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I came across this rant, earlier this evening, and it got me thinking.

I had to sit and ruminate about this for a while, to make sure that what I wrote, was really how I felt. I am not going to talk about how some of the things that were written were totally incorrect, that would be another rant altogether.

It starts like this:

“Recently a reader emailed me a link to a site where another author is doing a contest for the ever popular Scarlet Boa. The reader was a little shocked… a little surprised. She asked… “Did you see this? Is this okay to do that?” She and a couple of friends had been talking about it and they wanted to know if it was… okay…

Nope, I hadn’t seen it. I usually don’t spend much time on websites unless I’m haunting it looking for my latest fix… ie: SL Viehl, JD Robb, Anne Bishop… ~Lora, Jaci, Mary Wine… well, I don’t haunt them. I NAG them and they give in to me and let me have the book early just to shut me up.

So no, I hadn’t seen it. IT being a contest. A contest to have readers scouring the Scarlet Boa until they found this particular author’s entry.Those who enter the contest have a chance at winning a pretty decent prize.”Okay? As in… is it okay for you to enter?” I asked her.

Her response was “F***, no…I’m choosing the one I like the best. But can she DO that?”Ahhhhh… THAT kind of okay. I see. My opinion… nope, it’s not okay. And here is where I get pissy.

This isn’t a prize in my opinion. And before anybody gets offended… IN MY OPINION.This is a bribe. Something to make you look more favorably upon her entry, and ignore all the hard work that others put into their entries.”

To be fair, the author in question didn’t actually ask for her fans to vote for her, but even if she had, would that have been a bad thing to do? Is it truly wrong that authors ask their fans to vote for them? Especially relatively unknown authors?

Gaining recognition for your writing, much like any other art form, wholly depends on people being exposed to your work. You could be the best thing since sliced bread, but if nobody reads what you write, how are people going to know?

What would I do if I was an author who was just starting out, but had managed to gain a small legion of fans who really appreciated my work? Would I play nice, sit tight, and expect Big Publisher to come knocking at my door because I was so f*cking great that they couldn’t possibly help but know how utterly fabulous I was?

My name’s not Dorothy, and I’m not from Kansas.

The post goes on:

“So how is this not a bribe? Can you find a way to make me see otherwise? So far, granted, she isn’t telling you that you have to vote for her to win. But lets face it. Be honest. Most people will want to vote for the lady that just might give us a prize~it’s human nature.”

Apart from the fact that the author wouldn’t know who’d voted for her and who hadn’t, I think calling it a bribe, seems a tad melodramatic.

That line about voting for the person who may give us the prize? Crock of shit. They’ll vote because they like the author, pure and simple, the winning a prize bit, is a happy bonus.

That’s generally the way loyal fans operate, even those amongst us who wouldn’t want to own up to such utterly disgraceful behaviour. I can pretty much guarantee that some of the blogger’s own fans probably behave in a similar fashion.

Did the fan vote for the author because her entry was the best there? Wrong question, the right question would be, did they have a vested interest in any other author who had entered the competition? You may not like it, but there it is.

“But what about all the other authors that worked hard to enter? The unpublished ones who can’t afford a website to promote and show off and ask you to go look for their work? And there are some pretty darn good excerpts.”

Ummm, do you know what I say to that? I say tough titties.

You may argue that it’s unfair to unpublished Writer A, who doesn’t have the same (or any) fan base as Published Author B. My question would be… what’s your point? Whose problem is that exactly?

Are you trying to tell me that Author B, should give a rat’s arse about writer A’s struggles? Hmmm… not sure that’s how life works.

What some of the comments don’t take into consideration, is that once upon a time, Published Author B, was once an unpublished author like Writer A, but through, probably, a lot of hard work and effort, managed to get contracted. One can assume that she got the contract on her own merit, and without the aid of loyal fans.

“What about the ones that are in her group that worked so damned hard on their entries… all that hard work, now some of them may feel they don’t even have a chance. And why?

Because here is a published author who really ought to have some more professionalism parading a contest in front of readers solely to draw attention to her entry.

And let me tell you honey… there’s apparently a few of them that are not impressed with this contest. How else do you think *I* found out about it?”

The funny thing about this, is that last year, I clearly remember an un-pubbed writer, actually begging for votes also. It didn’t occur to me to have a problem with it at all. In fact I voted for her. Do you know why? Because I didn’t give a toss about anybody else who’d entered, that’s why. So sue me.

