Monday, October 1, 2007

Author Sponsored Contests Poll

The upcoming release of my third book, Studs for Hire: Woman in Charge, means that I'm gearing up for a new contest! Yes, that's right, you could be the winner of some great prizes this coming November. But first, I wanted to find out exactly just how much work readers are willing to go to win a prize. Please take the poll on the right. And if you feel compelled to give me more input by posting comments here, that would be fantastic. I'd love to hear what you all think. Are you willing to go the extra mile to enter? If yes, what prompts you to do so? The fun of it? The chance to win something marvelous? And if not, let me know that too. Is your computer time limited? No patience for that kind of stuff? Be honest. Where do you typically hear about contests? Author's web site, friends, review sites, author's e-newsletter? For all of you who post a comment here on my blog, I'll put your name in the hat for a fun Halloween Goodie Bag full of tricks & treats! Don't dally though. The poll closes on October 8, 2007. I can't wait to hear from you!


judy said...

I love all the contests that the authors have. I enjoy the scavenger hunts and questions mostly. I love reading the excerpts for the answers which also lets me know about the books themselves. I enter all that I can. I am not big on the ones sending pictures and stuff, mainly because I am not good with that part of a computer.

Desirée Lee said...

I try to keep my contests fairly simple. To be honest, complicated contests lose my interest quickly.

I think asking readers to answer a question or two about something found in a posted excerpt is not out of line. I've done that one. Posted an excerpt and then asked something like "What did Character X give to Character Y?"

I've also ran contests that had a theme similar to my book. For example, in a contest I ran to promote my story in the Masquerade series, I asked readers to email me the answer to this question: If YOU were going to the Masquerade Ball, what costume would you want to wear? There was no right answer or wrong answer, just fun answers and all respondents' names were put in the hat and the winner drawn at random.

Last month, I ran a contest for my birthday on my blog. I asked for people to share a memorable birthday moment. Again, no right or wrong answer and everyone who participated got a chance to win the prize.

The contests I do not like are the ones that force the readers to buy. I know that we are ultimately trying to sell books but to me it's not fun if I have to shell out money on Author X's book just to get a chance to be a winner. I think contests should be fun and enticing the person to buy the book, not be attached with an obligation to buy the book.

I like the idea of a scavenger hunt too and have participated in some of those in the past. However if the hunted item is too hard to find the game loses its appeal. Another ongoing scavenger hunt I am involved with that isn't writing related, but for one of my other hobbies has a rule that the graphic to find can be no more than two clicks away from the main page. It's nice to have the readers hunt your site (or all the sites if it is multiple authors participating) but some just won't go farther than two or perhaps three clicks.

In the other scavenger hunt I referenced above, I notice a lot of the sites put the graphic that is being hunted on to their newsletter page. Once the reader is there, it is hoped that they sign up for the newsletter too. Never, repeat, never require the readers to sign up for the newsletter in order to be able to find the graphic being hunted.

That's meant for scavenger hunts only. Some authors run newsletter contests that are available only to subscribers of their newsletter. I put that in a totally different category.

I like funny, creative contests. Things like "guess what number I'm thinking of..." to me are kind of brainless and boring. Too arbitrary. Tie the contest in with the book you're promoting so that the readers will remember the BOOK and want to go buy it. Make the readers work a little for the prize, but not too much.

Now if the prize is something fantastic or expensive, if the effort is worth the reward then maybe ask for some more work to be done.

We're authors though. Expensive prizes? Who are we trying to fool? *LOL* "And now to win this FABULOUS box of store-brand macaroni and cheese..."

Just kidding.


Desirée Lee said...

Also, I forgot to put in the above post, I have readers email me the contest answers (unless it is the blog post ones).

I like to do it that way rather than answer on the chat loop if it is a question with a specific right or wrong answer. That way it is fair to all and everyone has a chance to get the right answer instead of just copying what someone else already posted.


Anonymous said...

