not an established reviewer and wanted to read the book anyway, I felt that I SHOULD buy it. Also, since I do not have a great following on my blog, I doubted my review would really increase sales, so my purchase probably helped more than the review.

    Not sure whether I missed the point of the convo (lots of interesting comments), but you have my thoughts! :)

  68. I also agree with you Talli! Congrats on Willow's fabulous book blogger review! Julie

  69. This is such a great discussion. I'm not at the stage where I've had to think about this so I've learned a lot. I do agree with Catherine Ryan Howard. Giveaways are nice rewards that can do wonders for publicity under the right conditions.

    I also see your point. I wouldn't walk into a friend's bakery, offer to help promote it and expect a free cake. Although, I would ask if it's possible to give away a free cupcake to those who respond to the promotion. Then I'd buy a large expensive cake for myself. Why? Because that friend may be able to afford and want to give away a cupcake to help with publicity. But I wouldn't expect it for myself and I would never make it a condition to give something to readers exchange for helping.

    Reviewing books makes me uncomfortable. I'd rather do an interview or have my writer buddy post a helpful or entertaining article while giving them the chance to talk about their book. I think authors have to do what their comfortable with and can afford.

    And why are you giving family and friends ARCs? To me, family members that want to help me and friends that truly care will buy a copy or two :).

  70. Very interesting discussion and I'm so gald you titled it 'Pulishing is a Business' as I'm having to remind myself of that every day!

    Personally, I don't like asking for reviews and prefer someone to have bought the book and then put a review somewhere if they want to. My publisher sends out the ARC to a few review forums and I prefer that option. But I don't mind giving away a published e-book or gift card on a special occasion - like at my online launch, as that's for fun.

  71. A great post Talli and one that has created much discussion. As an Indie author I have offered my books free to reviewers. And like Jim, I look to send e-book format and only to those reviewers who are interested in my genre.
    Sadly, giveaways are out of the question, I don't have the resoures. Thanks for providing such a great subject, it is interesting to read all the comments.

  72. Talli, has your publisher considered joining NetGalley? While I don't know the costs involved for this service, NetGalley provides e-ARCs to book reviewers for a limited time before release date (usually 2 months prior). The publisher can establish its criteria too for who can receive an e-Arc.

    Check out for deets.

  73. Wow, so many great comments, and I've really enjoyed reading through them all and taking them in.

    Just to make everything clear, I'm not talking about ARCs -- which neither myself nor my publisher have any issues with sending out for free.

    I don't give friends and family ARCs, either -- when I say I get 10 copies of my book, I mean the finished product.

    Thanks, everyone, for joining in the debate with such thoughtful comments.

  74. So, so true. Publishing is a business and it's especially easy to get so emotionally invested in it that you forget that!

    So excited about Willow's release and the launch. I'm really hoping I don't flake and forget about it - my memory is so rubbish these days! :-(

  75. As a blogger I wouldn't dream of asking for a book to review that had been out for a while. In fact, I don't ask at all.

    When authors/publishers tweet when they have a review copy up for grabs I always check the synopsis to see if it's something I would enjoy. If not I don't send that email/tweet.

    Often, I will be supplied with an e-copy which I read on my Kindle. So far I've liked what I've reviewed (but then I have chosen to read it!) and often I'll go back and purchase previous novels.

    I've done one paperback giveaway because I won a signed copy and the publisher sent me a copy. The other giveaway was an e-copy provided from the author. I know some bloggers are given paperback copies for giveaways from the publishers but I've seen the e-copy giveaways rise since I've been blogging (Feb).

    Interesting debate Talli :) x

  76. It's astounding how generous you are with promoting other talented authors. Thank you.

  77. Talli I'm quite new to this review thing, been trying to formalize it with my new blog (Fabulosity Reads). I appreciate it when an author sends me their book because as a reader there are many books from so many blogger/writers that i'd like to have and support with a review but the finances don't agree.
    And so generally I don't buy books because added to that most blogger/writers are with smaller publishers and they do not reach South Africa in distribution and having Amazon do it and still pay cistoms is a killer. So I just pass and hope that one day I'll come across a giveaway that I might possibly win and outside of that chances are zero. even the Ebooks get expensive so I tend to look out for those I can get at $4 and under like a great book I got call "A world I Never Made" and did a review on. I think the writer does have to be a little more creative about getting their books out there and its not necessarily that the reviewer just wants a free bee, I believe some do want to help as I do, but it is just impractical to buy everyone;s book that we'd like to read. On the other hand I think its also impractical for the review to expect hardcopies. That's ridiculous.

