Thursday, February 18, 2010

Contest Curmudgeon

I guess it's contest season.

Practically every message I get from my various Yahoo groups includes notes from authors whom I may or may not know, begging for votes. Now, perhaps I am being overly scrupulous, but I don't feel comfortable voting for a book that I haven't read. In addition, what I am supposed to do when there are several of my esteemed colleagues in competition? Sorry, but I don't want to choose.

Do romance contests really mean anything? Are they anything more than a popularity contest? Are they any reflection on the true quality of the winning titles? I know lots of my colleagues who title themselves "Award Winning Author...". Should I be impressed? I really don't know.

Mostly I don't bother to enter contests. I just don't have the time or energy. I figure that my circle of readers isn't big enough to make a difference. And I hate asking people to do things for me. Heck, I feel sort of embarrassed every time I put a notice or an excerpt out on my usual lists. Like maybe I'm bothering people. Begging for votes? I just can't do it. I have too much respect for my readers and my friends.

I did enter the EPPIE contest a couple of years ago. That actually cost money, but I figured that it might be worth it if I won. I didn't. The book that did -- well, to be honest, I had read it, reviewed it in fact. I didn't think it was nearly as good as my submission.

Sigh. Maybe all of us authors are egotists. We all think we're great writers, undiscovered, unappreciated. We all think we should be the winners.

What I'd really like to know, though, is whether winning a contest makes any difference to readers. If you hear that a certain title won an EPPIE or a prize from Love Romance Cafe or Whipped Cream or The Romance Studio or whatever, will that influence you? Will you go out and buy a book based on the awards it wins?

Clearly, winning a contest or award brings you some level of free publicity. So readers are more likely to hear about your book in the first place. Other than that, does it matter?

I'd really appreciate your opinions!


s7anna said...

Hey Lisabet,
Seriously, I don't lean on awards or prizes to determine whether I want to invest in an author. I search online for new authors, browse publisher websites, read blogs to get new author and book info. I like to make up my own mind about a book or author. I think an award or prize is more relevant to the author rather than the readers...but then again that's just my opinion. I mean I've known people who only read books that are on the NY Bestsellers list...which honestly, I think is kind of ridiculous because there are waay too many talented authors out there for me to discover rather than follow authors just because they're being awarded by peers or industry specialists.

jean hart stewart said...

As an author who's been ( and is currently) ina contest, I don't think they mean much at all in the long run. Maybe a button to put on your website, but I personally HATE asking for votes and just don't do that much of it. I do think it makes an author feel somebody out there likes their stuff though.

Estella said...

I make up my own mind about an author. I don't care whether they have won a contest or not.

Lisabet Sarai said...


Thanks for your feedback. I find your opinions very encouraging.

Lisabet Sarai said...

Welcome to Beyond Romance, Jean!

I really appreciate an author's perspective on this. Have you won any contests? I certainly agree with you about asking for votes. I mean, if you have to ASK for votes, doesn't that undermine the intent of the whole thing?

Lisabet Sarai said...

Thank you, Estella! Now all I need to do is to find a thousand readers like you!

Beth said...

As a reader, I base me final decision on buying a book on the blurb and maybe an excerpt.
The cover or the title may draw my attention to a book to check out and the more exposure the book has the more likely I am to notice it. But reviews and any awards it may have won have no influence on whether I buy it.
At this point in time most of my books, I've found out about by word of mouth or browsing bookshelves and publisher sites.

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