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Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Indie Life: Keeping it Real

As indie writers we're all looking for attention, we're all looking to set ourselves apart from the pack.

There are good ways and bad ways to do this. Good ways include writing amazing novels like Hugh Howey's Wool, which I'm absorbed in right now. You can also be a blogging powerhouse like Alex Cavanaugh, or write engaging series for niche readerships like Jack Badelaire.

Sadly, there are more wrong ways than right ways. Review inflation, misleading advertising, spamming, all end up hurting the writer more than helping.

One old trick that I bumped into yesterday is the "Pulitzer Prize nominee". Someone on my Facebook feed was bragging that a certain erotica book had been nominated for the 2014 Pulitzer in fiction.

Um, no. "Pulitzer nominee" is an old scam. Since people can send in their own stuff, they are essentially nominating themselves. Not everything that's submitted counts as a nominee, only the finalists, and there's no finalist list for the 2014 Pulitzer Award for Fiction, as the deadline for submissions only passed on the first of this month.

Claiming to be a "Pulitzer nominee" is a tired old trick that writers have been using for years. The author and publisher are doing themselves no favors by claiming this, no media outlet is going to pick this up (journalists all know this con), and the idea of the stuffy old Pulitzer committee nominating an erotica novel for the fiction award is downright ludicrous.

The Pulitzer Prize's own website says:

"Nominated Finalists are selected by the Nominating Juries for each category as finalists in the competition. The Pulitzer Prize Board generally selects the Pulitzer Prize Winners from the three nominated finalists in each category. The names of nominated finalists have been announced only since 1980. Work that has been submitted for Prize consideration but not chosen as either a nominated finalist or a winner is termed an entry or submission. No information on entrants is provided.

"Since 1980, when we began to announce nominated finalists, we have used the term "nominee" for entrants who became finalists. We discourage someone saying he or she was "nominated" for a Pulitzer simply because an entry was sent to us."

This sort of thing only hurts the reputation of indie publishers, and I doubt it leads to many sales. I mean, have you ever bought an erotica novel because it was "nominated" for a Pulitzer?

Keep it real, friends. It will help us all out in the long run.


  1. That's good to know!
    And I've never even purchased an erotica novel. That shouldn't surprise you though...
    I'm a powerhouse? Must be Mini-Alex...

  2. People should take the effort they sync into scamming and playing the system, and focus it on writing another book / short story...

    Thanks for the shout-out, Sean!

    When things quiet down here, I need to give AFL a read, especially if the sequel is eventually coming down the road.

  3. If I felt the burning need to buy a smut novel, I'd make sure to pick one that WASN'T under consideration for a Pulitzer prize, I doubt they are good judges of smut. Nor should they be.

  4. I'll be honest - I've bought a couple of them, out of curiosity when they show up on JA Konrath's blog or someplace else really prominent because the author is now making five or six figures selling erotic romance books. I'll skim through it, see if there are typos, if the writing is actually competent, etc..

    1. There's no doubt the money is in the hot stuff. If I were a really practical writer I'd be writing series romance and erotica. Sadly for my bank account, I want to write what I want to read.

    2. I hear you. It's pretty impressive though, the overall professionalism that some of these writers put into their work. Yes, there's a lot of amateur "erotica" (read: smut) being thrown up on Amazon (pun intended), but some of these more legit writers, such as Jasinda Wilder, have become positively Entrepreneurial about it, and their efforts are evident in the incredible sales they're seeing.

    3. Yeah, I know an Ellora's Cave author from way back. Her writing is excellent and there's real plot in her novels.


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