Author Competitions: Are they worth it?

I've run several competitions over the past year or so offering free copies of my books both in e-format and as paperbacks, but I'm beginning to wonder if it's worth the time and effort.

In all that time, I think I've only had one 'thank you' from a winner. Now, don't get me wrong -- I don't expect anyone to be eternally grateful, but it would be nice to know at least if the winner has received the e-book or paperback. Whether they enjoy it or not is another matter of course.

A few weeks ago I went out of my way to post a book to someone living a long way from my home. I had to make a detour especially to go to the main post office as our small village post office has closed down. This meant it had a knock-on effect of larger queues at the main post office as many of the smaller post offices have also gone in our town. I queued for around twenty minutes and the postage was quite high. So all in all, that plus the cost of the book, postage and packaging, plus the time taken out of my day, cost me dear.

Did the person who received the book let me know if it had arrived? No.

I've also yet to receive any feed back from any readers who have won any of my books.

Yet, none of this goes with other people who are avid readers of my books. Most say they can't put them down, but then again most of the people who tell me that are from my home town, so maybe they 'get my writing'. That's nice to know.

At the end of the day, I'm wondering if any of this is worth it? Writing to me is as essential as breathing but even that has to end one day.

Some of my happiest times as a writer was during the early days before publication when I just wrote for the pleasure of it and my only audience were the other members of my local writing group.

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Comment by Lynette Rees on April 27, 2008 at 7:22am
Thanks for responding, Pepper. I'm beginning to feel that competitions are a waste of time and effort!
Comment by Pepper Smith on April 27, 2008 at 5:53am
I've spoken with another author who did that sort of giveaway, and like me, she noticed that people who get the books more often than not will not ever let you know they got them, and will usually not tell you what they thought of the book. I don't know if it's the whole 'got it for free' deal or not--since it didn't cost them anything, they don't feel obligated to respond in any way.

I've never noticed any increase in sales from doing them. I hope there was some word of mouth going on on the other end, but you're never even guaranteed that the recipient ever read the book. I've only ever once stumbled across a post online in a forum where someone who won a copy of one of my books said he was currently reading it, but the post was old, and the fellow was apparently no longer active on that forum when I discovered it, so I never got feedback from him.

I suppose the contests have their advantages, but I'm not sure what they are.

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