Saturday, August 3, 2013

Worthless Input

Part of promoting a book involves book awards. Depending on how you've published, you may have many options for entering these awards. Your publisher may enter the book into the contest and front the fees, or an independent author may have to seek out opportunities and cover the expenses for the entry as part of the cost of marketing. 

These awards can help with exposure, even if the title doesn't win. Sometimes, the awards will provide a review of the book that will attract future readers. 

And then there are the judging/reviews that I get.

I just received feedback from a Book of the Year Award that I'd entered at the beginning of the year. I received high marks for cover, editorial, and content--overall I was pleased--though I didn't win in this particular contest. So I was looking forward to the comments by the professionals that read and ranked my book. At least this way I might be able to learn why my story didn't rank higher, and the cost of entering might be offset with some professional input. But instead I get:

Judge 1: "Probably would have helped to have read the first one." (My title was a sequel). That was it. Nothing more.

Judge 2: "Loved the cover of the book." This judge's ranking averaged to a 9.5 out of 10 in all areas, but offered nothing more as to what the story made them feel or think.

And my favorite: "Really appreciated the justified right margins as it made the fluency much better." What? This judge wasn't assigned to judge the cover and interior formatting, but rather was a story judge. 

Mostly worthless. I will not be supporting this contest in the future, and not because I'm sour that I didn't place as a finalist or winner. Rather, I'm not confident that the criteria or persons involved in the process of selecting winners are at all meaningful. 

Have you ever placed your story into the hands of another author, friend and family member and had them offer completely odd feedback? It truly highlights the value of a competent critique partner. Let me know about your experiences with reviews and contests. I would love to share your valuable input.


  1. That's the problem with those kinds of contests and one of the reasons I don't enter them. The best kind of criticism, criticism that is most paid attention to these days, are book reviews. If people visit the page with the Amazon version of my book they find five good reviews of the novel from honest folks who are readers. Find a good list of reviewers, people who will actually review the book for a free copy, and then let them do their job. Go to and you will find a massive list of legit reviewers who will write a review for a simple e-copy of the book (and that usually doesn't cost anything).

  2. Oh, this was a big, legit book award. I did my due diligence to make sure my award entries are not just a "pay to play" scenario. That is why I was disappointed enough to share my experience.