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Monday, August 1, 2011

"Vote For Me" Contests

Many of us receive messages asking us to "vote for me" for lots of contests. It could include voting for covers, excerpts, reviews, etc. I've done this in the past but not now.

It's very difficult to vote for someone, especially when there are so many authors I know involved in the same contest. How would I pick one over the other? And, what if I really like a different cover, review, excerpt...what should I do?

I realize it's a great promotion tool and gets people to access a website hosting the contest. But, does it boil down to a fair contest or popularity poll/name recognition contest?

I entered one excerpt contest years ago. Another contestant posted her plea for votes on a fairly large yahoo loop before me...and offered an entry for a prize to all who voted for her. All they had to do was vote and tell her they voted. I posted my plea for votes and didn't offer a "prize" entry contest. She came in first, and I came in second.

It this a fair tactic? Offer a "prize" contest entry to those who vote?

Quite honestly, there are so many authors I know that it's too difficult to I don't. In the past I've read the reviews and excerpts, and they're always wonderful. There's just no way to pick someone.

Cover contests are a bit different, but again, I don't vote. I can't say I've not liked any cover (except one of my own!) and would find it hard to pick just one.

How do you handle this? Do readers enjoy these contests? Do other authors enjoy entering these? Let's hear your opinion!

Photos: Flickr: yksin, merwing little deer, andres musta's photostream.


Fran Lee said...

I must's extremely hard to vote for one out of thirty or so authors, all of whom you like and know. I only answer the call to vote if I have read the book, enjoyed it, and I feel it deserves to win. So if anyone sends me a plea to vote, and I e-mail back telling you I voted, it was because your book was great!

Karen said...

I agree with your stand; too many to choose and so I don't vote.

Janice said...

Hard to chose, though I have to admit I will vote for a friend.


Terra Pennington said...

I vote on what I have read or what I like.If it is a cover I pick what I like. If it is a book I vote as to what I have read. If I have not read any of the books I will vote for the author who ask or posted the link.


J.S. Wayne said...

As an author, of course I want the name recognition. And no, I don't mind the idea of offering a prize to people who vote for me in such a contest. Those of a cynical bent will see that as a shameless attempt to curry favor with the readership, but the way I see it, it's a way for me to give something back to the people who read my work and make it worthwhile for me to continue writing.
BUT: I would much rather have someone who has actually read my work vote for me because they genuinely enjoyed it than someone who hasn't and is only voting because there might be something in it for them.
When I receive such requests, I vote for writers whose work I'm familiar with and have enjoyed in the past.

Michelle said...

I only vote on something that I have read and enjoyed or covers etc that I like. I like contests so I don't mind winning or being able to win a prize, but that isn't what causes me to vote. I have received vote for me contests offers, but when I viewed the work in the group being voted on have gone with work that wasn't offering the contest but in my opinion was the better work.

Karen McCullough said...

I hate those contests and refuse to participate. (Okay, I did make an excepttion once for my critique partner.) They remind me of high school popularity contests, and their only real purpose is to drive traffic to a particular website. I don't vote and on a couple of occasions when one of my books has been nominated, I don't go begging for votes either.

Tina Donahue said...

Until I started writing for EC at the end of 2009, I didn't even know these contests existed. When I was up for my first 'Book of the Week' contest, I didn't do anything about it. Just smiled at being nominated. Then I saw post after post from other authors begging for votes. A lot of them won. I thought if they did it, then I probably should ask for votes too. I figure if someone likes my book and wants it to win, they'll vote. If not, they won't. Simple as that. But it is good promo for an author's book and I see no reason not to ask for votes. The politicians do so all the time. :)

Fabian Black said...

It's a difficult one and a matter of personal choice I think. People go with what they're happy with.

I personally only vote for books I have read and enjoyed. I tend not to vote as a favour. I did once very cautiously ask people to 'consider' voting for me when my book was nominated for a reader award, but it didn't rest comfortably with me and I would never do it again. If people really like my book they will vote for it whether I ask or not. I'm not brill at the social networking thing so will never win any poularity contests, lol.

I don't really like it when an author offers prizes in exchange for votes, because there are maybe authors in the same contest who simply cannot afford to dole out prizes and gifts and I personally think that makes it an unfair contest because many folk will vote for a book they haven't read in order to get a freebie.

