apps, Publishing, writing

Should Indie Authors Bother With Chat Fiction?

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Image via Pixabay

Last year, I came upon a newish trend in fiction and that was chat fiction.  For those of you who aren’t hip to what teens are up to, chat fiction is basically storytelling presented as chat messages.  Chat fiction has caught the attention of Wattpad, as well Amazon, who have invested in this new form of storytelling.  In fact, some of these companies are actively looking to commission work in order to help populate their catalogs.  I’ll get to that later, but first, let me answer the question why?

Why Are Teens Reading Books On Their Phones?

To understand this trend or evolution in storytelling, you have to understand why teens are reading these stories on their phones and not on a laptop, or an ereader like a Kindle.  According to a 2013, Pew Research Center report 74% of teens aged 12 to 17, accessed the internet on phones and tablets.  Many also reported that they often share a computer with a family member like a parent or sibling.  This means that their phones are a personal item they own and don’t have to share.  Also, most phones can access the home wi-fi network, so bills won’t be too high.

Whose Idea Was This Anyway?

Chat fiction is a spin-off of cellphone fiction that became popular in Japan during the early 2000’s.  Called keitai shousetsu, meaning cellphone novel, this form of storytelling became a phenomenon among middle grade teens and commuters in Japan.  Several Japanese authors became very popular by writing poetry, as well as short, serialized stories that people, mainly teens, read on their phones.  The most popular cellphone stories were picked up by traditional publishers in Japan, or made into movies, and even anime.

Fast forward to 2012, a tech entrepreneur is on a sabbatical after selling her company, and as you can imagine, she’s writing a book.  While writing her YA novel, she has serious doubts as to whether it would resonate with teens and questioned whether kids even read books anymore.  So she and her husband did several experiments and learned that teens would read books but only if they were short and intense.  We’re talking just a few minutes or less than 1,000 words.  So this author had an idea to create stories that kids could read on their cellphones however, unlike keitai shousetsu, these stories would take the form of chat messages.  The app she created was called, Hooked and became popular in both the iTunes and Google Play stores.  This caught the attention of big companies like Wattpad, who created their own chat fiction app called, Tap and Amazon, not wanting to be left out of the party, created Amazon Rapids.

The most popular chat fiction apps include:

Good News: Hooked Will Actually Pay Authors

Hooked is currently looking for authors who can deliver an interactive experience for their readers.  That means choose your own adventure type stories as well short, fast paced stories.  However, this must all be written in a chat like format, so this will be a challenge for any author.  But if you’re up to it, here are some tips when submitting:

  • Must be familiar with smart phones particularly, chat features
  • You need to be able to write short fiction, as in three minutes short or under 1,000 words.
  • Though places like Hooked, accept multiple genres like sci-fi, they say horror and thrillers do best on their site.
  • The compensation isn’t a change your life type of pay but better than the nothing that the rest of the other apps seem to offer.

Stats About Hooked’s Users

  • 69% of users are between the ages of 18-24.
  • More than half of their users are female.
  • The majority of stories on Hooked are user generated but the most popular ones are from commissioned works.

 

Hooked Story 1
Sound of the Century from Hooked (Click on the pic to see the rest on Instagram)

 

Yarn is also considering paying writers somewhere down the road but as of this posting has yet to launch that project.

In Conclusion…

Is chat fiction a fad?  Who knows, many people thought online fan fiction was a fad but that’s still going strong since 1998.  Only time will tell if young people will continue reading on their phones.  Although I doubt it, like with most technology, phones will continue to evolve and if you know anything about young people, you know things that are cool now, quickly become obscure.  In the mean time, if you’re targeting middle graders or teens and aren’t having a lot of success reaching them, this might be a potential tool for you.

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Business, Indie Publishing, Marketing, Publishing, Social Media

The Future Of Book Publishing: Figuring Out The Next Move

The Future Of Publishing
Image via Pixabay

It’s 2018, and 2017 is finally behind us which has a lot of authors wondering, what’s next?  Well, I took out my crystal ball and tried to see what the future holds for the publishing industry?  Will bots replace authors?  Short answer—not anytime soon.  Will AI technology replace word processing software like Microsoft Word and Scrivener?  In a nutshell—not yet.  Do we finally get our jet packs?  Again—not anytime soon.  So what will change next year?  Well, read on and find out…

Prediction #1: No More Superstars

It was pointed out at one news outlet that there were no breakout books in 2017.  Many blamed the slow down due to various political elections around the world and although, that could be the case, it could also be an ominous trend.  One only has to look to the music and movie industries to see where ours is heading post digital revolution.  For the past ten years, shelf space at brick and mortar stores has been disappearing and there are no indications that trend will cease.  When Barnes & Noble announced they would focus less on books, and applied for a liquor license, the publishing industry shuddered.  Amazon alone, now controls 71% of the ebook market, and accounts for 37% of all print book sales in the U.S. and has no serious rivals as of this posting.  This leaves the publishing industry at a huge disadvantage.

