To Give or not to Give Away: The Verdict

First of all, let me just tell you guys how astonished I am by the overwhelming response the original post generated. I never thought that it would get so many people thinking and talking about this topic. I don't think I've ever written a piece that prompted replies from so many people in the industry, fellow bloggers and online reviewers, and SFF readers.

Every time I checked my email in New York City, I would take a second to peruse the comments on the blog. Many of you emailed me on the gryphonwood.net address, but I didn't have access to that account while on vacation. So I'm sorry for not being able to respond to Chris, Graeme and the others. In any case, at 2$ for 20 minutes of internet access, I was only using those computers for the "important" stuff. . .

Interestingly enough, it seems that a lot of publicists and other professionals in the publishing industry interpreted my initial post as an announcement that I wouldn't be doing any giveaways anymore. Let me reassure everyone by saying that this has never been considered. Many people appeared alarmed and concerned, for the Hotlist has become the perfect venue to give exposure to authors and their books. I'm acutely aware of this fact, and I don't want things to change.

Having said that, I will reduce the number of contests I do on the Hotlist. Six different giveaways in the span of about two weeks earlier this month proved to be too much, especially since other websites and blogs were announcing their own giveaways during that same period. Providing exposure to good writers and their work has always been this blog's mission. And yet, just how much exposure does one get when there are about ten simultaneous contests running out there? I'm conscious that, as owners of SFF blogs and websites, were are more or less trying to do the same thing. Hence, occasional overlapping is inevitable. But when different sites run the exact same contests, then such giveaways suffer from overexposure. Which, in the end, isn't good for anyone.

Graeme came to me, asking what we could potentially do between us to prevent blogs and website from becoming venues whose only function will sooner or later become to advertize what publishers are willing to supply. Could we somehow police ourselves? Honestly, I don't think that's possible. In any event, a blog is a very personal thing. So it all comes down to each of us. What is more important -- popularity or credibility?

As I mentioned in my previous post, it's easy for me to say all this because few giveaways actually result in an increase in my traffic. Yet that's not the case for most bloggers. Each person must make a decision, and it wouldn't be right for me to try to influence anyone. I've been "fighting" for the credibility of the blog-reviewing world for over two years, so it's obvious where I stand on this issue.

In addition, I have built a following over a long period of time. The new generation of bloggers all want to be popular now, to get the ARCs, the review copies, the interviews, etc. Many don't seem to understand that trust between a reviewer and readers doesn't happen overnight. It takes months for that trust to be established. That's why I maintain that the quality of a blog's content should remain the number 1 priority. After all, what good is an increase in traffic engendered by a giveaway if no one returns to read what you write?

But fear not, for less giveaways doesn't rhyme with no giveaways!;-) It's just that I will try to limit them to 3 or 4 a month, unless there's something special going on. And yes, anything bearing the name Erikson, Bakker, Martin, Hobb, Lynch, Kay, Novik, Gaiman, Williams, etc, should always be up for grabs!:-)

Some publicists were willing to give me the exclusive rights to the giveaways I was interested in, but I declined that option. Doing something to the detriment of the rest of the Blogosphere isn't an appealing prospect to me. Heck, I've been doing my best to help my fellow bloggers to get recognition, so it would make little sense to pull the carpet from under them like this. Still, I will ask for an "exclusive" buffer period when I run a contest, just to make certain that nobody else will simultaneously be doing the same. But I have no intention of preventing anyone from running contests on their sites. All those to whom I have talked so far find this acceptable. And if a publicist/editor isn't disposed to grant me such a buffer zone, then they will have to look elsewhere, for I will not offer their books on my blog.

As someone told me when I originally announced that I was considering reducing the number of giveaways on the Hotlist, I'm sort of like the Super Bowl when it comes to advertizing on SFF blogs. I know what sort of exposure I can provide to new or midlist authors. Unfortunately, unless everyone involved can rearrange the problem we are currently addressing, I will most probably have less room for such contests. This sucks because I love the fact that I can help spread the word about them and their work. Well, we'll have to see how everything unfolds. . .