As a promo tool I often do giveaway drawings and simple contests, but not as a means of getting votes.

best regards,


Anonymous said...

From a readers perspective - One I don't think offering a prize is at all fair. I know if someone I enjoy and belong to their yahoo group or subscribe to their blog and they say hey I'm in this contest vote for me it does make me go check it out. BUT I look at all the entries and if I don't think theirs is the best then I vote for either who I prefer or don't vote at all. So I think it could be a popularity contest but when I vote for someone its because I really like their work not just because I was asked to vote. And I usually only go look at all if I have read at least one of the contest if it is a excerpt, character, or book type voting. Covers I might go look out but something really has to catch my eye to get my vote in this situation.

Cara Marsi said...

I seldom vote in those contests. I have voted in the past for friends, but I don't feel right voting for books I've never read. I don't think it's right to offer a prize for voting. These contests are always popularity contests. I've never had a book in one of these contests so I don't know what I'd do, but I'm never comfortable with self-promotion.

Jane Toombs said...

I feel these comtests are usually won by the author who is on the most lists and posts to them begging people to vote for him or her. I've done it myself. So it's not a true contest as to the quality of the books listed there. All judging is subjective, to some extent, since we're human and tastes vary, but these contests are won by the author who can garner enough votes though begging, pleading and even giveaways. But if you are one of the authors in these contests, it's hard not ask folks to vote. I've made up my mind, though, the next time I'm in one of them, I eill ask people to go and vote for the book they've read that they liked the best. No more begging. And if I vote as a result of someone bringing the contest to my attention,I will vote for a book I've read and liked. If I've read none of them, as often happens, if I've read any of the authros and liked what I read, that's my pick. If I haven't read any of them I won't vote. Jane, who's trying to redeem some principles.

Lee Rowan said...

I don't see anything wrong with the "please vote for me," although I do not vote for any book unless I've read at least an excerpt. How is anyone going to know you're nominated if you don't tell them?

I absolutely despise bribing voters. That's illegal in serious elections, and it's cheating, plain and simple. I would never buy the book of any author who sinks to such a practice, and I wish the people who run contests would disqualify anyone who buys votes. That is not, should not be acceptable. I always make it a point to vote AGAINST anyone who bribes voters.

Turning a contest that is supposed to be about the QUALITY of the STORY into a popularity contest defeats the purpose of the contest. I've read terrible, stupid stories that won because the author made winning into a full-time job. Didn't make the story any better, or the author any more admirable.

Given two books of equal value, of course I'd vote for a friend.

Selena Kitt said...

I figure, none of the contests are actually contests. They're not set up as "fair" with "fair rules." They boil down to nothing more than popularity contests in the end. The only way to make a writing contest fair is to have it done completely blind. No identifying information about the author. That takes a lot of effort and usually no one likes that. ;)

So as an author, I don't look at "contests" like these as "contests." They're just not. I see them as advertising. So offering an incentive to vote, to me, is just another way to advertise. I get my name out there, I give away a product (i.e. a book) to someone who might not have otherwise read it, and I get my name at the top of a list that readers see.

This is a business. Writing is the creative aspect of it, and the fun part. Marketing is not. But it is necessary, and if you decide not to take advantage of every opportunity you can, you're not going to get very far.

I would agree that a "vote for me" giveaway would be wrong IF any of the contests were actually "fair." But they're not. They're set up as popularity contests - so why should a writer treat them as anything else?

mona karel said...

Seems like so much of this business is a popularity contest. Yes, the writing matters, but too often these promotional contests are driven by the enthusiasm of the people asking for votes.

Katalina said...

If I've read the book and love the author, I'll happily vote for them.
But I've clicked on contests where I know three of the authors and all the books were good-so to be fair I don't vote.

jean hart stewart said...

Everything's been said, and I agree with much of it. Too blatant an appeal turns me off, and I vote only for authors I know and respect. Still it's just another tool to get your name out there. I dislike all promo, and wish I didn't have to do it.

Kayelle Allen said...

I agree with Lee and Karen that no one should bribe voters. I know of at least one site that has a yearly contest, and the moderator announces that anyone bribing votes is disqualified.