Major publishers are finding it harder and harder to introduce new books to the masses which has them turning to their backlists in order to make a profit.  Also, it’s been reported over the past few years, that midlist authors are being unceremoniously cut loose by major publishers.  So what does this mean to indie authors?  It means that the industry is getting careful about their spending and they’re doing everything they can to squeeze every last dime out all of their intellectual properties.  Many authors will have to either move on to another line of work, or seriously consider self-publishing.  This will ultimately mean more competition for indie authors.
In fact on the Creative Penn, this was discussed and the conclusion was made that the superstars like J.K. Rowling and Stephen King will become a thing of the past.  Mainly, because there won’t be any money to invest in an author’s career anymore.  This will lead to self-publishing becoming a default setting in an author’s early career.  In other words, self-publishing will become the norm and the only way to get a contract with a large publisher. That’s if large publishers can remain relevant.

Prediction #2: Social Media Is Going To Get A Lot Harder

In October, Facebook, began dividing their user’s newsfeeds in two, between personal and promotional posts in an experiment.  Without warning, people in six countries found their newsfeeds had changed, dramatically.  It was similar to what email services like Gmail and Outlook, did when they divided their inboxes between promotional and primary tabs.  Though Facebook says it doesn’t plan on rolling out these changes to every single country just yet, it does makes sense to begin shifting your marketing plan away from your page and possibly focus more on Facebook groups or maybe consider spending money to get your posts seen.

Prediction #3: Authors May Turn To Mobile Apps & Texting Services To Reach Readers Directly

With the effectiveness of email and social media marketing coming into question, those authors who went mobile won’t sweat it too much.  Believe it or not, apps and texting services aren’t for big businesses anymore, celebrities, athletes and even musicians are embracing the technology.  Romance author, H.M. Ward, said during an interview at the Self-Publishing Formula that most of her readers open her emails on their phones which is why she has a texting service to reach them now.  However, she does also say that your list has to be worth it (profitable) to warrant the expense.  The good news here is, is that these options are becoming less expensive with each passing year which, is perfect timing for authors looking for a new way to connect directly with their readers.

Prediction #4: AIs Will Make Books More Accessible   

You’ve probably heard by now that podcasts and audiobooks are very popular in this busy world we live in.  Instead of mindless corporate playlists on the radio, people are listening to niche podcasts and even audiobooks on their way to work, or at the gym.  Amazon saw this coming and developed their AI, Amazon Echo, to easily link with their ebooks and Audible library.  So readers can now have their audiobooks accessed and played while, ebooks can be read by Amazon’s AI for free.  Google and Apple are likely going to follow suit because they also have AIs and a somewhat healthy book catalog.  In fact, it’s believed that AI technology will only continue to evolve and affect every area of our lives from healthcare, to warfare.  Physicist and author, Stephen Hawking, has gone on record predicting that AIs will eventually take over the world.

Prediction #5: Virtual & Augmented Reality Will Present New Opportunities

In October of 2017, Harry Potter fans were treated to a thrill when Google announced it would be offering on their virtual reality platform Daydream, a gaming adventure based on the book series.  Also, this past year, The Washington Post, published an augmented reality article based on the Freddie Gray case.  It’s believed that in the future, media outlets will begin using augmented reality more in order to present complex stories.  As if that weren’t enough, The Washington Post also has a robot reporter who already published 850 articles.  Called Heliograf, it is being used to free up staff from redundant projects as well as helping with big data sets.  So what does this all mean?..

It means that it’s not beyond reason that publishers could use this type of technology when presenting both fiction and nonfiction books.  Several decades ago, publishers were producing choose your own adventure books where an author would write alternative endings to a story and readers would decided which one they wanted to follow.  This was popular for a short while but it may be revived if technology evolves.  That could mean interactive books will take on a whole new dimension and authors, as well as publishers, will have a new potential income stream.

It also means that big data is going to play a larger role in aquisitions, meaning data trends will soon play a role in how much a publisher will pay for an intellectual property.

In Closing

I hope I gave a balanced view of the future, there is a lot for indie authors to look forward to as well as several challenges.  Isn’t that always how reality goes?  Now, I’m handing the mic to you, if have any predictions of your own, add them in the comment section.

writing

Instagram For Authors Part 2

Instagram for Authors Me 2

In my last post. I talked about Instagram and how authors can use it to build a social media following as well as what type of content to post.  Today, I’m going into the specifics on how to use Instagram to promote a book.  I’m also going to give a few ideas on when to post as well as how to maximize your time spent there so that you don’t spend all day posting pretty pictures.  So without further ado…

A Free Feature Authors Can Use For Book Promotion:

Instagram recently released a new feature (copying SnapChat) called, Instagram Stories where you can post a series of pictures, or videos for 24 hours.  Why would somebody want to do that?  It’s to create a sense of urgency and trigger the impulse mechanism within a human brain which can be ideal for things like:

  • A presale
  • A limited sale
  • A book giveaway
  • Or even a contest

The images or videos appear as a slideshow and you can post throughout the day. The only drawback is, there’s no ability to interact with your followers because there are no comments or likes for these kinds of posts.  If you’re interested, here’s a post from Instagram’s own blog which goes into further detail.

