Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Why Requiring a Follow Doesn't Make Me Satan

Look, when I first started this whole book blogging thing I was right there with you. How much more shameless of an act can you get than requiring people to follow you in order to enter your giveaways? Seriously? Number whores! Fakers! SHENANIGANS! I call upon you SHENANIGANS!

Take a look at my follower number. See that? I fell onto the number whore street corner and offered it my leg. A good chunk of that number was from me requiring people to follow my blog when I was giving away an ARC of Cassandra Clare's CLOCKWORK ANGEL before it was released. My numbers totally blew the EFF up. And you know what? It boosted my ego. That was the only time I turned into a shameless shiller. Everyone got what they wanted although I kinda needed to shower afterwards.

I was never big on the additional entries hoops some bloggers made entrants jump through (post here, follow there, comment on this, walk my dog . . .) or requiring anything. All you had to do was comment; if you happened to follow I'd give you an extra entry but that's it. If you didn't follow, no sweat off my back. But the bigger my giveaways got (Summer Blast Giveaway, my Halloween giveaways, etc.) I would get a little grumbly that someone whom I'd never seen before, either following or commenting, was snagging the stuff I was giving away and then I'd never see them again.

How can I prove it? Really I can't. It's more of a gut feeling. The more giveaways you have the more you come to recognize the names on your list and just who's hanging around after the giveaway's gone. I have no viable proof but I know there are people who are drive-by giveaway entrants and when they won something it really rankled me. Of course I'd give it up. I'm not an asshole (most of the time) but I'd be grinding my teeth doing it. And I kept doing it because if I required a follow then I really was an asshole that was just in it for the numbers and I certainly didn't want that.

It was Jen at Reading with Tequila that made me look at it from a completely different perspective. It was because of her that I realized requiring a follow of some kind doesn't mean you're the epitome of blogging douchery and should be shunned onto a bed of spikes. It can mean that you don't want to give your shit away to just anyone.

So I'm wandering around people's posts this past Tuesday with the tips for book bloggers Top Ten as this week's theme and I'm seeing a lot of good stuff but at the same time I'm also seeing shunning in the name of requiring a follow and it stings a little because it's something I do. And I don't do it for the numbers simply because, for the most part, I don't give a shit about my numbers. Even as I sit here and require followers for my giveaways, my numbers increase organically. I don't get large dumps of sign-ons when I post giveaways. They creep up, creep down and sometimes just kind of hang out. Like everyone else's.

I just want to say that requiring someone follow you on your blog in order to enter your giveaways isn't the end of the world. It's not even halfway there. I ended up doing it (and giving people a variety of ways to follow) simply because I wanted to delude myself into thinking that I'm giving stuff away to people that actually use my blog and aren't just using me for the free shit.

An argument: but what if you're not the one supplying the giveaway? What right do you have saying who can enter and who can't? Um . . . my blog? For which I put into my own time, unpaid? For which I dress it up nicely with my own money? For which I give it its own URL, paid for with my own money? Because I fucking can? It is by the very act of my good graces that publishers and authors have access to my blog to use as a conduit for promoting their wares. If they don't like the way I function there are a shit-ton of other blogs out there they can use that I'm sure would be more than willing. Have at it. It's all in my policy. It's how I'm conducted my blog from the very beginning. If I am hosting a giveaway of an author or publisher, I don't forfeit my blog to them and let them dictate terms on who can enter or not (unless it comes to country restrictions, which is absolutely reasonable). It's still my blog, regardless of whether the giveaway comes from me or from someone else. I don't want my blog being a passing stop for anything I give away, or I allow to be given away in my space.

It's a synergistic relationship. With access to publishers and authors I can gain a greater audience with better giveaways which opens the publishers and authors up to a greater number of people. So, well, wouldn't it be better for everyone involved if there was a regular readership to said blog that would be better able to get the word out than a cluster of passers-by that may or may not care? Repeat customers are where the business is, people.

So considering everything I do for this blog, for the authors, for the publishers, for the books, for other bloggers even, am I really asking that much for people to follow my blog for a chance to win something I give away? Is that really so much to ask? For the daydream notion that the bookly good stuff I give away ends up in the hands of repeat readers of my site, someone that actually enjoys something other than what I'm giving away instead of someone that blog hops for the free shit and nothing else. Really?

This is why I do it. I may not care about the numbers but I do care about content and I'd like to think people are into me for more than just what I can give away. I don't think that's a lot. I don't ask for anything doing this. I don't host advertisements because I refuse to relinquish control of what gets advertised on my blog. I don't ask for donations because, quite frankly, I think that's tacky. I volunteered for this and I knew going in what it would cost. Why would I put my hand out for it? I don't participate in any kind of incentive program (aside from the fact that Amazon yanked their program out of Connecticut due to a tax issue, you're a douche, Malloy). I just want some reassurance that people are actually reading the shit I spit out. That's all. So call me an asshole for doing it. But I'm pretty sure there are a lot worse things I could be doing as a book blogger than requiring a follow for my giveaways.

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