In a contest judged by skill, such as the EPIC, I feel I have a fair chance of winning. I don't bother with contests where it's a matter of whipping up votes. When I've been nominated I will announce it. Too stunned and proud not to. :)

Fabian, I had to look up "brill" to find out what it meant. Cool word.

Delicious Romance From Cerise DeLand said...

I hate these. I know. Shoot me. But I hate this kind of competition. For myself. For others.
They cannot be based on quality of writing, totally. Impossible! As in: everyone is a critic and there is no accounting for good or bad taste. yada yada.
But the idea that anyone can vote including those who have not read the books destroys me. Why cannot these sites just say, here is a list of the Best Books of the Week? Period?
They want traffic.
The authors get, max, name recognition. Sales? I would doubt it.
Meanwhile, the authors have so darn much else to do to stay alive!
Name recognition I can get from other things.

Liz said...

In this day and age of mass email group loop announcements I find I get so much overlapping pleas for voting I am disinclined to place any votes at all. However, IF I have actually read it and I have a strong positive opinion about a book I will try to place a vote. But it's sorta becoming a "OMG read my blog and win a prize" level of annoying. I personally don't even post more than 3 times a week because there are so many writers with so much to say, there is only so much time in the day to read it all.

Lisa Lane said...

I'll respond to a plea for a vote, as long as I think it's reasonable. If I like the cover/book/video/etc. in question and I don't think there are any competitors that are ridiculously better. I like to support my peers, especially when I think they deserve it.

On the flip side, I've bugged loop and Facebook friends for votes on a couple of contests. I've never asked someone for a vote without ensuring s/he has the chance to read the book first. I will not vote for someone who is simply whoring out his or her name, with no care as to whether people have actually read what they're voting on (although I have in the past).

Similar to your story, one year a competetor was exchanging signed hardbound copies for votes. How does one compete with that? Such bribery (cheating) and similar behaviors really do suck.

On the positive side to these contests, I do feel that winning reader's choice awards have made a big difference in my marketability. Side by side with good reviews, there's no better free PR.

JL Walters said...

Agreed and I don't vote unless I've read a number of the author's books or the one being voted on. I seldom vote and offering a prize for voting doesn't seem right to me.

Liz said...

hahahahahaha! I just got entered into one. Crap. now what?

Julia Rachel Barrett said...

I don't participate on either end. I know many of the authors involved and I don't want to choose one.
I also don't want to ask authors for votes because I know the position I'm putting them in.

Adele Dubois said...

Marianne--I'm so glad you said what I've been thinking for a long time. I stopped voting in these contests several months ago unless I feel the book/cover/whatever deserves to win. Otherwise, the prize is meaningless.

Frankly, I get tired, too, of seeing the same authors blast promo over and over again on all the loops begging for votes. Their wins don't reflect writing quality, necessarily, but persistence.

Glad to get that off my chest! Lol.


Sandy said...

I'm with Jean, I hate anything to do with promo. lol

I have voted for a few people who've asked for my vote. Sometimes, it's not the person who asked who gets my vote.

Marianne Stephens said...

Wow - I didn't expect so many comments and opinions, but I guess I asked a question some people have been thinking about, too.
Thanks to everyone for voicing your stand.

Mara said...

I've just recently voted in 2 if these contests and was offered a possible prize fir one of them. It actually didn't matter because I would have voted for the book anyway.
I'm of a few minds on this: it's great promotion for the author, but the winner might not be the one who should have won. They may have won cuz of their prizes. We'll never know but I know that I won't cite fir a book or cover unless I've read it or seen it.


Molly Daniels said...

When I'm asked to vote for a book and I discover other friend's books on same site, I vote for the book I've read, or liked the best. That's my criteria, and the most fair, imho.

Jacquie Rogers said...

I learned my lesson when an author posted a plea for votes on a list. I voted, but just as I clicked and the vote was cast, I realized I'd just voted against my critique partner! Since then, only books I've read get my votes, and I always read the whole list before choosing.

As for asking for votes, I agree with Selena Kitt--this is a business. Yes, it does help, and yes, I've done it. The bribery part, I only do if I label it as such. The biggest contest I ever won, though, the author who came in second place was offering $5 Amazon gift certificates. I wrote off the contest knowing there was no possible way for my book to win, but it did!!! So I'm not sure bribery works in every situation.

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