The Voting Game (this is not a political post!)

I’m on a couple different writer’s loops and every once in a while, someone will post, asking everyone to vote for their book, their friend’s book, their cover, “like” their author’s profile at Amazon (that one went on so long, I was tearing my hair out), etc. etc. etc. There is always some competition going on somewhere.

My first reaction? ANNOYANCE. Because they aren’t merely informing you a contest is going on they’re a part of, they actually tell you to vote for them.

What happened to having a sense of ethics? Of integrity? I wouldn’t want anyone voting on my behalf for anything unless they sincerely thought I deserved the vote. I’m kind of surprised this kind of stumping is allowed on the loops. Am I the only one who finds it offensive?

Everyone likes to win, even when there’s not much involved. Well, almost everyone. I’m competitive, but some things are not worth competing for. The cover ofย Phoenix Rising is in a contest over at Elise Rolle’s blog. I’d give you the link but I can never find anything on her site. Too complex, too much going on. I can’t even find an email link to send her a request for a review. I love the cover but I know it won’t win and I don’t really care except on behalf of the artist, because that’s what a cover contest is about anyway: the artist. But Anne Caine is really good and she’ll probably win for some cover. In the meantime, I hope only those who really think that cover deserves to win votes for it. And no, I didn’t say a thing about it and as you read this, that contest is probably over and I’m good with that.

What kind of contest would mean something to me? Something with ‘best’ in it. Best book of 2012. Yeah, that would make me smile, especially if it was reader-voted. Otherwise, all these contests are a lot like award shows in Hollywood; it’s just people patting each other on the back, and I secretly think they are all popularity contests anyway, coming down to how many of your friends you can talk into voting for you.

Basically, competitions exist to bring attention to the product you wish to sell. It’s just another gimmick. I always hoped my books would sell because they’re good, they entertain, they make someone happy during the time it takes them to read it.

When someone goes to the loop to pimp a contest, I delete that post instantly. If you want my vote, don’t tell me to give it to you. Simply offer information about the contest and let me make up my own mind. I’m certainly not going to vote on something I haven’t read just because I like you! And I wouldn’t expect you to do that for me, either.


About Fenraven

Fenraven happily lives in south Florida, where it is really hot most of the year. Find him on Twitter, Google +, and Facebook by searching on 'fenraven'.
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13 Responses to The Voting Game (this is not a political post!)

  1. They’re pretty much online popularity contests. I guess my thoughts on it are about the same as my thoughts about getting on a crowded bus downtown: if I try and be nice and play by the rules I’m not going to get a seat or get on at all. If you’re going to enter those kinds of contests, you have to solicit people to vote for you, because whoever wins isn’t winning because they’re the best, but because they have the most friends. That said, I don’t enter those kinds of contests, as I don’t really see the point.

    • Well said, and that’s definitely my attitude, as well. When you get right down to it, what’s going on in publishing is disillusioning as hell. The business appears to be as corrupt and manipulating as many others. For sure, it’s venal. I just read on a blog that J K Rowling’s publisher has priced her new ebook at $18. I was floored. That woman has more money than royalty. This would have been a perfect opportunity to set a new standard in ebook pricing by offering it at a reasonable price, and by reasonable, I mean around $5. Instead, they went for the money.

      Guess which book I won’t be buying?

      • I was reading the Ellora’s Cave submissions, and in there, they’re all, “And by the way, can you edit it for us?” They’re still taking a slice, and I need to do the leg-work to find beta-readers, etc. Disillusioning is an excellent word for it.

        Have you been following the price-fixing scandal? I know a few companies got in trouble for it. They’ll charge what people will pay though, and let’s face it, the world is waiting with bated breath for that book, either for her to fail of succeed (I don’t care much for Potter, but I hope she does well). At that price point though, I bet a lot of people will feel not-so-guilty about pirating it when it comes out.

        • I remember the days when editors were prized and paid well because they did their job well. These days, editors are poorly paid (so much so you can’t live on it anymore). Think about it: If you pay editors by the word, doesn’t it follow that many will not cut when required because it lessens their pay? Incredibly stupid, if you ask me.

          I have followed the price-fixing case, though not closely. I’m hoping someone, somewhere, will see the importance of pricing an ebook below what you’d pay for a paperback. It only makes sense, and it would go a long way toward cutting book piracy.

          • That’s bizarre. Determining what doesn’t belong in a novel is editing, and you should be paid for the word count of the piece you’re given, not the piece you return.

