Friday, March 09, 2012

When a Writing Contest Has a Hidden Agenda

Posted by Victoria Strauss for Writer Beware

If you've been reading this blog for long, you may have guessed that I'm not a big fan of writing contests.

Partly this is because so many contests are a waste of time, with minimal prizes, negligible prestige, and zero cachet on your writing resume. Why not spend your energy on something that can get you closer to building a readership--submitting for publication, or publishing on your own if that's what you want to do?

There's also the risk of bad stuff in the entry guidelines--such as the MeeGenius Golden Owl Contest, where simply submitting constitutes agreement to publish and acceptance of a publishing contract that claims rights in perpetuity. Writers who don't read the fine print carefully enough may find themselves trapped by such provisions.

And then there are the contests with a hidden agenda: making money for the sponsor.

Published Book Contest Moneymakers

There are any number of moneymaking contests that focus on published books. Their M.O.: a huge entry fee, dozens or scores or even hundreds of entry categories, and the sale of additional merchandise to winners and honorees. Prizes are typically things that cost the sponsors little or nothing (website features, electronic press releases, vague promises of publicity campaigns). Judges are never named--and may not exist--and, although commercially published books are sometimes declared winners, the contests are marketed mainly to small press and self-published authors.

For instance, the USA Best Book Awards and the International Book Awards, both sponsored by JPX Media. Each contest has a $69 entry fee, over 150 categories, a prize that basically consists of a feature on one of JPX Media's websites, and the "opportunity" to purchase award stickers and certificates. If just 500 people enter each contest (and I'm guessing that's an extremely conservative estimate), JPX grosses $69,000--and that doesn't even include the extra income from sticker and certificate sales.

Other published book contest moneymakers include Readers Favorite ($89, over 70 categories, plenty of adjunct merchandise and services for sale) and the Pinnacle Book Achievement Awards ($90, over 40 categories; the current entry deadline is March 16, with winners announced in "late March," which wouldn't seem to allow much time for judging). 

(A side effect of such faux contests: the opportunity they afford vanity and otherwise dubious publishers to present a gloss of legitimacy or to make an extra buck.)

Unpublished Manuscript Contest Moneymakers 

Another kind of contest with a hidden moneymaking agenda is conducted by fee-charging publishers. These contests focus on unpublished authors, and since entry fees are small or nonexistent, and prizes often involve a promise of fee-free publication, they can seem very attractive. Beware, though: the contest may be mostly, or partly, a way for the publisher to gather a pool of potential paying customers.

For instance, the Deep River Books Writer's Contest, the 2011-2012 results of which were just announced. Deep River Books (formerly VMI Publishing) is a "partner publisher" that requires authors to buy a minimum of 1,000 books. This year's winners received non-fee contracts; other entrants were recognized for various degrees of merit. They were also solicited for publication.
I wanted to be the first to Congratulate you! Your manuscript received “Honorable Mention” in the 2011-12 Deep River Books Writer’s Contest. And while you did not win first place, “Honorable Mention” is a significant achievement when you consider there were over 400 contest entries. You are to be applauded for what you have accomplished.

As you know, Deep River Books is a full-service partner publisher. Our goal is to publish the best manuscripts from new authors, and we certainly feel yours could fit into that category. Due to the high score your manuscript achieved by our judges, I would like to send your manuscript through our regular editorial review process for possible publishing by Deep River Books.

If your book were to be selected by our editorial review board, we would make it a “Feature Title” which includes media coverage and an invitation to be a featured author signing books at our booth during next year's International Christian Retail Show where over 10,000 people, including many bookstore owners/buyers attend. It would also be a featured title at the Deep River Books website.

And because of the “Honorable Mention” status in the contest, we plan to offer you a $500 discount off our standard partnership program as an added incentive, if your book is selected by our in-house editorial team for publication.

This letter (which concludes by assuring the recipient that their manuscript was "a joy to read") sounds personalized, but it's not. Other contest entrants received identical solicitations. I can't help thinking of the "free contests" conducted by vanity anthology companies, where just about everyone who enters is declared a semi-finalist and offered publication, along with the chance to buy the anthology in which their work appears.

