Contests for kidlit writers are big draws because they’re an opportunity to break into the business, but I must say to publishers—please stop with the public vote-to-win process.
Publishers may think that open voting ensures that the public’s favorite—and thus, the best book for their audience—will win, but how is that going to happen when the writers are campaigning for votes via social media?
Sure, votes demonstrate the author’s reach and may indicate how well they’ll market a published book, plus it gets more eyeballs on a publisher’s site. But the thing that will really sell a book? A GOOD story.
Writing contests should be chosen by an experienced editorial team, not by Aunt Sue in Schenectady. Because it’s one thing to ask for a writer’s friends and family to click a button and yet another to ask them for cash once the title is released. Just because someone spends two seconds to vote does not mean they’ll spend hard-earned money on the completed book.
Contests that require people to vote once a day for a prolonged period are even more exhausting to the writer and the people who are repeatedly asked to vote. And vote again. Just one more click. Another? Pretty please? It may even cause that writer’s social network to shrink.
And think of the disappointment when the diligent voters learn their time was for naught. Think of the writer’s disappointment having to tell their audience that it was for naught. Will people spend the time voting for that person again? Maybe. But maybe not.
Yep, social media isn’t always so social. And it shouldn’t be exploited.
As a kidlit enthusiast, I want to see good stories published for children to love. The public voting process does not ensure that. Like a Student Council election, it ensures that the most popular person wins. But the most popular isn’t always the most qualified or the most deserving.
In the end, these contests are more about marketing for the publisher than about discovering real talent. And if you have real talent, you should avoid them. Spend your time polishing your manuscript for submission, not campaigning for votes.
I’m sure this post will cause a stir. So please, debate away in the comments. I’m eager to hear your thoughts.