If you don’t blow your own trumpet, who the hell is going to do it for you? Besides, just because somebody tells you to do something, doesn’t mean you have to. Readers have brains too. This is the internet after all, nobody would know if you didn’t actually vote for them.

“What about the published authors who entered and have a wonderful following but did nothing to promote it? There’s quite a few published authors in there. I know. I’m one of them. Yet I haven’t gone and posted merrily away… HEY GO LOOK AT ME…”

Ermm… Surely that was this author’s perogative to not promote herself? She could have done so if she wanted to, or is this about playing nice again?

“So tell me… whatever happened to merit? You know, when you enter a contest and you win because you were the best? Not because you offered a bunch of people a chance to win something. A lot of us can do that. The difference is… some of us want to win because we deserve it. Not because we bribed people into it.”

Show me an author who hasn’t ever used the goodwill of their fans to promote themselves, and I’ll show you an author who probably hasn’t sold many books. Unless of course they were divinely blessed.

“As a side note~I’m aware of the fact that some people will take offense. Well, as I stated… MY OPINION…take offense all you want. But this is a contest that’s supposed to let the best writer win.”

Erm… Hello? Does the best film always win at the Oscars? Or is it the films with the most money and hype that usually end up being nominated in the first place?

I’m not saying it’s right or wrong, I’m just saying that all’s fair in love and war. And let’s face it, the world as we know it, wasn’t built on people always doing the politically correct thing. If it was, we’d all be polyester-wearing, tree-hugging vegetarians by now.

If you have an advantage over somebody else, the politically correct thing to do, seems to be to play fair, don’t rock the boat, be nice. I hate to say it, but that’s such a female way of thinking. I don’t agree with that thought process at all.

I say, do what you have to do as long as you don’t hurt anybody else, and no, I’m not talking about hurt feelings here, cuz some people are so hypersensitive, you’d offend them by breathing the same air.

I suspect that the real problem with the contest isn’t people trying to gain, what may be considered to be an unfair advantage, but rather the way the actual competition is structured.

I talked a while ago about the bitchiness within the romance industry. In my opinion, this perfectly illustrates my point. The blogger may not have intended to come across as bitchy, but in my opinion, if it looks like a tomato, and tastes like a tomato, that’s exactly what it is. A tomato…


  • Rosie
    October 6
    3:58 am

    Karen, I went to the link and made a post there. I’m not a writer sweating to get my stuff published and read and out there, so I can’t actually say I know how that feels.

    However, as a reader I know that any prize to vote in a contest doesn’t influence me at all.

    I spend tons of time and money on books and an offer of a prize for me to go vote for a writer in a contest wouldn’t be an inticement.

    If I can be “arsed” as you say, at the time I will go vote…check out the contest. If I’m busy or uninterested, which is usually the case, I don’t.

    Much ado I think…


  • Sam
    October 6
    6:26 am

    Just to answer your title question – no, I don’t think it’s bad. But it’s not a literary prize – it’s a popularity contest.
    There is enough room for everyone in the world of writing – no need to throw tomatos. And often authors with huge fan bases are authors worth reading, so it’s another way for readers to find a new, good book!


  • Sarah McCarty
    October 6
    6:50 am

    *laughing* You really did give this blog time! I agree with Rosie. Much to do about nothing. The original poster’s reasoning is so simplistic and the leap from the structure of the contest to bribe so illogical that I initially assumed this was one of those posts designed to create controversy in order to generate traffic. I have since been corrected in that assumption.

    However, among the excellent points in your post, there was an interesting turn of speech that caught my attention. Is the tomatoe analogy your own or a Brit version? We always use duck in that partcular analogy. Drives my daughter nuts when she tries to put one over on me and I just look at her and say, “If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck…” Right about there she knows she’s lost the persuasive end of the argument. She just throws up her hands, orders me to stop talking about ducks and stomps away.

    And I smile. So is it ducks in the US and tomatoes in the UK?


  • Anonymous
    October 6
    7:33 am

    I can’t say I see anything wrong with authors vying for votes from their fans.

    I lurk on lots of author lists, and I can’t tell you the number of times, I get posts telling me to go out and buy their books. It doesn’t bother me. To me, this is no different.
    I think authors pretty much have the right to do what they can to promote themselves. Its cold, hard world out there, if you’re a writer.