I hold two type of contests -- reader appreciation contests and the giveaway contests. The reader appreciation contests are held for people who have already bought the book, and the prizes are usually more valuable in money spent. The giveaways are 2 or 3 questions, and all answers can be found on my blog. The reader has to buy nothing, and I consider these promo contests. I think that authors should clarify upfront what type of contests they are running. Nothing ticks me off like a contest which is posted as a give away, when in fact, the reader has to buy the book in order to have her name dropped in the hat.
Also, I suggest making the contest simple. I also enter contests, but as a reader, I feel there are so many contests, it's easier to enter a simple contest rather than a multi-stepped contest.

Sherry James said...

Hey, Judy! Thanks for stopping by. I really appreciate your input, especially about excerpts. It's great to know readers do read them and use them. Your name is in the hat for the prize!!!


Sherry James said...

Des! Wow. What great info! Thanks so much. We share a lot of the same thoughts on contests. It's nice to know other authors feel the same way. I agree, I don't like the contests where you have to buy the book to enter. You are so right, we want to entice, not force. As for the prize itself, I always try to pick an item, beside the book, that ties into the book somehow, yet is fun and cool. I know that's not always easy when you're on a budget. Hey, maybe we should make our characters mac & cheese addicts! ;-)

Your name is in the hat for the drawing. Good Luck!

Sherry James said...

Hi, Gin!
Good idea on the two types of contests. I'll remember this! Des and I both agree with you on the having to buy the book to enter thing. I'd never do that. Major turn off, I think. And these days with our lives so busy and complicated, the simpler the contest the better. Heck, we're not giving away Diamonds! ;-) Yet, I don't think it's asking too much to have readers answer a simple question or two.

Again, thanks for your input. Your name is in the hat! Good Luck.

Phyllis said...

I love to enter contests. I don't mind the scavenger hunts or reading the excerpts to find an answer. But it's also nice sometimes just to type in your name/email address and you're entered. A lot of how much I'm willing to do depends on the prize and how much I want to win it! LOL Also the prize will make a difference in whether it is a contest I will enter or not. If it's a book and I already have it or it's one that doesn't interest me I will not enter the contest(don't want to take someone elses chance to win). But like everyone else I love to win :D

Sherry James said...

Hi, Phyllis! Thanks for your input. It's so great to see readers like excerpts. Your name is in the hat! Thanks for stopping by and GOOD LUCK!


vickyb said...

Scavenger hunts and trivia questions are always fun - unless they're too obscure or difficult to find. I entered one contest with fifty questions - found answers to 49, hunted forever and had family members helping on last one only to find out it was some obscure reference that couldn't be found on the site or the internet. I'll never go to that author's site again. Not only was it frustrating, but it took way too much time. No more than five or ten questions at most.

Questions about the book itself are always fun - providing, again, the answer is available somewhere on the site. (blurb, excerpt, etc.) I've done those for my books.

Sending pictures is a pain and takes too much time.

Name and addy is the simplest, but gets too many hits sometimes. Requiring the entrant to actually do something shows they might actually be interested in the book rather than looking for a quick win.

Just my .02
Vicky B.

Cherie J said...

Simple Scavenger Hunts and finding the answers to questions contests are ones I will enter. Simple name and address ones are great too since they are easy and not time consuming. I don't like entering ones that require you to submit a picture though. My computer time is limited as well as my computer knowledge. Simplicity is the key. I have entered some scavenger hunts and some other contests that it took me hours to find all the answers. Like Vicky, on occasion it has been due to some obscure reference to something. Authors need to keep it simple if they don't want to turn readers off. I have on occasion not to enter contests from a particular site or author because I thought the requirements were ridiculous. If it takes more than an hour to find answers to one contest I won't be back.

Elizabeth Parker said...

I once won a stuffed purple "plot bunny" in an online contest. It caught my interest because I had to write a paragraph essay on an unusual place where I got a book idea. I couldn't believe that the author (Veinglory on Romance Divas) actually mailed me a stuffed animal all wrapped up in a nice box! If a contest captures my interest, I sometimes enter. If they're "same-old same-old," I usually pass.