  78. I'm with you, Talli, on the big giveaways. And for the expense of sending out printed books for reviews. I sent a print copy to someone who said they'd review it; they didn't want an ebook. That was very expensive because it was to a place "overseas" that cost more than five dollars as I recall!

    As you said, we struggling writers don't have money to do this. I also don't think a writer with a new book should send out dozens of ARCs. Those are freebies. Publishing IS a business; and whether we say this out loud or not, as writers we hope to EARN something for all the hard work we've put into our book. As Jim says (first comment here) I agree: plenty of reviewers will read an ebook. Go for those; forget the others.

    Like Jim, I can't say yes or no as to giveaways helping book sales. I'm leaning toward the "no." As he says, get that second book out there; that may help the sales of the first one, especially if word of mouth has established the fact that the first book is very good and people want to read more from the author. That's YOU, Talli! I'm excited to read about Willow.

    Finally, do sizable giveaways in return for our friends helping us? No. I agree with you. We should help each other with this because we WANT to. You've read a good book. How much time does it take to post a review on Amazon, B&N, Goodreads? Same review for all places! And Twitter it and Facebook it.

    I want to use what money I do have for books to BUY the books. Lots of giveaways: I can't do this either!!
    Ann Best, Author of In the Mirror, A Memoir of Shattered Secrets

  79. Oh by the way I agree with all of Clarissa's points. I would also buy a book from a self published blog friend that's close to my heart.

  80. I don't think you should have to send out free books to all the people who review it. Like you said, you'd only end up losing money that way. By a similar token, contests and giveaways cost money too, which is why I haven't done any of those on my blog. If I buy a book by a fellow blogger, it's because I am interesyed in his/her work and I like the writing. (That's why I bought your novel, which I liked very much!) I think it's good that people review other writers' work as a way to show support, but I think it's also important for people to buy the books and read them; that way they can encourage other people to do the same.

  81. I don't "expect" something from my friends other than friendship, it should be the same in the blogosphere. We shouldn't expect to get anything else out of it.

  82. Hi Talli,

    You make some interesting and valid points and from the comments too. I get to learn a lot.

    This turned out to be an interesting subject for my current...aha... predicament as well!

  83. Quite an intriguing post and raises a lot of questions--when is it useful to spend the money and when are you...spending money? Especially now, when the Internet has changed the rules. Whenever I get a "free" copy of anything, I try to review it everywhere I can think of to pay for it. But I may not be the norm...

  84. No I agree Talli. When I'm interviewing an author they usually send me their most recent book or several but that's different.

  85. I personally never expect anything from anyone else if I do something like review a book. I don't tend to do a lot of book reviews on my blog but I will do if I really enjoy a book.

    As an author with a debut novel about to be published, this post was really topical for me. I have done some giveaways on Goodreads and other bloggers websites. This is because, as a first time novelist, I feel the need to get my name around. I agree (not counting book bloggers) it's impossible to send free copies out willy nilly. I had to really fight with myself over this as there were so many people I would have wanted to give a free copy of my book to if I could. I have had to rein myself in often, which made me personally sad but it makes business sense.

    It's also interesting to see how things vary from publisher to publisher. Thanks for sharing that detail.

  86. All good points, Talli. I think it does become a gray area after the book's been published, but I think, as authors, we need to support each other. If that means shelling out $2.99 for the Kindle version, then so be it. (while I shamefully still haven't written the review of The Hating Game), I was happy to buy it during your websplash, and frankly had no expectation of anything in return. Why should I? That's not the point. The point is to support each other, and if it means skipping my martini at dinner, fine. Who needs those extra calories, anyway? :)

  87. you have the right attitude. there are so many stories out there about someone giving their stuff away and someone else loving their stuff and spreading it around and making that author more popular. well, there's this human tendency to 'get' people to help us authors out, which is not the proper spirit.
    excellent reminder.


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