Friday, May 13, 2016

Amazon's Bizarre Giveaway System is an Epic Fail

For at least six or seven years Goodreads has had a giveaway widget you can use to create contests for paperback copies of your books.  I've used it a couple of times, though it hasn't really done much for me in terms of sales or reviews.  Mostly I think it's just costed me money.

Anyway, maybe since Amazon bought Goodreads a while back they decided to create their own giveaway widget.  I only found out when they emailed me about it.  So I tried it on a newer book.  I set up the giveaway without knowing much about it.  I literally forgot to promote it anywhere, except maybe I Tweeted the link once.

And then a few weeks later I got the results:  137 people entered, 0 won.  WTF?  What's the point of a giveaway if you don't give the fucking product away?  That's the whole basic function of a giveaway!

Well of course the problem is Amazon can't do anything simply.  Goodreads does it pretty easily:  up until a certain date/time you can enter the giveaway.  After the deadline it randomly selects however many people for the number of books being given away.  So if you have 1 copy to give away it picks one person.  If you have 10 copies, it picks 10 winners.

What does Amazon do?  They have three options, all equally dumb:
  1. You assign odds from 10 to 2000, so each entrant has a 1:10 to 1:2000 chance to win.
  2. You can pick a number so that every nth person wins (like every 3rd person)
  3. You can pick the first however many people like those radio contests.

Each option has a downside.  The first I found out with mine.  I had it set at 2000 and that's probably why no one won, because it calculates each person individually, not collectively.  The second and third are both pretty lame unless you have tons of copies to give away, which would cost you an arm and a leg since you have to buy the copies of your book that you give away.  So if I want to give away 1 copy that wouldn't work for the third option because the first person to enter would win, thus defeating the ulterior motive of the giveaway, which is to bring attention to your book.  The second option I could set it as ever 100th person to enter wins, but that seems pretty unfair, don't you think?

Really, just adopt the Goodreads model, Amazon.  It's much simpler instead of needlessly complicated.  I don't think I'll be using it much in the future.  Mostly because Amazon's model sucks and also because as I said, giveaways don't do much.


  1. That does sound complicated. A couple of my worst reviews come from a Goodreads giveaway. lol It costs about $25 by the time you ship it if you're sending out a signed copy. I don't think it ever resulted in a sale. Not worth it at all.

    It's so much easier to send out ebooks. Library Thing has an ebook giveaway one can enter to get reviews. You can give away as many as you want too. However, that too isn't without the bad review risk.

  2. Oh that sounds like a headache. Good thing I stopped giving away books a long time ago. Now I just post stuff for free and give it away to everyone.



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