So even if a fee-charging publisher's contest sounds attractive, be aware that it may have a hidden agenda, and that entering may make you a target for a sales pitch.

50 comments:

Anonymous said...

Some good information, but there are also many good writing contests. Look for contests with small entry fees and large payout ratios. Some contests let you submit multiple manuscripts for just $10 or less, and some offer over $500 for the grand prize.

Sally Zigmond said...

Here in the UK there are many long-established competitions with a very high reputation--and no hidden small print. (eg Bridport Fish and Asham, to name but three.) They are a great way of building a career and earning some money (although the odds are low.) I know, because I've done quite well out of them over the years So please, don't throw out the baby with the bathwater.

I do agree, however, that care needs to be taken before entering those without a proven track record.

Redleg said...

Victoria, have you heard anything nasty about the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award

Victoria Strauss said...

Redleg--no, I haven't. Amazon Breakthrough is legitimate and popular (and free). But--assuming that an entrant has a marketable manuscript--I think the odds of getting a publishing contract via this contest are probably lower than by simply submitting in the normal way, given the vagaries of crowdsourced judging and the enormous number of entrants.

Victoria Strauss said...

Sally--there are excellent, reputable contests in the USA as well. I don't mean to imply that all contests are suspect. But I still think that for new writers especially, few contests offer rewards that are proportional to the time and sometimes the money involved (especially if they take the work off the market by requiring exclusive submission). I hear from many writers who devote a lot of time and effort to contest-chasing that they might be devoting to trying to get published.

Kerry Steinemann said...

You need a little help on your math $69 x500 is $34,500. Good article though. All contest have some advertising agenda behind them.

Jenny said...

The question to ask about the ABNA (or any legit contest) is "Can I think of the title of one book that won?" Followed by, "Have I bought a book because it won that contest?"

Victoria Strauss said...

Kerry--There are two contests, owned by the same company. I was positing that 500 writers might enter each contest, which would indeed generate $69,000 for the sponsor.

Just Another Writer said...

I actually got my start by winning a reputable contest and have since sold half a dozen books to a big six publisher. But the first anonymous's comment made me a little wide-eyed: small entry fees and big pay-out ratios? That sounds like a strategy for buying lottery tickets.

Please, enter reputable contests with no entry fees. (And no fine print.) And while prize money is nice, think more in terms of a win that will get you out of the slushpile. Enter contests that editors and agents will conceivably have heard of. When you can mention such a win in your query letter, you'll get more manuscript requests. Worked for me.

What doesn't seem to work, by all reports, is mentioning wins in contests nobody has heard of.

Rebecca Ryals Russell said...

This is scary. I never liked entering contests but this only verifies my ill feelings in doing so. Thanks for the heads-up.

Philip said...

Wow - I can't THANK YOU enough for this quality information! I am looking to publish my first book, and my intuition has been ringing out loud and clear against many options I've been coming across. You have helped me immeasurably toward making a quality decision, and probably have saved me from many restless nights in my future! THANK YOU.

Anonymous said...

Is it bad that I immediately though, "ooh, maybe I should run one of those contests..."?

(Joking!)

Anonymous said...

If a contest is a no fee contest, and the award is a legitimate publishing contract, even if from a partnership publisher, what is their to bad mouth? So what if the publisher hopes to publish some of the better entries. Aren't we all adults that can determine for ourselves whether or not it's right for us.
Too many of these Writers Beware blogs sound like a foiled writer's pity party's.
The publishing would and Writers Beware in particular needs to come to the realization the legit self publishing, including some legit contests offered by them is here to stay

Julia Hones said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Julia Hones said...

I know somebody from my literary group who received that letter from this "organization".

Gabriele Goldstone said...

I kept thinking of the Moonbeam contest? Any legitimacy - or just another scam?

Grumpy Grizzly said...

I have addressed contests as well from the stand point of THEIR income - not the writers. http://tinyurl.com/6ustvuo Yes, there are legit contests, but even if you are a great writer, the chances of win/place/show are not good.

Christine Tripp said...

