As the owner of a company that provides a course in miracles bookstore and operates a book contest, I’ve long been aware that there are many bogus contests and reviewers out there. I’ve also promoted blog tours for authors, and I firmly believe that having your own blog and being a guest on someone else’s blog is a great way to get the word out about your book. But not all blogs and bloggers are created the same, and worse, some are not very honest.
Recently, I became aware of a new trend among bloggers to offer giveaways to their readers. Sadly, many of these purported giveaways are scams, or at least, they are not completely honest or providing what they claim they will provide for the book’s author. Following are some examples and guidelines to follow before providing your book to bloggers who are offering giveaways.
First, let’s look at the book giveaway process and what may motivate bloggers to offer a regular book giveaway. The bloggers requests authors and often other owners of various products to send them the products so that they can review them. Next, they read the book or use the product and write a review of the product, posting the product information on their blog. They then ask people to submit their names through some electronic form or via email for a random drawing for a giveaway of the product. The product is then mailed to the winner. Sounds simple enough.
But it’s actually more complicated than that. The blogger isn’t going to go through all this work without getting something in return. Often, the blogger will post an image of the product with a link to where it can be purchased, such as an online bookstore that not only sells the product but also has a referral program where the blogger receives a commission on all products sold when people click through from the blogger’s site to the seller’s site and buy the product.
That is even reasonable and there’s nothing wrong with people being paid for their work. The possibility of unethical and scamming behavior comes, however, in various, sometimes small, but nevertheless serious ways. Before you submit your book to a blogger, here are some things to watch out for:
1. FTC Disclosure-It is the law now that anyone who receives a profit when he or she endorses a product must disclose that upfront. A legitimate website will have an FTC disclosure statement on it that the owner is receiving a commission (whether through click-thru or the direct payment by the author or product owner) for promoting the work. That does not mean the blogger is being dishonest in providing a good review of the product. In fact, if the FTC disclosure is there, it’s a good sign the blogger believes in being honest about the product. If the FTC disclosure is not there, don’t participate.
2. Product Reviews-Before you send your book to someone to review it, look at the past reviews at the site. A lot of bloggers (and book reviewers) claim that they review books when, in fact, they simply copy the product description as it appears at the author’s or an online bookstore’s website, or they copy the back cover description and post that as a review. That is not a legitimate book review because it does not reflect the blogger’s personal opinion of the book and it’s a good sign the blogger didn’t even bother to read the book to find out whether it deserves to be endorsed. The blogger is simply trying to get as many products featured on the blog as possible so more commission can be earned.