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Please note that I am not naming any names because I’m trying to address a general issue. It’s neither about pointing fingers nor embarrassing someone {K: Dammit, has she learned nothing from me!?}. Perhaps naïvely, but I hope what you are about to read may help authors maximize their promotion efforts.

First, allow me to present three different scenarios, all seen around the blogosphere in the past month or so:

Scenario A

A couple of days after I wrote this piece, I happened upon one of the blogs where I won—and never received—a couple of books last year. I have learned since that this is one of the biggest multi-author blogs around. Being intrigued by that, I started following the blog again for a few days. (Yes, I know I have too much free time.)

I read a few of the posts and posted a few comments, etc. and started noticing what I perceived to be a pattern. Some authors would post a contest but not determine an end date, or if they did, said date would come and go without announcement of the winners. Since this was related to the issues I wrote about before, I mulled it over and finally, the light bulb flashed! So I emailed this to the blog admin:

Hi, there.

I posted something about this at (link to post at Karen’s), but I’ve been thinking about it some more. I didn’t share, and won’t, that two of the prizes I never got last year were from authors who still blog at (blog in question). I *did* stop reading the blog for a rather long while after that, though, and only recently came back as a reader and commenter.

Yet I can’t help but notice that—as of (date)—there are two posts with contests (posts in question) to which winners should have been announced but nothing from either the authors themselves, or the blog itself.

When these things happen at an author’s blog, or at readers’ blogs, the potential PR fallout is to those specific author/blogs. In a large multi authors blog like (blog in question), the damage affects the other authors. Fair or not, it’s inevitable.

I’m wondering if perhaps (blog in question) should consider having someone following up on these things and making sure the authors follow through (with announcements and prizes). Or perhaps, have some sort of contest policy stating that only commenters who leave their email can participate and that the winner will be announced privately, or something.

I hope this email is taken in the spirit it is intended: an observation and a suggestion for improvement.

Thank you.

I honestly didn’t expect a reply, but got one. And what I got, I’m sad to say, wasn’t at all what I would have expected:


We’re sorry that you never received your prizes. As to your suggestion on following up on everything, we simply have too many authors doing too many giveaways, and we also don’t think it’s our place to police our authors’ contests. We have shared your note (omitting your name) with all of our authors, though, so hopefully this won’t happen again.

Thank you for visiting (blog in question).

Ooooookay, said I, wondering what exactly a blog administrator does then…

I confess I’m not happy that my email got circulated without asking me—and I know for a fact that at least one author at the blog in question thought I was angry about waiting for winners’ announcements. (Goes to show the message wasn’t taken as intended. Good thing I’m not an author, huh?)

Anyway, I have continued visiting and commenting to this blog because, hey! Lotsa authors, interesting posts, interesting comments and, look over there, contests! for books!!! Which, come to think of it, would be good, right? Having people visiting the blog?

So here I am, checking the blog out, reading, commenting, what have you. And guess what? I notice that, right now as I’m typing this, there are no less than two contests for which winners should have been announced… but haven’t been. And another contest that is open ended—nothing about when it ends or when the winner will be announced.

Scenario B

At another blog, a newbie author was invited to guest blog (in order to promote her new release, of course), so she had a great post with a contest, and a cool conversation ensued with dozens of posts, and then… huh, nothing for five days or so. The blog owner posted a note to the effect that “as soon as (author) picks a winner, I’ll post the name” and then continued with blogging as usual—what else can she do, after all, right?

Scenario C

There’s a blog that posts one or two reviews by an author, then has the author guest blog, often with a contest. However, at least once in a month there was no announcement of the contest winner. I gather that the winner was contacted privately—which could mean people who posted anonymously/aren’t registered with that particular blog service *raising hand to both* probably weren’t entered in the contest (though that wasn’t specified anywhere in the blog); or that winner announcements are only made when no email/registration for the winner is available. Either way, I scratched my head a bit on that one.

Now, let’s see.

Obviously—as I said at least once in my previous post—I understand that life happens to everyone and that authors are people. In many cases, they are people with day jobs, family, and a whole host of other issues. I get it, I promise you I do.

But I wonder if some readers will see these things—particularly if/when it’s a pattern for author X or Z—and since people are people, through association they form a negative opinion of the writer’s product. Because, lest we forget, the entire point of authors blogging (as authors), and chatting, and especially having contests is to promote the products they have for sale: their books.

This got me to thinking that perhaps authors are spreading themselves too thin—contributing regularly to too many places as part of their promotion efforts, while writing; doing edits and/or rewrites; firing off proposals; and dealing with all the other aspects of being published.

And all this on top of everyday, family and, often, day job responsibilities.

In this comment thread over at Dear Author, which is mainly about whether writers should review, a couple of authors mentioned time constraints. The bit that struck me the most in this sense is in this comment by Nora Roberts:

I think a writer’s job is to write. The rest is choice.

