The Problem With Give-aways

I have a problem. It’s a good problem to have…sometimes.  I like to give things away. For those who receive, it’s a win-win situation. I’m happy because I was able to make someone else happy.  Unfortunately, I have discovered that there is a dark side to giving away free books to my fans: they don’t always get there.

A few months back, when one of my books was released in paperback, I gave away quite a few copies. After chasing down addresses of winners, I bought the envelopes, signed the books, labeled the packages, and sent my husband on his merry way to the post office. We are a team here, after all.

It went south from there.

Of the twelve packages that were sent, 60% never were received. Several packages came back as “no such address” which baffled me. I went back to my computer, searched for the address from the fan, and double-checked it against what I wrote. Ja, sure enough! I copied the address correctly! (frown). Had the post office vanished? Was that particular fan uncertain where she lived? Was the world gone mad?  I tried to reach out to the fan via email but, lo and behold…no messages are answered. (double frown)

Next, there was a large wave of mangled packages that were returned to me. Books were torn, envelopes ripped, packages empty. (big, big frown).  It was as if my husband had given the packages into a large mail eating monster that devoured the envelopes and tore up the books! One post office actually had neatly opened the package, removed the book, re-taped the envelope, and returned it to me with a nice little handwritten note inside that the book was lost. Sorry, Sherry, the postal workers in KY seem to be enjoying that book now.

Prior to embarking on this journey, I had been warned by another author of Amish fiction about this phenomenon. Her comment was “I just don’t have good luck with give-aways” perplexed me at the time. Good luck? With give-aways?  Everyone loves getting free things, I thought, and proceeded anyway. Now I understand.

With the upcoming release of Valley of Hope, I had wanted to do some give-aways. However, I won’t be able to do that. It’s too disappointing for both me and the winners of those books when the items are not received. However, I’m glad to announce that my new publisher decided to temporarily drop the price of Fields of Corn so that new readers can get caught up on the series.

0 thoughts on “The Problem With Give-aways

  1. So sorry to hear that so many things gets lost in the mail. I’ve been lucky with that because i have often a give away on my blog and send out selfmade pincushion or something else and luckily never has something going missing.
    I only can read paperbacks because I don’t have a e-reader and I think that that kindle edition is for that. I enjoy reading a paper book to much !! Or am I just old fasion LOL

  2. That is terrible. I can’t believe that the postal workers would open and steal a book meant for someone else. But I guess there are bad people everywhere. Would putting them in a well sealed box work better than the envelopes? I always use boxes and seal them very well and so far the books I have mailed to friends & family have all gotten to them in perfect shape.

  3. I always pay the extra to get delivery confirmation and my packages surprisingly get there. I guess it’s because the post office has to be accountable. Secondly, its illegal to steal mail although I’m sure you wouldn’t want the hassle to prosecute. So sorry for your trouble, my friend!

  4. I have had pretty much the same experience. I also have experienced not receiving books that have been sent by the Publisher for my review. Don’t know what is going on, who is taking the books…and destroying the packaging??

  5. Oh my! I have had books that I have won arrive in torn packages but never have I received a package without a book! That is just terrible. Perhaps you might consider, instead of giving away the book, give either a Kindle or Nook copy and if the person does not have a Kindle or Nook then a gift card worth the price of the book to or Just a suggestion. I know for me personally, I love to win books from authors. It seems more personal when it is autographed and I am not always able to go to where authors are doing book signings.

  6. The “english” do not respect books like they use to! They are precious treasures, and although I also wondered about a ebook give away, I am that old fashioned woman too, I find a first edition signed book like silver mixed with Gold. Priceless. Remember the days when you mailed a letter hand written, and if you only knew the town the friend lived it …it still got delivered?