            Part of the problem is people think all e-books should be like a dollar, and with the Big 6, they have a lot of overhead costs for every book, regardless of how it’s published.

            I understand paying 7 for a new book (for more academic works, 12). It’s crazy when the e-book costs more, or you’re charging the same amount for the Dune e-book as a brand new book (this is the reason why I don’t have the entire series on my Kindle).

            Publishing is going through changes though, so who knows what will end up happening.

          • I think editors deserve to make a living. The job is vital to the success of the book; if a title is poorly edited, that casts a shadow on the publisher and the writer. Good editors should be treasured. Instead, the attitude seems to be, “Not happy? Go away then. We can replace you.” One of my publishers wanted me to teach authors how to write. Seriously? Not my job, and for what I was being paid, definitely not my job!

            My idea is editors be given a modest salary. That way, they will edit well. I was never influenced by the word count thing, but I saw where it could easily happen and I suspect it did.

            I take pride in my edits. I think most editors do, but when you’re denigrating the skills and keen eye they bring to a manuscript by paying them so meagerly, you are almost assured 1) burn out, and 2) eventually, a less than stellar job.

            I admit I’m looking for another job. I need to eat, same as anyone, and working 10-12 hours a day and not making a living wage is ridiculous.

  2. AJ Rose says:

    I’m less vehement about those contest things than you are because I understand they lead to exposure and it’s a very competitive market out there. To get noticed takes effort and I won’t begrudge anyone their effort at promotion. It’s hard work and most writers are introverted, so it’s hard to drum up the sales pitch anyway.

    That said, I sometimes think about participating in those things only to realize it makes me feel like a snake-oil salesman. I can tell the difference between my introverted nature being challenged in the form of saying something about my new book being out and perhaps they’d take a gander to see if it interests them, and feeling like I’m cheating. Those likes and votes and requests for being put on a list somewhere feels like cheating. If I ever get put on a list somewhere for anything, then I would rather know it’s because someone thought my story/cover/what-have-you had merit, not because I asked them to put it there.

    • W. Lotus says:

      I feel the same way (about photography contests). I am not vehemently against them, and I don’t delete such posts on sight, but I have no interest in entering that sort of contest, anymore. I entered a few in the past and quickly realized I do not have the patience to regularly remind people I need more votes than anyone else in order to “win”. First of all, I don’t know that many people, because I go for quality of connections, not quantity. I’d rather win a contest because of the quality of my work.

      • Same here. *sigh* So I will likely not ever win a contest because I tend to shy away from them. And I refuse to ask friends to vote for me because that strikes me as very wrong. Hell, most of the time, I don’t even tell anyone I’m entered in anything. In fact, most of the time, I’m unaware that I am. Heh.

        • W. Lotus says:

          I’ve come to the conclusion regular marketing is more effective, anyway. At least in the sense that I don’t feel like I’ve sold my soul to the devil. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Like most authors, I despise promo. I don’t want to be out there exhorting people to buy my book. You put it correctly: snake-oil salesman. More, it simply comes down to me not being a salesman. I hate pitching product, even when it’s my own.

      I do the bare minimum of promo for my books and even that makes me uncomfortable. I always thought publishers should be doing that work, ya know? Earn that high cut they take from our sales. When I found out their efforts were as minimal as mine, I turned to self-publishing.

  3. A.M.B. says:

    It’s not my nature to participate in self-aggrandizing endeavors, but, Iike AJ, I don’t judge others for doing it. Self-published authors must take every opportunity to promote their work, and even traditionally-published authors need to do it when publishing houses leave them high and dry. It must be very hard for introverted folks. Can you imagine if JD Salinger were debuting his work in today’s publishing world? No one would ever hear of “Catcher in the Rye.” As a reader, I do occasionally find books to read from online popularity contests. While I probably wouldn’t exercise my vote in those contests, I might click on the link to Amazon and purchase the book.

    • I’m no introvert. Just ask AJ. ๐Ÿ™‚ But I dislike pimping myself, because that’s how it feels to me: that I’m selling myself. It makes me uncomfortable, but I do it to some degree in the hopes of selling the books.

      While ebook publishing afforded many writers fresh opportunity to be heard, it also gave people who shouldn’t be writing a chance to put their books out there, too.

      It’s very hard these days for well-written, well-told stories to find their readers when there’s so much garbage in the way. Look at the phenomenal success of 50 Shades of Vomit. It was horribly written and it still sold like a house on fire, and why? Because the writer had connections in the business and for some reason, the book(s) struck a nerve.

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