Sherry James said...

Thanks Vicky for you response. Wow. Answering 50 questions is a lot of work, and then not being able to find the answer to the last one must have been really frustrating. I don't blame you for not wanting to return to that author's site again. Thanks for sharing the positive side of contests as well! I'm making note. And your name is in the hat for the goodie bag!

Sherry James said...

Thanks for responding, Cherie! Sounds like simplicity is the key to contests. I have to agree. I know I don't have the time to devote an hour or more on slim chance I might win. Now if the prize was some serious money, that would be different! ;-) Your name is in the hat!

Sherry James said...

Hey, Elizabeth! Waving madly at you!! Good to see you here! Interesting but simple sounds like what readers want when they are looking to enter contests. Thanks for sharing. Your name is in the hat!

C. Gwynn said...

I enjoy most of the contests authors have. I like scavenger hunts because sometimes it leads me to an author I am not familiar with. I enjoy reading about new authors and what they write. I will sign up for their newsletter too.

I don't care for the ones where the author requests, the story that makes me laugh the hardest wins, the person who has the best pick up line wins, etc. Some of us just aren't that witty. :)

I agree with Des, I don't care for the ones where I have to buy a the book to enter.

I have won books from authors that I haven't read any of their books and became a devoted fan and now buy their books. I feel contests can help promote an author.

Thanks Sherry for this Halloween Goodie Bag Contest.

Sherry James said...

Hey, c.gywnn! I have your name in the hat! Thanks for stopping by. That is so cool that contests have helped you find new authors that you now love and enjoy so much! We authors love to hear when our promotional efforts pay off. It's a tough game where sometimes we're not always sure if all the time, effort, and money is doing us any good. That's why feedback from readers is so valuable. Again, thanks for taking the time to comment!

Amy said...

Hi Sherry! I agree particularly with Desiree and Gin's comments. I typically hear about contests on any of the (eek!) 301 yahoo groups I belong to, or any of the many author newsletters I have joined as a result of said yahoo groups. I am a bookaholic which led to that next slide down the slippery slope -- now I'm a yahooholic as well! I also enter contests on publisher's websites, especially if I am on the site already buying something, or reading about a book I heard about on one of the yahoo groups.

I do have a couple of group/review sites that I do contests from - author island, writerspace. When I think of it I do TRS book-a-day, and about half the time I do ebooklove's weekly contest.

I love books as a prize, and certificates to amazon,, or publisher websites are great! I spend ungodly sums of money on books each month, so IF it is a book I wanted to read, I enter. I never enter contests for books I own, or don't think I'd enjoy, or for items I don't want to own. Jewelry and bath/body scents are individual taste, especially.

I'm willing to go the extra mile - if the prize(s) are worth it. Example being The Raven's multi-author contests, Romance Junkies or Joyfully Reviewed left behind for RT. I find scavenger hunts to be fun, and I do like them to be challenging and lots of questions leading me many places. However, I do not like, and rarely enter, a contest for one ebook download that requires me to answer 10-20 questions, especially if it is an author I am not familiar with.

Sometimes, I'll enter blog contests as much to voice my opinion on an interesting topic as for the prize! I do, though, love it when the author emails the winner, or at least posts messages on a loop saying "don't forget to come see who won my contest on ..." to jog my memory to look if I have entered that contest. I use firefox, and at any given time have, spread over5-10 windows, 100 tabs or more. I plain old forget, or don't take the time to look at each of them daily! I have won prizes that have been forfeit from not remembering to go back and check on the announcement of the winner until months later. With all the yahoo groups I do, I DON'T do any blogs regularly.

That's at least a nickel's worth of opinion on that topic!

Sherry James said...


Hey, thanks so much for stopping by and offering so much info. Very, very helpful! Wow. Over 300 Yahoo groups. That's amazing. I can barely keep up with about 23. You rock girl! I've got your name in the hat. Good Luck!