In the case of "Readers Favorite", the contest is so obviously a money maker, it is hard to believe one could fall for it. Yet it continues to happen and I applaud you for bringing this, and other's to our attention.

The RF site offers so much more then an expensive contest, for mauscripts as well as printed books, where one may win a roll of stickers.
It offers "free" reviews by just regular folk who like to read (I assume). But, if you just can't wait (and many of us hate waiting) for $49 you can get a "fast track review", which I assume is still offered up by the same regular reviewers (though it doesn't say THEY get paid to read faster) or if, for fast tracking purposes, a RF employee writes the review.
There are all sorts of other services you can pay for on the site. For example, $95 signs you up for an"E-Query", where an "expert" will help you create a query email and then he will email it to 1000 agents and publishers (that have AGREED to receive such)

Now really, what Legitimate Agents and Publishers would EVER agree to receiving queries done up like this? They are not lacking in queries submitted in the regular manner, and while many are open to simultaneous submission, they are thinking 5 other Agents, 5 other Publishers, not 1000!
Of course, fee based Agents and Publishers would find this idea very attractive. Red flags are all over the site!

Joining a recognized writer/illustrator organization, entering their contests, that's the best bet, in my opinion.

Christine Tripp said...

Anon said: "The publishing would and Writers Beware in particular needs to come to the realization the legit self publishing, including some legit contests offered by them is here to stay"

While I am not sure why it would matter to Self Publishers what the Publishing World (what does "the publishing world" mean) thinks or doesn't think, I think it would be great if you could list the "Legit" Self Publishing Contests, of which you speak. I'm being serious. If a list of these exist and the contest names could be spread around, it would save many a new writer and self publishing Author a lot of heart ache, not to mention money.

Doug Brunell said...

Yet another good piece. Taking the contests to task has been a long time coming.

John Durran, Author said...

Hi Victoria,

Why aren’t you mentioning the other major FAUX AWARDS?:

Indie Excellence Awards
http://www.indieexcellence.com
-$69 entry fee
-Winners get nothing.
-Only Eight books from the pool of winners receive any prizes
-No Judges are listed
-Massive 130 categories
-Winners and finalists get the “privilege” to buy stickers ($25 per roll OUCH!) & Certificates ($25 plus $7 shipping DOUBLE OUCH!)
-Can we say “Ka-Ching” to the owner Ellen Reid?

Independent Publisher Awards (IPPYS)
Also runs the “Moonbeam”, the “Axiom”, the “Living Now” & “eLit” Awards
http://www.independentpublisher.com
-The GRANDDADDY of pointless awards.
-No judges listed
-Over 85 categories
-Wallet busting entry fees of $75 to $95
-Winners and finalists get the “privilege” to buy stickers, certificates, even the digital images for your website are sold
-Winners get to attend a pointless “gala” in NYC. All costs incurred by authors and publishers.
-When was the last time you saw a media article about the IPPYS?
-Jim Barnes and Jenkins must be bringing in hundreds of thousands of dollars… KA-CHING!

Indie Book Awards
http://www.indiebookawards.com
-Some judges listed with dubious expertise. Do I really want aspiring writers or newbie publishers judging my work?
-Bank Busting $75 per category
-Winners and finalists have the “privilege” to buy stickers ($30 a roll plus shipping), certificates ($20 plus shipping) & medals ($25 plus shipping)
-Some prize money (most winners get $100, barely covering the cost of submission)
-60 categories
-Ran by a publisher in Canada! Conflict of Interest anyone?

There are many others as you know Victoria. I’m sure your readers would appreciate a full list of these awards!

Cheers!

Jennifer R. Povey said...

I read the MeeGenius contract and almost wished I hadn't.

In perpetuity? And they are claiming ALL rights, and demanding that you ask their permission before doing anything with the work. If they grant it, then you have to credit THEM and give THEM royalties.

Excuuuuuuuse me.

Victoria Strauss said...

John asked,

Why aren’t you mentioning the other major FAUX AWARDS?

Because of space concerns--I didn't want this post to run on and on. Thanks for mentioning them for me.