As an outsider to the publishing side of writing, I can only speak to what I see from my side of the fence, but I think Ms Roberts makes tremendous sense. Yes, it’s obvious that she—and other writers with big sale numbers, or dozens of books published—are in a different position than Suzie Q Newbie who’s trying to up the numbers for her second release in order to get a new contract for her current manuscript (or something like that, remember, not a writer here, I’m speaking out of… well, you know). Suzie Q Newbie probably doesn’t have a huge promotion budget from the publisher and has to rely on her own efforts—and budget—to improve her chances of being noticed by readers among the hundreds of new books out there.

Still, the underlying principle remains true. Authors have limited time; therefore, they should exercise that choice wisely, in order to maximize the effort to benefit ratio.

As I said at the beginning, I’m not naming names nor places, {K: DAMMIT!} because—again—this is not about individual authors. It’s not about sour grapes, it’s not about anger or bitterness, and it’s not about readers feeling entitled to anything. These are merely observations I’ve made, and my hope is that perhaps one or two authors may gain some insight into a)how some readers perceive these things, and b)more efficient ways to manage their online/blogging promotion time.


  • Mary – No one disagrees with the idea that authors need to keep their word and give out prizes if they say they’re going to. Of course authors should do that. Notify the winner and do it within a reasonable time – I think we all agree that’s the right thing to do as well. Those general principles are not in dispute. The question we’ve been talking about is a much narrower one. It’s whether it matters if that notification happens on a Monday or a Thursday. People have said that the delay in posting a winner is a problem. That was the part that surprised me. I don’t think being late in announcing a winner of a giveaway amounts to being dishonorable or unprofessional. That seems unduly harsh to me. We can agree to see these things differently.


  • Mary
    March 17
    10:32 pm


    You’re right. We’ll have to disagree. It is my belief a person–author or not–should always keep their word. Now I’m not pointing at you personally–I don’t know you from Adam, but if an author said they’d announce a winner on a Monday and don’t, there should be a valid extenuating reason. Forgetting, putting it off, or just ignoring that deadline isn’t good enough. Doing that is unprofessional.

    Everyone makes mistakes, technology can fail (internet goes out), or a problem occurs in a family, but if that happens, those entered in the contest that is effected are owed an apology and an explanation.

    And it shouldn’t happen again. That’s learning from mistakes. If the author learns they can’t choose a single day and keep to it, then they should expand it and give themselves a week…and then keep make sure they keep their word. Don’t break it again. That’s what really is irritating.

    But I’m afraid no amount of reasoning will make me believe that it is okay to say I’ll do one thing and then do another without apology or explanation. Ever. My word and honor are too important to me.

    Now on the other hand, I think it’s only prudent for an author to give a time limit to send out prizes and then not feel guilt if they take every minute of that time to send them out. Give yourself a cushion and use it. Sometimes I get my prizes out immediately, sometimes I don’t. Depends on life at the time, but I make sure it’s within the time limits. Doing this, and keeping my word makes my readers know I always take care of things.

    So, if something doesn’t arrive, they know it isn’t because I’ve blown them off, it’s (like happened last summer when the PO lost 300.00 worth of books and prizes)because something dramatic has happened. They let me know and it’s taken care of immediately.

    Communicating if ANYTHING is going to be different is absolutely necessary. And some of the laws governing contests are pretty inflexible. The last thing I want to do is get in trouble for something to do with when I announce or send my prizes.


  • Mary wrote, “Sorry, but I think it is VERY unprofessional to say you’ll do something and then renege.”

    I can’t agree more. While I’m just not in the position to hold many contests/give-aways I feel it’s the right thing to deliver what you say you will. There were in the past, however, a couple of occasions when involved in a group or Publisher promo giveaway that I attempted to contact the winner of my prize via the address I was given by the event promoter. On these occasions I received no response from the winner. I don’t know if maybe my winner was disappointed they’d been picked to be my winner, lol, or maybe they provided the incorrect contact addy. Hails at the respective group loop failed to get their attention, and repeated emails received no response. When I finally concluded I wasn’t going to get a reply I let the matter go.

    If this is the reason some authors haven’t been able to deliver their word, I can understand. But on all other occasions, we simply need to remember the Golden Rule when it comes to contests and giveaways.

    Anya (Des)


  • You’re right. We’ll have to disagree. It is my belief a person–author or not–should always keep their word.

    Mary, I think you’re being a bit harsh.

    Most of this discussion isn’t about reneging. Most of us have offered commentary about trying to be more flexible (stating sometime during the week of….etc…)or other various solutions.

    But sometimes the things that come up that interfere frankly aren’t anybody’s business but the author. Reading the way you’ve written it, if I don’t post immediately why I didn’t announce a winner on such and such date, then I owe an explanation why- I feel I owe an apology and to get the winners names announced ASAP. Beyond that, it’s my call.

