April 14, 2012

Pajama Musings - If only ...

... I lived in Ohio then I could not only meet up with dear Amy for a chat over tea and cake, I could also enter oh so many giveaways that are strictly US only.

But today's post isn't about the much discussed topic of how it sucks when you stumble upon a fantastic giveaway that makes you drool and then you see in the small print that it's US only. There is a whole different side to this. The side of those who give a book away.

The authors' side.

Many authors out there will give away books either in contests on their own websites or sometimes they are guests on blogs and you can win a copy of their books there. Great PR. Happy readers. Happy authors.

With most English language authors living in the US (which isn't much of a surprise if you consider the size of the country compared to say, the UK, which also has its fair share of authors though in a much smaller number) and the undoubtedly huge US readership, it's obviously no biggie to exclude the rest of the world. But *surprise* this "rest of the world" has lots of avid readers who love US authors as much as anyone who actually lives there.

Hmmm ... does that last paragraph mean that I'm now openly bashing US authors who're not willing to share the bookish love with the whole world?


We all know how expensive it is to send books overseas, so I'm certainly not going to blame any author for doing giveaways restricted to US only. Usually it will cost you more in postage to send one paperback than simply ordering a copy through TBD (which, once again, makes me wonder how TBD manages the whole free-shipping thing, but I digress).

How about taking a look at UK or Australian authors now? Sure, I've seen a selected few who will do national giveaways only, but most of them take the big leap. Let's say you are an Australian author and your target audience is teenagers who love paranormal books, well, you might want to risk a look across the borders, right? If you're a Scottish author who published a book on sheep herding in the Highlands, well, your target audience might be literally just around the corner and not a ten-hours-flight across the big pond away. I guess you know what I'm getting at here.

If you're an author that doesn't happen to reside in the US and you go on a blog tour, or you're just doing an interview here and a guest post there on various blogs, chances are that you'll stop by an US blogger or two somewhere along the way. Blog reader stats will inevitably vary from one blog to another, but whenever I've seen US bloggers share some stats it becomes very clear that at least 50% (if not a whole lot more) will be US followers. Would you tell the blogger that you'd love to offer a copy of your book in a giveaway for eg Australia only? I think not. You'd go all the way and do it internationally, because from where you're standing it doesn't make a difference whether you send a book to Iowa of Belgium.

So what on Earth am I getting at with this post?

To me it seems, there is a whole lot more pressure on non-US authors who write in the English language than those who are living in the US. While it may be enough for an US author to keep their whole PR efforts within US borders, it's not that wise of non-US authors to do the same in their own home country. And of course, this isn't only about the giveaways I've been rambling on about above, but those are definitely a symptom.

What are your thoughts on all of this? Have you noticed giveaways being almost always open worldwide if the author is living in a country other than the US while at the same time US authors will restrict their giveaways to US only in about half the cases?

Do you think that non-US authors (writing in English) have picked the short straw as far as geography goes? I'm thinking attending book fairs and book signings and everything else that screams PR.

Last but not least, if you're an author, no matter if you're from the US or non-US, what is your take on all of this?


  1. True, it can be frustrating to see US writers offering books to only US citizens, or giveaways meant only for them, but I decided not to care too much. Surely, if you are a non US writer and you want to let your work be known to others, it can be a problem, but there are always ways of moving past these issues :) You did not have to ship your book to me, and I was still able to read it :)

    1. Thanks for mentioning this. Something I didn't discuss in the post is the difference between authors who self-publish and those who don't. The latter will usually have an eBook out too, not just a physical book. This obviously makes it a whole lot easier to keep giveaways international (or to send out review copies, for that matter). Maybe self-published authors are able to think "bigger" that way.

  2. I think your observation is right. US authors have enough of an audience just in the US.

    But also, sometimes US people forget that there is a whole world out there that's not-US. I don't mean that badly, it's just something I'm quite sure about. The country is so large, foreign for them is visiting another state.

    And besides, we as book bloggers know that book blogging is very much an international thing, but authors don't always realise that. So they go for an US-only giveaway, 'cause why on Earth would you go beyond that?

    I do make a point of asking authors/publishers whether the giveaway can please be international, and mention that over 50% of my giveaways are won by US readers anyway. That often works.

    A final point: if I see a giveaway of a book that I don't really know much about, if I see it's US-only, I won't read the rest. If it's international, I'll check out the book in more detail, read the review etc., just to see if it's worth entering. That way, I've taken good notice of the book, and if I don't win, I'm more likely to read it at some point.

    1. I don't host all that many giveaways that are sponsored directly by authors, but in my experience about 3 out of 4 agreed to open it worldwide, because they don't want to leave out international readers. Like I said, I do understand that postage can be a drag, but I've once won a book by an author who sent her book to me through TBD which is a great alternative. Of course a lot of people would love to have the book signed and all, but I'm not that picky when it comes to winning a book that I simply want to read.

      Your final point is interesting - I usually do read on, even if a giveaway is US only, when a book intrigues me, though admittedly I read with more attention if the giveaway is international.

  3. The only giveaways I enter are yours- primarily because I only follow bloggers that I know. So I can't weigh in on why they do only US- but perhaps it never occurred to them to do non- US.

    In reference to your first paragraph though- if you lived in Ohio, we could go see that neat statue at the Cincinnati library! (Which I wasn't even aware of until I saw your pin on Pinterest).

  4. I agree with Judith, if a giveaway is US only, I don't go there at all (if I know beforehand from the linky) or if I find out in the post I immediately leave. I am not only talking about author giveaways but also bloggers who ship themselves.
    But now, totally OT: Something that REALLY pisses me off are two other things:
    1. Contsts on twitter by RandomHouse of Penguin that don't even mention that they are US only. You enter and win and then they tell you, sorry, only US. Happened to me. Twitter is NOT a strictly US site, you know.
    2. The RandomHouse early birds read used to be int'l, now they changed it to only US even for e-books. WTF? They obviously do not care very much for non-US book blogging at all.

    1. Ack ... I hate when they don't have the common sense to state where something can be won! Just between you and me (and everyone else who reads this) I have more than once played with the idea of making my giveaways international, minus the US. Can you imagine the uproar if I really did this? I can already see hate-mail rolling in ...

  5. I have noticed a lot which is why I'm trying to organise a UK based blog hop where I'm asking people to do international if they can but strictly no US only giveaways. Though that is designed for bloggers that want to giveaway books rather than authors/publishers. To be fair, publishers don't always have international rights to the book and won't be open to sending outside their territory. On Twitter, I don't enter giveaways from publishers outside the UK, I take it for granted that they won't send to me.

    It's annoying but I probably have it easier in the UK and I really don't need any more books anyway! Just grabby hand syndrome ;)

    1. Your hop is a great idea and if I hadn't already signed up for another hop in June, I'd be happy to participate. I hope that there will be a second edition of last years EU & UK Giveaway Hop this summer though (I think you were a part of that one, if I remember correctly).