I think the IPPYs actually have some standing, because they've been around the longest and as a result have gained some name recognition. I'm also on the fence about the Next Generation Indie Book Awards, because they offer genuine prizes. Even so, it's a lot of money for a slim chance of winning.

Some other high-entry-fee moneymakers:

- The Global Ebook Awards ($79), which unfortunately benefit from having Dan Poynter's name attached.

- the eLit Awards ($80), sponsored by expensive self-pub and "marketing" service, the Jenkins Group.

- IndieReader Discovery Awards ($150)--this one has the highest fee of all; I blogged about it a while back.

Anonymous said...

RE: Dan Poynter's Global eBook Awards

I also find this contest questionable and find the partnership with Smashwords unfortunate. I use Smashwords and worry Coker's mention of the contest will give it a veneer of prestige which isn't actually there. It may be above board business-wise, but entrants have to know that the contests goal is to sell them stuff.

Anonymous said...

Has anybody ever had dealings with this society scbwi that they've not been pleased with?

Christine Tripp said...

>Has anybody ever had dealings with this society scbwi that they've not been pleased with?<

The SCBWI is a well known and respected Author and Illustrator Society.
While I am sure that somewhere, someone is not happy with any large organization, the SCBWI is a well established, totally honourable group.

A. C. Crispin said...

My main unpleasant encounter with a writing contest was the time the guy running it tried to bribe me into keeping mum about his chicanery.

Remember Mitch Graham, real name Mitchell Gross, the guy who set up the Merrill Writing Contest, with a 5000 prize, and hired prominent s.f. writer Ben Bova to judge it? Trouble was, there was only one entry...Mitchell's own. So of course Ben declared the sole entrant to be the winner, which was according to the rules. (Ben thought this odd, but rules are rules, and most writers aren't as scam conscious as Victoria and I are.)

So Mitchell Graham won his own contest. Writer Beware did a lot of computer searching and tracing before we were able to link the contest with Mitchell's own financial projects, because it was pretty hidden. We also verified that it had no link (as had been implied to us) to Merrill Lynch.

Aha. When I went to DragonCon that year, I was on a panel with Mitchell, the brand new shiny contest winning author who'd just had his brand new "award winning" book released from HarperCollins. Matter of fact, I sat next to him. When time came for me to do my usual brief Writer Beware summary, I was careful to mention that the "Merrill Company's" contest was bogus. I didn't look at Mitchell when I said it, but I stationed a friend in the second row with orders to watch his expression. The moment I said it, his face took on a startled, then panicky expression, then smoothed out very quickly. Con artists get good at that.

Heh heh, I thought. So he knows we're on to him. He won't attempt to milk anyone else with his "contest." And he didn't.

But that's not the end of the story. I had barely walked in the door from DragonCon, when my home phone rang. It was Mitchell.

"Say, Ann, I found your cellphone case right below where you were sitting. Did you miss it yet?"

"Can't be mine," I said.

"Oh, you need to check," Mitchell said. "I'm sure I saw it with you while we were sitting there. And there's $500 bucks in the front compartment. I'll send it right up to you, Fed Ex. You'll have it tomorrow."

OHO!

For a moment I was struck by the sheer ballsiness of a guy who assumed everyone was as dishonest as he is. Then I shook my head, and grinned. "Nope, Mitchell. Can't be mine. I don't have a cellphone case."

"Are you sure?" he sounded less sure of himself, now.

"Yes, positive," I said. "Oh...and congratulations on winning such a...prestigious...contest."

Silence on the other end. Then he said, quietly, "Thank you."

"I have to go now," I said. "Bye."

And that was my only face to face encounter with a writing scammer. Of course, since that time, Mitchell has gone on to bigger and better scams. Victoria blogged about him fairly recently.

http://accrispin.blogspot.com/2012/01/delmont-ross-writing-contest-saga-of.html

-A.C. Crispin
Chair, Writer Beware
www.writerbeware.com

John Durran, Author said...

Thank you for your response Victoria,

I’m also saddened by the Dan Poynter E-book awards. Why would he tarnish his reputation like that? Plus the judging process with over 250 judges looks like a mess…who are these people?

