I’m going to piss you off with this…

A certain website devoted to helping authors has put out their annual “readers” poll and listed the “winners”.  Let’s talk about this for a second.  Here are the points I’d like to make before somebody starts calling me a kill-joy. On second thought that label would be fair because that’s what I am.  Personally I call it being “realistic”, but then again I’m a writer and I play with words for a living.   But then again that’s what my detractors say and most of them are writers too.  But I digress….here’s the points:

 The site is for AUTHORS, not READERS.

  1. How many readers do you know who bother to respond to a poll?  Most of my readers have no contact with me.  So how would they even know about the poll?
  2. Authors are (myself included) pretty much promotional whores (a.k.a. do whatever they can to promote their books). 
  3. Authors have family, friends, co-workers and other authors (and editors) with the same publisher who want to help out.
  4. I’ve seen NUMEROUS posts on authors & staff’s websites about “please vote for me on the blah-blah-blah poll.”  Not to mention Facebook, MySpace, etc…

Those are the only points I’m currently going to make.  So in the end you must ask yourself this question, “Who is voting for these books?” 

I think you’ve come to the same conclusion I have. 

Awards are nice, good reviews are as well.  But I believe in unbiased (not that anything is totally unbiased) merits.  Yes, I’ve won something like this and that’s why I know of what I speak.  As a test I put something of mine up for voting (on this “reader’s poll” in question but I won’t say what poll or when I did this) and only mentioned it on my blog.  I voted and so did my wife.  Guess how many votes I got.

That’s right…two (2).

Surprisingly enough I placed in the mid-teens.

So the next time you see an author stating how well they did at the polls remember this.  Sales are a better indicator of your book’s popularity… not some contest where you can vote (and everyone in your entire circle of friends, family and co-workers can vote too). That’s why the New York Times Bestseller List isn’t called the New York Times Readers Poll List.  However sales aren’t necessarily an indication of how good a book is (for example; Twlight).  If these people cast ballots in your favor but don’t read (or better yet buy) what you pen then is the contest fair? I’m sure there are exceptions to this rule… but I also believe in fairies, werewolves, honest politicians and other mythical creatures that don’t exist.  Anyway here’s a big, hearty congratulations to all the winners you deserve it.

Sort of.

This brings me to another point.  When asked to write something for an anthology by any of my publishers I can crank one out (and keep my usual high quality) in a matter of a few hours.  When I send it in I get the following comment, “Wow!  We didn’t expect this so quickly and be so good.” 

Why is that?

I’ll tell you why.  Most authors spend their entire evenings (or mornings or afternoons) promoting their current work instead of WRITING.  This has become an alarming problem that usually results in what I call Daily Oppressive Promotional Ergonomics or DOPE. 

You’re a writer don’t be a DOPE.

If you spend more than an hour a day on promotion and not one minute writing then you are not a writer but a promoter.  Stephen King in his book “On Writing” says he sets a word count limit of 2,000 words per day.  Personally I can crank out 2k of words in about an hour.  However I’ll spend another hour or so re-reading it and adding to it but that’s me.  What bothers me is when I see writers blogging, “I made my 5k word count today!” all I wonder is “How many k was worth putting on disk?”

However at least they’re writing not promoting.   

Writers write…that’s what we do.  We shouldn’t become so involved with “getting our work out there” that’s the job of a publisher (a.k.a. a good one I should mention).  If you’re publisher isn’t at least sending out your latest release to 3 review sites, including reviews on the buy page to your book, advertising on genre related sites or giving out suggestions then you have a bad publisher.  It takes money to make money so if your publisher isn’t spending cash to reel in readers, why did they publish you in the first place?  These places bank on you suffering from Promotion Marketing Syndrome or PMS to do their job for them. 

Don’t suffer from PMS…it’s not worth the pain.

Quite frankly I’ve stopped with one of these since I don’t see a future for it.  Plus I’m too busy writing…which is what I love to do.  Promoting sucks, spending time away from family sucks worse and giving 60% of my sales to someone not trying to at least shoulder some of the burden goes beyond sucking.  In fact the only thing worse than an indifferent publisher is a Black Hole (for overall suckage that is).

So don’t get PMS and don’t be a DOPE. Find the right publisher for your work and then move on to your next writing project.  You’ll be a happier, more prolific writer for it. And imagine all the free time you’ll have…scary isn’t it?

 That’s my two-cents,

Chris

 PS By the way I wrote this in ten minute and it’ over 900 words long.  Just wanted to make that point.

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