Count your Likes

IWSG BadgeA post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group

Some time ago, I interviewed a local photographer for my newspaper article. Four of her photographs won a contest recently. As a result, they were displayed on billboards along Canadian highways and bridges in December 2014 and January 2015. I asked her how the winner was selected, and she said that according to the contest organizers, the images that got the most Likes and Favorites on Facebook and Twitter won.
“I mobilized all my friends and family,” she joked, “and they in turn mobilized theirs. I realize, of course, that winning this way has nothing to do with the artistic merits of the art and everything to do with who gets a better marketing strategy and a wider network.” Still she was happy with her win and didn’t dispute it.
Like ButtonI don’t dispute it either. I think she is an amazing photographer, but her story started me thinking. Lately, many literary contests of novels, short stories, or book covers have been selecting their winners the same way. Even big publishers do that. They accept for publication the manuscripts that win most LIkes on some social network instead of the traditional way: what the editors consider worthy. I suspect that winning in such cases also doesn’t have much to do with the artistic merits of the work. The more people a writer could incite to vote for him, the better his chances of victory.
Sometimes I find posts in groups I belong to with the almost identical wording: “I entered a contest such-and-such. Please vote for me.” The link is usually provided below. Nobody expects me to vote for what I like, but for whom I know. And people do vote for their online buddies, without even familiarizing themselves first with what they’re voting for.
What chance do I, as a writer, have of winning any contest, if I don’t have a wide network of online friends or an internet-savvy family? None, I suppose. The quality of my writing doesn’t matter. The number of my followers does.
It’s a sad world.

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This entry was posted in Insecure Writer's Support Group, Olga Godim, Writing and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Count your Likes

  1. Thank you for bringing this up. I immediately delete those “vote for me requests” because you’re on my list -wink*wink- unless I have read the work. The only contest I’ve entered is Wishing Shelf Book Awards where a classroom of kids or an adult reading group are assigned to weed out the finalists before a small panel chooses the winner in each age group.
    At the very least, somebody is reading the work and that is why I’m doing this. To entertain the reader. Sure, every sale is a boost to my ego, but I’m a realist.

  2. Olga Godim says:

    I will have to look into this award. Never heard of it before. Maybe I could enter?

  3. Widdershins says:

    I don’t play those ‘vote-for-me’ games either. I’ve got better things to do with my time.

  4. Gwen Gardner says:

    It does turn into a popularity contest at times, having nothing to do with the quality of the writing. It’s why I don’t enter those contests and only vote if I’ve read and liked the work.

    Gwen Gardner, IWSG Co-host

  5. blondeusk says:

    Interesting post. I agree it’s all about marketing and social network reach. Sad really!

  6. silveroinks says:

    Used to be that reviewers provided a check against this sort of thing, but nowadays, online, a great many reviewers see 4- and 5-star material in stories that in all probability would never even be considered by legitimate publishers. The whole idea of “quality” has become, as they constantly remind us, purely a matter of personal taste. How many times have I seen them drawing the line at *punctuation*? I’m disappointed to hear about these contests, but not in the least surprised. The whole writing/publishing/reading process is going down the toilet.

  7. I had to smile. I was new in this book marketing madness three years ago. I thought that if I managed to coerce enough people to LIKE me, my post, my pages, that would mean I was a success. I now realize that’s not necessarily the case. It may get a few more people noticing my and my book. However, I’ve since learned its genuine connections that matter, both personally and for sales. Blessings.

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