    Not so long ago, MJ Rose, published, successful author, did a vidlit of the Halo Effect, and she got lot’s of bloggers to link to it, by promising to give money to charity or something.
    I thought it was a great marketing ploy personally, and it seemed to work, because lots of bloggers linked to it, including you Karen, as I recall.

    You are so right, ALL authors use the support of their fans, in one way or another to help create buzz and hype. I don’t think there’s a damn thing wrong with doing that.


  • Jaynie R
    October 6
    10:16 am

    ROFLAO – game, set, match.

    I knew you would get on this. Tough titties – sheesh woman, ya can tell you’re not an aspiring author.


  • Anne
    October 6
    12:21 pm

    As an avid follower of your blog I must say Karen, that this was well done! Bravo!!! I had to laugh out loud at the “tough titties” part. LOL Very funny, yet true. That seems to be the philosophy amongst those who are striving to be more than just an author, but rather those who are striving to be the most well-known author and well-received author.

    BUT, I have to say this… the authors out there can do what they want to do to try and gain their fan base, but if they don’t have the talent or their style doesn’t appeal to the masses, they’re not going to be that popular anyway!

    And the author in question already has her fan base and quite a large one if her Yahoo group is any example. She’s got 700 members! I’m not sure what her sales are, but I sure they are pretty far up there because she’s one of the writers who when she is writing a book, people eagerly await its release and ALWAYS are clammering for more. She’s an auto buy for most.

    This was not a popularity contest on the part of said author. This was not a “vote for me” on the part of said author which can be proven by the fact that all she asked of the readers was for them to go through the 160 entries and find hers, then email to her the correct entry number, and they would be entered in her contest. She did NOT say… VOTE FOR ME, I’M NUMBER### as some other authors did. In fact, some authors who have Yahoo groups even sent out special notices for this purpose. Not said author. She just wanted to have some fun and see if people could and would recognize her voice which some did even though it took lots of time and work to do so. Anyone else HATE those pop ups?? UGH! Try doing THAT 160 times!


  • Melani Blazer
    October 6
    1:02 pm

    The funny thing about this, is that last year, I clearly remember an un-pubbed writer, actually begging for votes also. It didn’t occur to me to have a problem with it at all. In fact I voted for her. Do you know why? Because I didn’t give a toss about anybody else who’d entered, that’s why. So sue me.

    So the question rises then, why should an author, pubbed or unpubbed, work hard on an entry for a contest such as this in this debate, if everyone has the attitude that they’ll vote for the person who crows the loudest? As Sam said, it really does turn it from a literary contest to a popularity contest. That, I believe, was the whole reason for the post you used as basis for your blog.

    Does it really matter, who, how, why or to what extent one solicits votes in this case? There’s no guarantee in this particular contest the results will truly be fair because too many people are influenced by friends or favorite authors, etc.


  • Desiree Erotique
    October 6
    1:57 pm

    Eh lordy.
    I don’t about this Scarlet Boa thing (have never entered it or know many details), but I’m going to fess up and say Yes, I’ve told my readers about polls and prayed someone would nominate or vote for me. It is kind of pitiful. On the other hand, honestly, isn’t it pitful that there are some writers who devote time trying to scour any hints of possible misconduct about fellow authors?
    Be danged nice if there were more highly promoted polls/awards for solely the aspiring author. Aspiring as in NEVER EVER PUBLISHED BEFORE, IN ANY FORMAT, UNDER ANY NAME OR PEN NAME, BY ANY PUBLISHER ON THIS PLANET OR ANY OTHER. That would help alleviate much of the zealot “Vote For Me” syndrome -even if the suffering patient be yours truly, or MJ Rose.


  • Eve Vaughn
    October 6
    4:28 pm

    Karen you are too much. ROTFLMAO. I sure did miss you when you were in Florida.

    As for the begging for votes thing, to me it’s just another form of promotion. Some people send promo’s to groups, some people have contests, some people try to win contests. It’s all the same, with the end goal being to get exposure and to sell books.

    Perhaps the author of the rant is trying to take the high road, but to me it seems as though she’s doing the exact thing she’s ranting against. Notice how she says that she casually brings up the fact that she’s in the contest. If she wasn’t trying to solicit votes why mention it? Let your work speak for itself.