    Nobody is saying it’s okay to announce contests and then blithely let weeks go by with nothing said. That is unacceptable. More, nobody is saying that even the occasional lapse is okay. Most of us agree if you state one thing, you should try to stick to it.

    But from time to time, things *do* happen that interfere and when they do, then the author should, by all means post an apology, wrap things up. But whether or not an explanation is owed is something that should be left up to the author to decide. I had serious medical problems come up a few years ago and several things of mine got delayed. I offered apologies once I return to normal life but explanations? No. It was personal, it was heartbreaking and it concerned nobody but my family and me and even explaining there was a ‘medical’ issue was painful, it was personal and it would have opened me up to 200 questions I wasn’t emotionally equipped to handle. Frankly, discussing it in even the vaguest sense was too painful but your tone implies I should have done just that. That’s not just a bit harsh, it’s judgmental and thoughtless. You may not have intended it to be so, but it’s how your words are coming across. If that is how you intended it…well, I’m wasting my breath, I suspect.

    Some delays happen because of things that are too personal of a nature to even mention, period.

    While I believe I get the general idea behind your comments, your tone is so black and white that unless people agree 100% with you, then they lack honor, integrity and fill-in-the-blank. You’re entitled to think/feel how you want, but the tone in which you deliver them is insulting and it’s actually probably going to hurt this issue rather than help it. I don’t think readers in general want to see contests disappear, but I’d imagine several people are getting a knee-jerk reaction and thinking, well hell…screw that contest idea I was planning.

    Just to make it clear, I tend to keep my ‘official’ announcements vague enough that people don’t feel like they’ve been disappointed or let down if I don’t announce a winner on the dot on the first Tuesday of next month, so please understand I’m not feeling defensive because anything you’ve said has made me feel guilty. I work hard not to let anybody feel like I’ve let them down so please don’t take my comments as something arising out of defensiveness. While I’m not the most organized personality, I don’t think I’ve left anybody hanging or feel disappointed so I have nothing to feel defensive about regarding this subject. But your post most definitely has rubbed me wrong and since I’m pretty much an objective 3rd party, I can’t imagine how it’s going to come off to others who may not be looking at this so objectively.

    While you may not care, again, you’re not doing much good by making people feel insulted. People don’t respond as well to accusations. Calm and thoughtful will get a much better response.

    Basically, these comments are coming from an objective third party here. I’m not a disappointed reader nor am I an author who’s worrying she’s guilty. I’m just somebody that likes to talk. Nor am I trying to pick on you, single you out or anything else.


  • Hey Shiloh, I know you were addressing Mary, but I may have come across as harsh, too, and for that I apologize. I’m sorry to hear of the difficult medical situation and hope all that is over now. When my father lost his arm a couple of years ago it was a rough time for the family and I was behind on all my writing for some time. Yes, it behooves us all to be understanding of one another and show compassion.


  • I’m not trying to sound like a rabid fangirl, b/c I’m definitely not. Hmm. Maybe I should write this to Shiloh. But I know she reads Karen’s blog…

    *G* Rabidly reads.


  • Hey Shiloh, I know you were addressing Mary, but I may have come across as harsh, too, and for that I apologize.

    Nah, you didn’t. Don’t worry and don’t feel like you have to apologize.

    Not every delay is going to come from either a medical deal or a major personal deal. I know that and I don’t want people thinking that every slight delay is because of something major. Sometimes things do just get temporarily misplaced in the wrong brain file. It happens to all of us. Working to prevent it from happening is always a good thing.

    But I also think flexibility is a wise way to handle most things in life.(FYI, I consider flexible a few days…not a week or more, other people’s mileage may vary)

    Some things are wrong… killing is wrong, drunk driving is wrong, stealing, etc..etc… some things are right, being nice to kids, puppies and the less fortunate…

    😉 But many other things in life fall in between. When it comes to those shades of gray, I try to be flexible. But that’s just me.


  • Daggone it… didn’t un-italicize…. oops. Oh well. That last part…

    Some things are wrong… killing is wrong, drunk driving is wrong, stealing, etc..etc… some things are right, being nice to kids, puppies and the less fortunate…

    😉 But many other things in life fall in between. When it comes to those shades of gray, I try to be flexible. But that’s just me.

    shouldn’t be in italics.


  • Shiloh! I think you’ve become my new hero. Seriously, you say what you mean and you say it well. *applause*


  • Shiloh! I think you’ve become my new hero. Seriously, you say what you mean and you say it well. *applause*

    LOL. Shiloh Walker…hero extradorinaire…snicker. Nah, I don’t that works.



  • extradorinaire…

    extraordinaire, even.


  • oh well, misspelled again.I give up. Pray for me guys, I’m going to get my taxes done.


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