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Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Contest Mavens--An Author's Secret Weapon

We've all run into them. Readers who seem to enter every free book contest on the internet, leaving short comments to secure an entry and then dashing off, probably in search of the next contest. They do, in fact, win books. Sometimes they win many.

We want people to enter our contests, of course, but what of the serial contest participant—the contest mavens? The ones who enter, but never buy? An author might be tempted to wonder if such readers ever actually purchase any books. We might be tempted to wish them away.

But I want you to welcome them with open arms. They are an author's friend. Here's why.

Even if they show up just in hopes of winning your book, they're still showing up. They leave a comment. Comments add up, even to search engines. But there are other ways contest mavens do authors a favor:

1. They spread the word about the contest. There really ARE folks who will learn about a book during a contest, get their interest piqued and go buy a copy. They're not the contest type—they don't enter, don't like giving away their email address, but enjoy reading new books and are happy to discover them serendipitously—via a random blog post, review, recommendation—or even a contest. So, although your contest maven never buys your book, she may send readers your way. (It's a good idea, in fact, to ask them to.)

2. They are living leads for garnering reviews. This is possibly THE best fringe benefit a contest maven offers.  These readers follow lots of book review sites since they offer the most giveaways. So when they leave a comment (at least on blogger/blogspot) you can click their little profile icon and you'll be taken to their profile page—with all the bookish sites they follow.  This is the secret! They know where lots of book hot spots are! You'll be surprised at all the blogs you've never heard of but which readers congregate at.  Visit the sites, see if your book is a good fit for the reviewer(s) and then query them to arrange a review.

When you query:

·         If they routinely do book giveaways, offer one of yours for said purpose.  

·         Don't query sites that haven't already reviewed books in your genre/age range

·         Be polite and assure reviewers that a review is voluntary, even if they accept your book. This is industry standard, and most of them will go on to review the book if they liked it.

·         Some have their own forms uploaded to the site for queries. Use them if they're available. This saves you the added step of searching for the contact information yourself.

·         Be sure to offer the book in as many forms as possible (Kindle; print; PDF, etc.). If they state their preference in their profile or elsewhere, offer it in the preferred format.

Back to the mavens: Some of these folks are truly strapped for cash and enter contests because it's the only way they can build their library. (Hats off to this set. We're glad you enter our contests!)  And if your contest maven simply loves the thrill of winning something for nothing? Well, there's no law against that. It's okay. It IS fun to win an item.

Of course we run our giveaways in the hope of raising interest for our book. We hope the contest will whet the appetites of some readers who will go on and buy a copy. Writing is a business, after all. Much as we'd like everyone interested in our books to get a free one, we simply can't provide them, and we need book buyers to stay in business. It's okay to remind contest mavens of this now and then, nicely, in a blog post or a comment of your own.

And then thank them for entering your giveaway—even if it is the third book they've won from you. Because by doing the above, you'll garner more reviews, which, in turn, will garner more readers.  (If your book doesn't need more reviews, then you are likely not running contests either and none of this will apply to you.) For those of us who diligently seek more honest reviews, remember the contest maven! 

Linore Rose Burkard wrote a trilogy of genuine regency romances for the Christian market before there were any regencies for the Christian market. Her books opened up the genre in the CBA. She also writes YA Suspense/Apocalyptic fiction as L.R. Burkard. Married with five children, she home-schools her youngest daughter, preferably with coffee in one hand and iPad in the other. Her latest book, PULSE, a tale of  apocalyptic suspense, takes readers into a "chilling possible future for America!" The sequel, RESILIENCE, is now available on Amazon for pre-orders.


  1. I believe I fall under the category of strapped-for-cash contest mavens. But,as you know, I am more than willing to spread the word about books I enjoy.

  2. You are an authors' best friend, Deb! DON'T CHANGE. (Except I would love for you not be strapped for cash. And if you weren't you would still be the supportive cheerleader you are for the authors you read. Like me! Thank you, thank you!) As I said, my hat is off to you! You are one of the most tireless cheerleaders I've met. And bless you for it!

  3. In fact, looks like I got the last line of the column wrong again. It should read, "Thank God for the contest maven!"

  4. Great post! FWIW, I love free books. I love giving away my books, too. And I love reviewers and readers who spread the word. Thanks for the post!

  5. Thanks, Susanne! Yes, all our contests should open with the words, ALL BOOK LOVERS WELCOME!" Thank goodness for readers who like to enter them!. :)


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