I’d also be weary of the Hollywood Book Festival company…and their dozens of other contests…”Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, London, DIY, etc.) Although only a handful of categories for each contest, no judges are listed and prizes are slim or non-existent. $50-$75 entry fee.

Although the IPPYS/Independent Publisher Awards (Jenkins Group) have been around awhile, I still get an unsettling feeling…

Here are a couple of threads I found online…

"Yes, I hired the Jenkins Group. I spent a lot of money, mailed the required 24 books and never heard one word from them after their ‘show’ in New York City where my book was to be displayed. When I called to ask about feedback, I was told they do not provide feedback. The other books were designated to go to other shows which I signed up for and I never heard anything from those shows either. Not a word. (I heard plenty from them prior to them receiving my money). Not only do I feel I was cheated out of my money and materials, I also know they are selling the books. So, I am competing for sales on books that I gave away. Expensive lesson for me." –thewritetherapy (9-7-2010), thread at: http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=129169

Another Jenkins Group thread about the spamming & upselling of their products and awards:

“For those newbies who do respond, a relentless upsell process begins -- if you're willing to pay $100 to enter a contest, maybe you'll pay $300 to enter in two more categories. If you're willing to pay $300 for a book contest, then maybe you'll pay $500 to have your book displayed at a series of exhibits/shows..”

https://www.createspace.com/en/community/thread/11026

Cheers,
John

R. Brady Frost said...

I was unfortunate enough to fall prey to one of these "contests" early on. I also got suckered into having one of my poems "converted to song."

Both experiences produced horribly edited work that mangled my original pieces. It made me very sad, disheartened even. It was a blow that took years to recover from.

Sure, there's no problem entering contests. But be wary that there are sharks in the water. Seriously consider what you're doing if someone wants money to read or publish your work. If you get published and have to buy the book or product that was produced, something is wrong.

Great post, thank you for putting this out there.

Laura Merrill said...

Thanks so much for this informative article, as well as some of the informative comments - I am glad to see a list (assumedly partial) of scam awards - and also glad I checked, as I was considering entering my own book. I saw the ad for the International Book Awards yesterday, displayed prominently at the top of my daily newsletter from Publisher's Lunch. I wonder if they realize this award is non on the up-and-up?

Anonymous said...

"Awards are like hemorrhoids. Sooner or later every a**hole gets one." --Francois Ozon

MOV said...

great info. thanks for this.

best,
MOV

R.E. Donald said...

I'm a finalist in the mystery category for the 2012 Global Ebook Awards. The reason I 'nominated' my novel Ice on the Grapevine was that Dan offered a six segment 'course' in promoting self pinned books for the fee.

I soon realized that most people don't realize that it's less than prestigious and it gave me an excuse to send out press releases. I'm sure I've got more than my initial investment's worth in PR and knowledge. I'm even going to Santa Barbara for a fun weekend with my sister and win or not I'll take photos to use for PR when I get home. e.g. me with Dan Poynter, holding a print copy of my novel.

I intend to take full advantage, which it seems last years 'nominees' didn't. But then, I have a marketing background as well.

So it worked for me.

Anonymous said...

Anyone know anything about the Los Angeles Book Festival Contest??

Chazda said...

I've always thought that $50 or so was a fair Reader's Fee when submitting to a contest - one that looks good and brings some prestige. ?? I honestly don't know where anyone would be able to find professional readers willing to pick up extra material for free. They'll only do it if they get paid. So I have to wonder who it is that might be reading my entry if there's no reading fee whatsoever.

Tod Todd said...

I looked into Jenkins group after publishing 444 The Key to the Island. I wanted more info on their marketing options. When a CA rep called me I asked him if he would provide some referrals of satisfied customers who used their marketing. I never heard from him again. I had already signed up for the IP book awards, so we'll see next year how that pans out, but I fear it might just be another money maker for them. After all, they also have several other award options, all of which cost at least $75 to enter. I have to ask myself, "Why does one company need to run 4 different award programs each year?"

Maia said...

