I once made myself very unpopular at a Harry Potter launch. They had one of those jars, you know, filled with jelly beans — Bertie Bott’s, naturally — and you had to guess how many beans there are in the jar to win it. It wasn’t quite a drawing, of course, more like a guessing, but it had the same feel. The launch of a popular book in a small bookstore meant that there was quite a crowd of people around the jar, filling out their guesses and dropping their names into the collection box.
“I never win these things,” sighed one woman, “I wonder why I bother.” And all around her was a chorus of agreement: “I know! I’ve never won anything” and so on. And without thinking, I said, “Oh, really? I win them all the time.” Well. I hadn’t felt such a cold, disapproving silence since I once heard a man say, “Oh, I loved high school. I was really popular.”
It’s true, though. I do win things. Not big things, never the Caribbean cruise or the 42″ television (not that I have room for one anyway), but second and third prizes. $25 gift certificates from local merchants. A basket of decorative bathroom soaps. A live Christmas tree. A pair of binoculars. A tiny flashlight that says on the side, “The Grim Grotto is dark” (Lemony Snicket launch, that one). A cordless drill.
Online drawings, too — three books from Victoria Blisse. A book from Rebecca Bond. A prize package from author Casey Sheridan that included a keychain, a mini bullet vibrator (that came with two sets of batteries), and a $10 Amazon gift card. Also a book from Sommer Marsden, a leather collar (black with red hearts!) from Babeland from sex toy reviewer Geeky Nymph, two anthologies from Lucy Felthouse, 10 pounds of organic coffee, and a book from Elizabeth Coldwell. Eat your heart out, Charlie Sheen!
Why do I win so much? Well, probably because I enter so much. I mean, there are plenty of drawings that I don’t win, too. But while I can assure you that people really do give away the prizes they say they will, you also can’t win if you never enter. My rules for entering are simple: I never enter a drawing for something I don’t want, and I never pay money to enter. I’ll pay time — I’ll fill out the form, leave the comment, repost the link, that sort of thing. But no money, not even a postage stamp.
The pattern seekers among you might have noticed that I win a lot of books. For one thing, I like to read, so I enter a lot of book drawings. It’s also the case, though, that authors offer a lot of drawings, and — no big surprise — they tend to give away books. Ebooks are especially popular for erotica authors because you don’t have to pay for postage, and your recipient can be nice and discreet. The plain brown Internet wrapper. But it’s also because authors love to be read, and because authors understand that new readers hesitate to take a chance on books they don’t know. Even if you like how a given author blogs, you might not be sure you’d like the novel. Thus, a giveaway is a chance for the author to find a new reader, and the reader to find a new author. That new reader might even leave a nice review or rating up at some site, although I’ve never seen a giveaway that even suggested that, let alone required it. It’s just a secret hope.
I suppose people might be wondering if this post is going to include a drawing. Well, it’s going to do several things.
First is to announce a big giveaway that’s coming up, starting tomorrow (December 1, 2011) and running through the 22nd. The prize is … a Kindle! Yes! That’s one sweet prize! Hostess Victoria Blisse has teamed up with 22 blog authors (including moi) to create Blissemas, an event of free reads and essays and jokes and recipes and general holiday-related fun, culminating with a draw for a Kindle. Each day brings you one chance to enter, which is done by commenting on the blog of that day (check the main site for the schedule of blogs — this one is December 7, just FYI).
Second, I’d like to invite any author (well, not kid lit or YA, for obvious reasons) who’s holding a giveaway in the month of December to leave me the link in a comment to this post, and I’ll add them here. Then people can come back again and again to find more giveaways. Remember, people, you can’t win stuff if you never enter!
Finally, for anyone who has never won anything — whether you’ve tried or not — if you leave me a comment here, I will email you my new short story ebook, “Good Girl.” No, it’s not a villa in France, but it’s free! Your choice of .pdf, .doc, .mobi, or ePub formats (or anything else you want, if I can figure out how to make it). Everyone’s a winner!
Oh, and the jar of jelly beans?
Yeah, I won it.
* * *
List of December Giveaways
• From Katie Salidas, a blog tour featuring her paranormal Immortalis series. Different blogs feature reviews, interviews, and guest posts. The schedule for the first week is here:
With thanks to Nutdanai Apikhomboonwaroot, whose portfolio can be found here, for the image of the jelly beans.
* * * * *