From Sandy Nathan: We have a great treat today. Cheryl Kaye Tardif, author of The River, Divine Intervention, and Whale Song, is our guest blogger. Cheryl shares with us ways that contests––not the kind you enter, but the type you create––can enhance your novel’s visibility and sales. Great tips from a real pro.
As a writer, you can enter contests for just about every aspect of writing, from postcard/flash fiction to short stories to poetry to novels to non-fiction. But what about holding your own contests for your readers? It’s a great way to keep them engaged and to promote your work.
Over the years I’ve witnessed many ingenious contests held by authors and I’ve learned some things along the way. People don’t really want to just ‘enter’ a contest, they want to participate, interact, be part of the action. If a contest asks them to do more than submit their name, they tend to take more of an
interest. So make your contest entertaining and interactive!
Here are some examples that might help you create your own contests:
I’ve held 2 main contests for future novels that have been quite successful and a lot of fun for everyone involved: my ‘Create a Corpse Contest’, where entrants send in a name (could be fictional or their high school bully or boss or ex-friend) and I “kill off” the character in a novel. Trust me, it’s not only amusing, it’s very therapeutic!
And my ‘Become a Character Contest’, where entrants submit their own name and their character gets to live but might be a good guy/gal or a bad one. Part of the incentive for people to enter is that they get to choose a character’s name. The other part is that they usually get a signed copy after the book is published and a mention (name or initials) on my acknowledgment page.
How exciting is that?
I’ve also held contests on Twitter. Here’s a great way to get your name out, get people re-tweeting for you and create some excitement. I asked other authors to sponsor the prizes. In exchange, I promoted them on my contest page on my website. One of the most important things I learned from Twitter is
everything is automatic. Get their attention now and get them interacting by asking for a reply. My winners usually had to reply with: “Pick me!” The first correct reply won.
Recently I entered the “America’s Next Best Celler Contest” on Textnovel.com. The prize is a decent advance and a publishing contract with Dorchester Publishing. My new novel in progress, Lancelot’s Lady, is currently #1 Most Popular (and I need more votes). To make things more exciting for my readers and fans, I decided to throw in my own contest. “Create a Corpse” is now open for entries and the lucky ‘corpse’ will become a character in Lancelot’s Lady. You can find the rules at: Cheryl’s deadly ‘Create a Corpse Contest’
These are just a few of the contests I’ve held over the years, each one helping me promote my novels or my name, creating interactivity with my readers and allowing me to extend my own “shelf life” as an author. You can pump new life back into your career or into an older novel by doing something innovative and creative. Where you go with it is up to your imagination. Promotion is hard work, but it should be fun too!
Cheryl Kaye Tardif, Suspense Author
© 2009 Cheryl Kaye Tardif
Author of The River, Divine Intervention and Whale Song