I swear by the gods, if I had no soul I would be rich.
See, as a publisher, I was always under the assumption that I was supposed to pay authors. That authors existed to send me awesome stories to read. And I existed to pay them for said stories when I decided to publish them. Apparently, I HAVE BEEN DOING THIS ALL WRONG!
So, I got some SPAM today from the Eric Hoffer Award Committee to let me know that they were accepting entries. The cost is $60 per entry. Now I have no issue with entry fees per se. I run a small writing contest myself and I recognize the time and effort that goes into running a legitimate contest. But for it to be a legitimate contest, winners need to actually win something. That is the point of a contest. You enter the contest, and you get a chance to win something of actual value.
While they…eh hem…”award” winners, runner-ups, and honorable mentions in dozens of categories, only one, The Hoffer Grand prize, includes actual money ($2,500). So what does everyone else “win?”
You get mentioned on a site called USReviews, which is a review seller site. And you get listed on the award sponsor’s site, the Hoffer Award. And you get some gold stickers to put on your books.
We pause to present you with a little math. Their website acknowledges around 85 “short list” mentions for the Grand Prize. That is JUST for the Grand Prize. We aren’t talking about the total number of submissions sent in. That is just the “short list” of books recognized in that one category. At $60 per entry, that is $5,100. The single grand prize is only $2500.
For comparison purposes, my little tiny writing contest will award around $800 in prizes when everything is paid out. The reading fees did not pay for the prizes, because, silly me, I don’t run my contest as a for-profit money machine. THIS is why I am poor, people!
So who IS Eric Hoffer? According to the website, he was a “great American philosopher” and there is something called the Hoffer Project that exists to preserve his work. And his works are being restored by Hopewell Publications. But Hopewell Publications is apparently either owner of or involved somehow with USReviews, the book review seller site, as they have a big logo and link to that website on their landing page. The entire thing, as far as I can tell, are multiple websites owned by the same person or persons that self-reference each other.
Another shady point: they keep referring to the entries as “nominations.” Now this may sound like splitting hairs, but this is an awards mill trick. By calling the entries “nominations,” they can then encourage entrances to promote the fact that their book was “nominated” for the award. This does two things. First, it feeds the entrant’s ego by letting them claim they are “nominated” for a prize when in reality they just wrote a check and sent a copy of the book to someone. Two, because unsuspecting authors promote their nomination, they advertise the “award’ contest for them.
As I have mentioned in the past, book contests have only marginal value even when they are legitimate. It takes a lot of planning to be able to benefit from winning a book award when the award actually is relevant. Your $60 will get you better results with an AMS ad or a Facebook ad or, if you can get it, a Bookbub promotion. At least all of those things are proven to get at least some results.
But if your ego is so fragile that you desperately need the faux reinforcement of a quasi-valid award contest, just send $25 to me and then you can say you are a nominee in the 2019 Julie Ann Dawson Best of the Best of the Most Awesome Book Awards. Winners will be announced in August. One winner will get half the fees paid. Everyone else will get a digital sticker. And, as an added bonus, no need to send a physical copy of your book. Winner will just be selected using a Ouija Board. What other contest allows you to claim the Spirit Realm awarded your prize!?
Disclosure: I am a judge for the Ben Franklin awards, which is sponsored by the International Book Publishers Association, a not-for-profit industry organization. I did not include links to the websites discussed on purpose.