As you can see, I've just announced a new giveaway for the limited edition of Neil Gaiman's M is for Magic. And believe me when I tell you that this is just one of the many upcoming collaborations between the Hotlist and Subterranean Press. With a lot more to come, so stay tuned!

As for a recap of my meetings in NYC, I'll try to write a post about that this weekend. I have some GRRM news that few people will like to hear. . .

I hope this post made sense. . .

13 commentaires:

La Gringa said...

I like using the blogosphere to help promote new authors, whether in a professional capacity or in a sneakly stealth capacity (which I tend to do for books I like but that aren't necessarily published by the company I work for).

Really like your blog, by the way.

Papasan said...

That's quite the tease at the end of your post. In any case, I think it is all well reasoned. I've entered a few of your contests, but certainly not all them, and the contests are definitely not the primary reason to visit your site. That would be the interviews.

Anyway, keep up the good work!

Sarah said...

Is it that the book will never be done??? Oh please let it not be that...

(GRRM that is.)

Pamela Milkweed said...

WHAT A TEASE ABOUT GRRM!

Larry said...

Not a bad course of action there, Pat. I do believe that an easier way for more widespread participation (and somewhat "equal" billing, I suppose) is that a few of the bloggers who happen to post on some of the same websites had a gentleman's agreement with each other and with various publicists to have a sort of a coordinated drawing in which it would be publicized on various blogs and/or websites and a drawing would be held from a common pool of submitters. It is another way of clearing up any redundancy without cutting any one blogger or groups of bloggers from the limelight, I suppose.

That being said, I think I'll go back to being the "underground" sort of blogger, one who seems to be reviewing mostly those who aren't even on your radar! :P

I'm still awaiting your opinion on Wizard of the Crow, you know ;)

Maria A said...

...and the verdict is fortunately mild ;)
But.
PLEASE let it be that the "a" has fallen out from between the "that" and the "few" in the GRRM news...

Remy said...

Your post made complete sense and you make some very valid points about books being overexposed because of too many giveaways. Nothing every benefits from overexposure.

Now if only I could find your email address.

-Larry

I actually think the multi-site giveaway is a good idea. I know some people have the items ship right from the publisher so it should be feasible to setup some kind of larger multi-site giveaway.

Jak said...

Pat a question if I might.
If I'm understanding your wording correctly here you feel that a blog's content and giveaways are two separate entities?:
"That's why I maintain that the quality of a blog's content should remain the number 1 priority."

If that is the case I would make an argument that they aren't separate but a component of a blog's content. A blogger uses their editorial judgement in deciding which books to review, authors to interview and promote and giveaway. For example if Dan's Fantasy Hotlist was giving away a Gor novel, while our favorite Pat's Fantasy Hotlist gave away Gaiman the content of the two giveaways are indicative of the blogger's tastes and editorial integrity. Your readers would tend to be Gaiman fans or fans of other content you've written about/promoted in the past, while Dan's (I hope there's no Dan I'm offending) reader base would tend to stick with him for his palate.
I agree and support your decision and beleive it will be beneficial to other bloggers also, just thought I'd throw my 2c out there as I didn't in the initial post.
And just like yourself I hope I make a semblance of sense while putting my thoughts out there :)

Graeme Flory said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Graeme Flory said...

Made a complete meal of the last post... *red face*

Seems like the best way to go with the giveaways (I just wish I had your contacts!).
What's going on with GRRM??

Patrick said...

Larry: A gentleman's agreement (or a lady's agreement, for that matter) is not binding enough to make things work in the long run. It comes down to a personal decision.

As for Wizard of the Crow, I had to take a break from reading it while on vacation. Expect a review in August.

Remy: My email address is in my profile...

Jak: Giveaways have and will remain a part of this blog. The problem is that they should never become the "main" ingredient in the recipe!

As for the GRRM news, it will have to wait till this weekend!;-) Though most of you should be able to guess...

remy said...

I must be losing my vision. :(

I just emailed Robert and asked him to give it to me.

Thanks for the response!

Adam Whitehead said...

Interesting tidbit on the GRRM front. ADWD would seem to be a good month or two from completion at the earliest, so I'm assuming the news will be related to HUNTER'S RUN or WILD CARDS instead? Hmm...