Friday, May 22, 2009

Contests and Prizes-- The Author's side of the story

I'm very disheartened today. I learned of the existence of reader groups specifically set up for those who want to win author contests. Rumor Control has it they have yahoo groups set up where when they hear about an author contest, they share the info on how to win. For instance, if the author holds a scavenger hunt where entrants must post links to certain excerpts on the author's website, the links will appear in the yahoo group for everyone to use. Then the winner has to share the ebook prize with the group, negating even the author giving out gift certificates. The winner buys the books and still shares with the group.

If we hand out physical prizes, we often end up with huge postal fees far in excess of any money we might earn from royalties. I ended up shipping a $10 teddy bear to the Philipines and paid $30 for the shipping. International shipping is very painfully priced, but if an author doesn't cough up the prize to the non-US winner, the author is seen as stingy (or worse.) The really hard part was that handmade $10 bear, with my hand-embroidered signature, ended up on Ebay less than a week after I got the delivery confirmation. It was listed for $40, and I was so hurt, I didn't even keep up with the bidding after that.

Authors hear this sort of thing and don't want to give out prizes anymore. If the above is true, the "fair and equitable" handing out of gift certificates or ebooks actually hurts us badly. As if those who pirate and participate in file sharing sites weren't harmful enough.

Do they really think I make a living off my writing? I'm blowing the whistle and breaking the "rule" of not saying what I earn. I'm considered moderately successful, and on a good month I can bring in $400, but you can't live on that kind of money. Right now, with my DH out of work, I'm trying to pay the bills with my royalties and failing. Does this sound like I can afford to lose royalties and hand out expensive and unappreciated prizes?

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