Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Of Awards, Contests & Reviews, again

Recently, I attended an authors' luncheon with two better known than me guest speakers. Both had recently won awards of some kind or another--and both acknowledged that hadn't made a bit of difference in their sales. One was for Indie books, and I think the public knows little about these awards and could care less. I also suspect the only awards that would have any meaning would be the Rita for romance in my case or one of the library awards such as the Newbery or Caldecott which can make careers.The Pulitzer would count, too, of course, but that is a different kind of writing altogether. Recently, I received an offer to pay a hefty fee to enter a Reader's Choice Award. No thanks. If I have learned one thing, these are primarily popularity contests, and will-known, very popular authors always win them--or people who have lots and lots of relatives to vote.

Similar offers have come for cover contests. I placed third in one of these that had a modest entry fee, but soon figured out that the best cover did not win and would not win. The winners were those who could spend all day voting for themselves as this contest had no rules against that or had lots and friends and family. A perfectly wonderful cover even better than mine got very few votes. The bit of free advertising that came as my award really didn't result in any sales. My friends and relatives already know about my books, though I did startle some folks at a recent class reunion who said, "You're writing what?" Yes, spicy romance novels. Mostly these contests exist to draw your band of merry followers to their web site and a mailing list.

Speaking of which, I received a notice that one of my books, Son of a Sinner, had been entered in a contest, but not by me. At first, I was a little flattered until I realized every book reviewed by that site had been entered in the contest. The contemporary romance category was huge. In order to go on to the next round, my book had to garner fifty more votes. I did try to get those votes until the people I begged to vote for me reported that they had to join the site to vote and the process to do that was laborious. This was just another case of a site building their mailing list. When I understood this, I ceased soliciting votes and didn't get my fifty to continue. I doubt winning would have made any difference. At least, this one was free.

Also, I have been bombarded lately by people offering to review my books on one hand and offering me an advertising package with another. Oh, how we all pine for reviews, so hard to get these days with so many books out there. I fell for this once.  I sent a review copy, but declined the $350 advertising package. Got a scathing review of a book that had otherwise gotten decent reviews. Smell a rat? Amazon did not post it, so I suspect they were also on to something.  So go with care when offered one of these deals. We are all desperate for reviews.  If you want to do something nice for an author, review one of her books on Amazon or GoodReads for Christmas.

I'm not saying any of the above are scams.  Business is business, and they want to sell advertising and draw people to their sites.  It's up to the writer if they want to participate or shell out the money and see what they get. If any of you know if any of these worked for you, please feel free to comment.

In parting, hi to Lisa and Sarah. Thanks for following my blog.