  7. I am so sorry that you and many other authors are having problems with your books arriving intact. I am a postal worker in Virginia and have seen my share of damaged packaging. Your best bet in my opinion would be the Priority Mail small flat rate box, it’s a sturdy cardboard. You can go to the website under shopping, supplies, and order a pack of 10 or 25 or more and it is shipped to you free of charge. The link is:

    I can only think that possibly at some of the larger facilities when they put your package on a big conveyor belt, somehow the machine damages it, don’t really know as our facility does most Priority mail by hand. And do note that all mail will be thrown around and dropped, so packaging must be very sturdy and use packaging tape.

    Love your books by the way 🙂

  8. Sarah, I know this story all too well. I have ordered books through Amazon, etc., and numerous times I’ve received my books in “torn open” packaging! I have also entered numerous contest for free books. It’s a wonderful way to add to my library since my funds are limited. I have had a few instances where the books have not arrived. Regarding the packaging that has been torn open, I have contacted my postmaster, and he told me that the PO needs to verify that a “media mail” sent package indeed contains a book! I’ve complained several times, and they pay no attention to me. I LOVE receiving books, but I also have found that when an author or reviewer sends me a book by way of Amazon as a gift card I’m assured of receiving the book. I think there are benefits to the ebooks because postal workers apparently are not always careful, or they are are thieves. I don’t mean to bash the USPS, but it’s a fact that this has been happening over the years. My best advice would be to ask for confirmation of receipt of the gift, and opt for ebooks where possible. When I send items through the mail I always use Flat Rate Priority mail, and I use packing tape covering the entire package. It gives me a little peace of mind that at least I’ve done my part in trying to ship a package that should arrive intact. Even this does not guarantee safe delivery. I guess I’ll start using UPS or Fed Ex. Sorry you’ve had so many problems, Sarah!

  9. I always mail my books that I sell on Ebay in boxes with lots of heavy duty tape and it always has a delivery confirmation. I’ve only had one problem with a package of books delivered by USPS – the mail carrier left it out in the rain. The sender was really good with the packing of the books, they wrapped them in plastic. That’s another thing I do when sending out books, wrapped them in plastic or bubble wrap. FedEx is terrible in my area, they throw things. They don’t want to walk across our porch so they throw it, even when we’re home. UPS has always been good. They beep the horn, walk our 70 foot driveway, walk across our porch and put the package next to the door. I really like the idea of a delivery confirmation with a tracking number so you can track the package and keep an eye out when it’s the day of the delivery.

  10. Sorry Sarah. I have always received the many books I have won. Only one was damaged by the USPS. And, something heavy with something able to make dents in my book tear spots reaching quite a few pages. They had opened the pkg. ,put the book in a plastic sack and a note apologizing for the damage in shipping. Some envelopes do get little tears in them but never lost my book. I hope the give-aways do no stop! Maxie

  11. sorry to hear that, shipping does that for me too now and then!

    I just today started a blog about my amish upbringing and than I searched for amish blogs, yours was right up there at the top. 🙂 Right away I noticed your books, I have read books about the amish (not yours), but often I don’t because the few I have read have not given even a remote actual “my kind of experience” of being amish. I am now excited to read books of yours, since you have “lived with” and are friends with Amish, but then again they (I am sure) treat you differently than they do me. 😉

    One area of my blogging that really bothers me is my lack of schooling. And currently that is not an excuse, I am 33 and no longer Amish, maybe it is time to do something about it. grin

    I am glad I found your blog and an am excited to read more!! 🙂
    ~ Diane

    1. Diane, you are never too old to learn something new or attend college. I am 54 and still take classes at my local community college. I love learning. Also, what is the link to your blog, I would love to read about your experiences as a former Amish woman, that is if you would like to share. Take care,


  12. Sarah,
    I have loved reading your books on my kindle firethat I got for my 29th anniversary.Maybe you could give away your books via the internet.(if that is posssible)I can’t wait for your books to be released, they bring joy to my lifethat is otherwise painful.I can block it while reading. You are a blessing and I hope you keep writting and I will keep buying.

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