I got into a lovely debate with my favorite author assistant Kate Tilton today, talking about Amazon Giveaways.

Here’s how I see these giveaways going down:

  1. You pay $6 to put two $3 ebooks up for giveaway (or whatever)
  2. Magic happens and somehow people discover your book giveaway (I still don’t understand how that works)
  3. You suddenly get “1,000 new followers” who get an email when you release a book
  4. Those result in sales of your new books


Color me suspicious.

First of all, having done my fair share of giveaways, I know that 80% of people who enter them are habitual enterers of contests. Look down their Twitter feed and you see nothing but “RT and follow to win an XBox” (or whatever the kids are playing on these days). They’re not readers, they’re people who want free stuff. Likewise, I’d wager that 900 of those “1,000” new followers via the Amazon Giveaways are probably of the same vein, especially considering the only way to “promote” your giveaway is via the “#AmazonGiveaway” hashtag.

“But Sush,” you say, “what about those 100 people who are new to you and are actual people who are actually interested?”

True enough, some of those people might just be the folks who turn into SuperFans. But I’m not willing to bet $1.92 (the amount of the $6 that amazon takes for the eBooks that would’ve been sold) that those folks will win.

Also, what’s to say I wouldn’t have found those exact same people by doing a Twitter giveaway and just emailing the copy that I have on my desktop? Or having people sign up for my newsletter, where I can track things like who opened it and who clicked on it when?

“But Sush,” you say, “you’re doing a giveaway on Goodreads right now.”

True enough, I am. But there are two key differences: First, whenever you enter a giveaway, the book will be placed in your TBR and you have the option to follow the author. You get an email when that book on your TBR becomes available.

But even more important, the book is featured on your Goodreads feed. That’s free advertising for me right there. For every 1,000 people who enter the giveaway, my book is seen by all of their friends/followers. Unlike Amazon.

That, to me, is the key difference. Amazon itself isn’t a social platform (yet), and while you have the option to share your purchases with your friends, it’s not a native aspect to the platform. Following an author doesn’t do anything beyond that one person’s inbox. And since I have no insight into the open and click-through rate of those emails (unlike, say, Mailchimp), it’s not something I’m willing to invest my $1.96 in.

(I do want to point out that this is all from a self-pub perspective. Trad and small press people have less control over the ARCs they can give away, so these amazon giveaways are probably awesome to them.)

I might change my mind when I see more information. There are a lot of changes that I want to see on the whole “author page” thing, most specifically, to know how many users are actually following me, who’s getting the new release emails, all that. When I get access to those metrics, I might test out the Amazon giveaway. Until that point, I remain skeptical.

Have a different opinion? Convince me otherwise in the comments!