I have yet to actually speak to/ read a story of someone who *verifiably* can say that they had a good experience with a contest. Sorry-- I don't mean to accuse anyone of making false statements about how they found some contests to be worthwhile-- but let's get real. Anyone can post anything on the web. It really seems that there are better ways to spend both time and energy than "contest-chasing", as someone else wrote.

Will Lutwick said...

Any opinion on "The Big Moose" prize for unpublished novels? The winner gets $1000, 10 free books and a book publication contract with the sponsor (Black Lawrence Press), but the details of the publishing contract are not on the website. Entry fee is only $25.

Thanks.

Christine Tripp said...

Had never heard of Black Lawrence Press but don't love their mentioning that, while they don't charge a reading fee to the authors (that should go unsaid, no real publishers charge fees) they "appreciate" if the writer buys some copies of their own book...huh? I don't understand the concept of this printing company but I'm not sure a "publishing" contract with them is such a prize!

Victoria Strauss said...

The "Big Moose" guidelines don't offer very much information. Personally, I'd want to make sure that you could refuse publication if you win, or if you enter and publication is offered--this is especially important for a contest where the contract terms aren't clear. I'd suggest writing the publisher to ask.

It's also important to ask yourself, for contests where publication is the prize, whether this is a publisher you'd truly want to be published by.

My other concern is that Black Lawrence seems to funnel the bulk of its submissions through its contests, many of which have an entry fee. This is a de facto reading fee.

Anonymous said...

This is an interesting post on many levels. I came to it trying to make sense of the massive website, Readers' Favorites. Had a feeling it was something that should be passed by. Now, I'm certain.

I would like to say a word or two about contests.

In my genre, mystery thriller, there are half a dozen or so important contests that are run professionally and have relatively small entry fees, around $25. The payout for these is prestige, pure and simple. I can't swear to how many books are bought because they're award winners, but, from what some of my readers have told me, they are at least eye-catching. I've been a finalist in two of these contests and just being able to put that at the top of my Amazon page distinguishes it from others. Kind of like attaching a red balloon to your car in a giant parking lot.

Anonymous said...

I entered the Moonbean Children's Boook centest and I am sorry I paid 100.00 for it. Firstly, they claim to have read and judged 3,650 + I am not sure how many email books in a very short time - about two months. They had no winner list by category and no judges listed. If you have 41 categories, you should have a winner list for each category. You are right, this is just a money-making scheme with no true interest in promoting good books.
Elena Marcus

Anonymous said...

Can you please advise me about this book competition?
http://greenbookfestival.com/
I've self-published a book with a strong environmental message so it would fit one of their categories.
The competition grand prize for the 2014 Green Book Festival winner is a $500 appearance fee and a flight to San Francisco for our gala awards ceremony in May, 2014 OR an equivalent amount donated in your name to the environmental charity of your choice.

Victoria Strauss said...

Anonymous--

The Green Book Festival is one of the published book contest moneymakers. It has all the hallmarks: a high entry fee, scads of categories, judges who aren't named, and no name recognition (unless, as many people have, you've been spammed by it). Its owner, JM Northern Media, runs 19 other contests, all with the same M.O. Somewhat unusually, there's a tangible prize--$500 and a plane ticket (you're responsible for all other expenses). But considering the number of entries these contests collectively rack up, that's likely a drop in the bucket, expensewise.

Renee Paule said...

Thank you so much for this interesting post. I've made up my mind not to enter the competitions I was looking into.

Laraine Anne Barker said...

Thanks so much for this. I was trying to find out how Readers' Favorite award is judged. There was no way I could find this information on their site and I suspected the judging was done by whoever could get the most votes for their book. I'm not into this sort of thing. If the judging isn't done by proper judges (particularly when the fee is fairly hefty) I don't want to know.

Anonymous said...

I entered this contest last month, mailed in my book, did not send an ebook. Then I learned after getting officially entered, that I was 'waiting for a reviewer to pick my book for a free review'.


Well at this time it is May 30, and my book is not yet 'picked up' for a free review, yet I can plunk down more money than the $89 entry fee if I just can't wait, and get a rush review. The interesting thing is there is only one month left before 'finalists are announced".