    Something to think about.


  • Sam
    October 7
    7:33 am

    You know, I didn’t realize the contest was supposed to be totally anonymous with just numbers to vote for. That means (to me) that everyone should have an equal chance.
    Authors who make contests out of a contest they enter for their fans are using the said contest for their own means and no matter how prettily they put it, it’s not right. There are unpublished writers there, people with no websites, fan bases, or contests to offer.
    So sorry – I rescind my first comment and say that in this particular case it’s not good. The organizers of the Red Boa have tried to make a contest where everyone has a fair shake. If you enter it, you shoud abide by the rules and by the spirit of the rules.


  • Shiloh Walker
    October 7
    8:14 am

    :OP begging…. nooooo… not me… I think maybe the begging would entail groveling. I’d hate to think I’ve groveled.

    I DID mention my entry though~I won’t deny that. Can’t deny it. It’s the truth. It also occurred to me later though, it was in the second round of voting, I think…which I didn’t make *G* how many unpubbed authors entered. One of them was a friend of mine. Me mentioning my entry where she also had one~that wasn’t fair to her. Hindsight is twenty. But it’s also why I haven’t mentioned mine this year. Of course, she also finalled… I didn’t. 😉

    I have a lot of issues with fairness~I can’t help it. It’s how I see things. No, I don’t spend my life stomping around whining about things, going that’s not fair~there are things in life that aren’t.

    But does that mean we always ignore it when we see it? I don’t think so. Sometimes, you can’t do anything about it. Like the fact that I still can’t find a pair of knee high black boots that will fit me~unless I shop off the internet and I HATE buying clothes off the web.

    There are times though when you see something, hear something, and you feel you ought to say something.

    And I’m not overly concerned if it came across as bitchy~it was on breakfast bitches after all. And anybody that knows me can telll you that I can be one hell of a bitch.


  • Karen Scott
    October 7
    8:24 am

    Rosie, I must admit when it comes to reader competitions, I never bother entering. Too much effort. If it’s something that requires more effort than me finding my credit card, I don’t do it. When I was new to EC, I used to go on their list and answer questions on List-Mom days, never won anything, so stopped enetering.

    If I’m honest, as with most comps that involve draws, I think the winners are usually strategically chosen anyway. *g*

    Sam, even the literary comps aren’t on the level as far as I’m concerned. The books that are usually chosen are ones that have had hype surrounding them. The bookies usually place odds on the likliest winners before hand. So I’m just not convinced.

    Sarah, we use the duck analogy too over here, I’m not sure if the tomatoes one is mine, or if I’ve picked it up from somewhere. I usually just write what comes to mind. I’m the worst one for purposely misquoting analogies constantly *g*

    Anonymous, I pretty much agree with you. I think MJ Rose’s marketing ploy with the Halo Effect was pretty amazing, even if the book was distinctly average.

    Lol! Jaynie, you know how much I love hearing the sound of my own keyboard! Aspiring author? Hardly!

    Anne, for me, even if the author had asked for votes, it wouldn’t have bothered me whatsoever.

    Mel, I didn’t vote for the person who crowed the loudest, I voted for the person who I had the most connection with. Prior to that, the contest certainly hadn’t interested me enough to even bother reading the stories, so regardless of whether or not I was fair enough to vote for the best entry. As I recall, none of the stories struck any particular notes with me anyway, so my choice of voting for this unpubbed author was made much easier.

    As for the question of these competitions beig reduced to popularity contests, are you telling me that every year, the RITA’s go to the most deserving? I think not.
    Nora Roberts won the Romantic Suspense category three years in a row at one point, are you telling me that there weren’t any other better entries than hers? Now that kind of thinking would be truly naive. Politics unfortunately rules the world.

    I can point to all kinds of writing and publishing contests that are totally laughable, not least being the Editors and Preditors Poll. What utter nonsense that whole competition proves to be year after year.

    Des, I agree, what’s the point of having a competition where published and unpublished authors compete against each other, it’s obvious that the pubbed authors are gonna have upper hand.

    Eve, it is just another form of promo. Even the people who argue against this will at one time or another have asked their fans to vote for them, buy their book, or offered competitions that ensured more people read their stories. It’s all much of the same much ness to me.

