A 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.
I 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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