Here is the problem on that: on the contest page it claims all book entries "are given a rating score based on key literary elements." Well, if in 1 month my book has yet to be reviewed for free, and only one month remains for finalists to be announced, and it takes 2 weeks for a 'rush' review to be done, then how in the world is my book entry going to be fairly given a rating score based on key literary elements if it has never been read?


So it was a surprise to me after paying $89 that my book entry would only be read in time if I buckle down and pay a 'rush fee', but I only have until the first 7 days of June to do so, in order to give that reviewer the 2 weeks turnaround time.


If I don't pay for this rush fee, then I was in effect, tricked because for that entry free given near the end of the contest, my book will not be read by anyone for free in time, and so no way will it get any kind of rating on key literary elements as the contest claim each of the thousands of entries will get.


Maybe those in the first few months will get that rating, but it is highly unethical to entice unsuspecting entrants in the last couple of months whom if they don't have the budget to cave to a 'rush review fee' in addition to the hefty entry fee, will get nothing for that entry, as it seems for certain that key literary elements rating can only come if someone there reads the book. No reviewer, no rating, and a new sucker is born.


I purposefully am posting anonymously so that if Readers Favorite is following this thread, they can't identify my book from my name and then by a 'miracle' my entry in a limbo to be reviewed, is suddenly and timely reviewed.


It had been hidden from me, as far as no where stated on the contest page, that the judging process involved needing one of their book reviews from their author services by one of their volunteer readers, and if none were interested right off or in a timely enough fashion to review your entry for free, well, it just sits unreviewed. That is deceptive practice. Surely, such a thing as this should be stated on the contest entry page so that those too poor to afford more than the entry fee, can decide if they want to gamble $89 and see if their book gets a free review in time or not and given that essential rating of key literary elements necessary to be judged fairly.

Anonymous said...

I just want to say that I added a comment a couple days back that has not been approved yet on Readers Favorite where it looked to me that judging was dependent on getting one of their separate book reviews, and if you didn't get one in time to be judged, you wouldn't get your book properly rated and judged. Today I got a contest email update from them where they specifically said this, "If you do not already have a Readers' Favorite review for the book you entered then you will receive a review for it as part of your Contest Entry. This is free perk and separate from our contest."

So, based on that, I have to say my assumption was inaccurate, and that is a plus for readers favorite I want to add, so this post follows my first post, whenever the moderator comes to look at blog comments. Still staying anonymous so no extra 'perks' come my way to influence my contest entry results. Hope this is also published same time my 1st comment is to be fair to Readers Favorite, especially since both of these I posted before they were published and the blog moderator can see that I am the same 'anonymous' person and not a shill from readers favorite pretending to follow up with a positive 'update' to my first comment, which is yet unpublished now.

Anonymous said...

I am an author trying to think of a way to give my writing more credibility. I am an unknown indie author who thought the title of award-winner might be the impetus needed for potential readers to give my writing a chance. I did some research and choose three contests I qualified for and that sounded legitimate. The New York Book Festival, Readers' Choice, and Writer's Digest. Now I'm reading that they are not legitimate? Of all the contests I researched, none of the fees were $10 or less. They were between $50 and $75. These fees did not seem unreasonable to me. My novels are between 450 and 550 pages and may take several days to read. I can't imagine these judges reading for months on end and not being compensated. I entered both my novels in all three contests with the hopes of placing in one. At this time, two of the contests are still being judged, but I was pleasantly surprised when both of my novels placed in the New York Book Festival competition. I immediately made my way to my Amazon page and proudly listed my Runner-up and Honorable Mention status. But after reading this blog, I don't know whether to be proud or embarrassed.

Jennifer at WriteKidsBooks said...

To the previous poster, who doesn't know whether to be proud or embarrassed - I'd say be proud, in a limited way. :-)
It's great that your book placed in the contest, and that does place you above the rest of the crowd in a lot of ways.
But your best bet for getting attention, for yourself and your books, is to write more excellent books and just keep on getting them out there.
I agree with you; I haven't seen many cheap writing contests, certainly not for $10 or less. But a better bet in future might be joining a writer's association and participating in their contests, as others have suggested.
Congrats on your awards!