    Sam, unlike some other authors, the writer in question didn’t actually tell her readers what her entry number was, the purpose was to go through the entries, and see if they could recognise her writing style. Just good promo, and also it sent more people to Stella’s website, than there would have been originally, which after all is the purpose of the competition in the first place. No matter how nicely it’s organised, this contest is a marketing ploy just like any other contest.


  • Karen Scott
    October 7
    10:07 am

    Shi, I really don’t think it’s a question of fairness, I think it’s about doing the best for yourself in your chosen career. I could trawl through the group lists of all the authors who argue that they wouldn’t ever grovel to get more readers, and find examples after examples of them doing exactly that.
    It doesn’t bother me, and never has.

    As for you not mentioning your entry because your friend had her entry in at the same time, to me, that’s the nice-girls-wouldn’t-do-that kind of thinking that has me throwing my hands up in the air in despair.

    Shi, once upon a time, you were an aspiring author too, and you made it, so I’m of the mind that if an unpubbed author is good enough (and lucky enough) then they too will eventually make it, regardless of whether or not, you charitably refrain from promoting your work in deference to them.

    Nobody, not even unpubbed writers should expect an easy ride on the way to their first contract.

    I run a small business, but I certainly wouldn’t expect a big national company to back out of a contract that we were both going for, just because I was much smaller than them. The liklihood is that they would probably win the contract, because they have more resources at their disposal, and they would no doubt use those resources.

    What I certainly wouldn’t do, is to have a woe-is-me attitude about it, because to me, that’s just life.

    People throw out all kinds of platitudes such as ‘If I can’t win fair, I don’t want to win at all’ The thing is, everybody’s version of fairness is different.


  • Karen Scott
    October 7
    11:00 am

    By the way, in MY OPINION, the rant was as personal an attack as you can get.

    I understand bitchy, I really do, but I genuinely feel it was more of a personal attack, than a light hearted bitchfest or even a moralistic tirade, and using the reasoning that it was a bitchfest on the BF site doesn’t wash with me at all.

    I have a long memory when it comes to ‘incidents’ on lists, and I remember a particular incident on the EC list that may have played a motivational part in the attack.

    The words mud and slinging comes to mind.

    Just my opinion of course.


  • Sarah
    October 7
    11:32 am


    The contest in question ends October 15th and a winner chosen. (this info is all available on the author’s website and takes a couple clicks to verify) No one knows what the authors entry number is and won’t know unless they win. Voting starts on the Scarlett Boa contest Oct 16th. There’s just no way anyone capable of logical thought can consider this contest a bribe, or consider it a plea for votes.

    I don’t have a problem with people on a site called Breakfast with the Bitches throwing a bitch fest, I just think it would be nice if bloggers got their facts straight before creating a tempest in a tea pot.


  • Sam
    October 7
    1:17 pm

    I still think using a contest run by someone else as your own contest is not really kosher.
    That said, I don’t know anything about the Scarlet Boa contest and maybe it welcomes that sort of thing.
    (later) I actually went to the website and checked it out but didn’t find any sort of rules for the contest. *shrug* I guess all is fair in love and literature, lol.


  • Sam
    October 7
    1:24 pm

    I agree that it is hard to find a completely unbiased literary prize – I do like to get the winners of the Orange and Booker prizes though. Not exactly a Red Boa, lol.


  • Sarah McCarty
    October 7
    1:35 pm

    They were posted on the entry form. And in the forum announcement. My apologies.

    As the author structured the contest on her entry so it did not interfere with the Scarlett BOA and in fact benefitted everyone entered by making sure all entries in the Scarlett Boa had to be read, I don’t see the issue, but I suspect we’ll disagree on that.


  • Maven
    October 7
    5:07 pm

    Isn’t the point of the contest promotion?
    Promotion of the work, of the Scarlet Boa, of authors and wannabee authors, of the organization that supports it? If the author didn’t promote it to her fans, I’d say she was a schmuck!


  • Karen Scott
    October 7
    5:11 pm

    Oh Maven, I couldn’t have put it better myself *g*


  • Sam
    October 7
    7:02 pm

    Well, I took time out of my busy schedule, (read got off my lazy butt) and went to find out what the fuss was about on the Scarlet Boa. Actually, I think Sarah has a great idea. She didn’t ask for votes. She found a great opportunity to promote. So, Sarah, I actually do agree with you.
    Would you be my promotional manager??? Pretty Please???


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