As I sit and contemplate what I learned from the cover wars competitions I have entered, I am forced to wonder if other ones would be the same. To be honest, I only participated these competitions for information. Whether I won or not was never the focus and, in this type of competition, it never should be. I entered for the experience; to satisfy questions of my own; and to be able to write about them.
It is unfortunate, but such competitions for Indie authors, in my opinion, appear to be nothing more than a popularity contest. I confirmed this by asking several people who voted for my book cover what they thought of the other covers. The answer was the same from almost all questioned – I don’t know. I didn’t look. Lol. So, in reality, is the winner actually the one with an unbiased best cover? Odds are, the answer is no. That includes the few votes generated by the hosting website itself.
This is how the competition works: Covers are matched against each other for a time period–a day; three days; sometimes a week. In that time, authors need to find as many votes as they can for their cover. That means hopping on Social Media and spamming the channels to send friends, family, and fans to the page to vote. That, in itself, is a deterrent, but still, if you enter, you may feel the need to make a good showing or at least gather a few votes.
Every author has their own way of handling this. Some have PA’s that spam for them; some tag everyone they know; some post messages asking for help; others have fans who look for ways to cheat – sometimes claiming to find ways of recording votes by the same person more than once. I have no proof either way if such activity is possible.
Believe it or not, these voting type contests can become quite violent with threats being slung between authors wanting the top spot. Think twice before becoming involved in these activities. It only ends up in a mess. I urge you, be professional: do your thing; promote yourself; don’t worry about what other people are doing. Most of the time lashing out with accusations only makes the accuser look bad in the end. Try to have fun instead.
Who is the real winner in all this? Those hosting the competition are. Think about it. Every author is sending slews of people to their web pages. The participants are increasing traffic and exposure to their products. It is, to put it plainly, a genius marketing plan.
Putting aside all negativity, there are a few reasons for authors to participate in cover wars and similar events:
- It puts your book out there. Regardless of how many of your competitor’s fans look, or don’t, someone inevitably will see your book at some point – even if it is from Google searches picking up mentions of the title.
- Unless there is a fee to enter, you don’t lose anything – even if you don’t win.
- Free advertising. Hopefully, your book will make it into promo ads for the competition.
- This is a good way to start cross-promoting with other authors.
- If you have had a problem coming up with something to chatter with your fans about, use the competition as a way to kick start a bit of commotion on your social media pages and breath new life into them.
If you are entering one of these contests, take it with a grain of salt. I wouldn’t be too upset if you don’t win. Above all else, be a good competitor and have some fun. Allow winners their moment in the spotlight. I tip my hat to all the covers I have competed against and to those who end up on top.
I am not saying all cover wars are the same. I have no doubt there are some cover competitions that are different and I’d love to hear about them in comments.
Will I enter a cover war again? No, at least not unless I find one in your suggestions that looks interesting. I find it tiring to ask people to help and I’m sure they find it tiresome getting asked.
Thanks for reading.