Instagram Carousel

Last year, Instagram launched a feature of slide shows posts called Carousel where users can load up to 10 photos or videos to one single post just like the Stories feature but without the time limit.  Like the Stories feature, users can spread their posts out over a period of a day or several weeks building up to a big sale or your even the release of your next book.  It’s all up to you.

Here are more ways authors can use Instagram’s Carousel feature:

  • Post a set of teasers from your work
  • Reveal a book cover
  • Announce a book release
  • Have a book sale
  • Hold a giveaway
  • Host contests
  • Post a series of book trailers

A refreshing example of an author using the carousel feature wisely is author Krystal Sutherland, who used it to display her book covers in various languages.  Also, blogger Ana Hoffman, took the feature and used her pics to introduce herself, as well as her work to her followers.  These two ladies knocked it out of the park.

Instagram Polling Stickers

One big complaint that many users had about Instagram was it’s very basic features.  I mean, there really wasn’t much you could do to engage your followers outside of responding to comments. So in response, Instagram recently introduced polling again, copying SnapChat’s Polly service.

Ways authors can use polling:  

  • Ask about questions about pricing for example: Is $5.99 too much for an ebook?
  • Opinions on book covers.
  • Thoughts on book titles.
  • Ask about various characters for example: Do you think Character A deserves his own book? Should Character B get the ax?

This feature can be very helpful to authors wanting to mine data from their followers.  And the good thing is, people love to give their opinions so it’s not considered intrusive.

Scheduling Used To Be A Complicated Business On Instagram

Sadly, Instagram didn’t allow third party apps to post to their site until this past year.  I have to admit, I do make it a point to preschedule things just so my account doesn’t lie dormant for months at a time while I write my next book. However, I only use the services approved by Instagram, I’ll list those later on.

Before I do that, I’ll discuss why authors should consider scheduling apps.  During a book launch, you might be asked to do interviews or even write a guest post on a popular blog.  Most hosts would appreciate it, if they don’t require an author to promote the project on their own social media sites.  Now I know that sounds like common sense but you’ll be surprised at how few authors actually do this.  It’s not because of ego or the fear of marketing but usually because during a book launch, authors are busy or just plain nervous.  Nonetheless, this can be seen as rude or unprofessional by those trying to help promote us and our work.

What can scheduling/ reminder apps help authors promote or remember?

  • Book signing dates
  • Radio or television interviews
  • Online or offline book tours
  • Holiday posts: Wish your followers a Happy New Year or World Book Day. Yes, that’s a real holiday.
  • Post while on vacation or even while sick.

Many authors use these scheduling apps for pretty much all their social media accounts, though I don’t recommend relying solely on these apps to post, I do believe they can be aides in helping keep authors organized.

The more popular scheduling/ reminder apps are: 

There you have it, more tips and ideas for authors who want to use Instagram for their book marketing.  If you have anymore tips, please let me know in the comments section.

 

writing

Instagram For Authors Part 1

Instagram for Authors Part 1
Image via Pixabay

Instagram, is one of the fastest growing social media sites in the world with over 800 million monthly users.  With a user base that is between the ages of 18 and 29, it’s globally the most popular social media site beating Facebook and Twitter for online engagement.  I’ll admit when I think of Instagram, I image teen girls posting those duck face selfies or foodies, posting pictures of every crumb that touches their plate.  So I really didn’t believe that Instagram had anything to offer me, or any author for that matter.  I mean, I’m a writer and writers write, they don’t do pictures let alone, video.  However over the past several years, I’ve been seeing the trends in social media go from long form text to short visual posts.

Don’t believe me?  This past year, Facebook began letting their users choose to frame their text posts within bright eye-catching backgrounds.  This is mainly because their algorithms favor images and video over text which has left a lot of people complaining about reach.  So this was Facebook’s answer to the problem…

Rachels Happy Halloween on FB

Corny, right?  It’s no secret that visual media works better than plain text, it’s one of the reasons why Facebook purchased Instagram back in 2012.  It’s also the reason why the most popular and fastest growing social media sites are the ones with richer content like pictures and video.

So using my brand new Instagram account, I went to work and started studying how authors and readers use the site successfully.

Okay, So What Do Authors Post About?

At a place like Instagram, a long form post is not very practical. The content you share on Facebook or Twitter is most likely not going to work here.  You need to tell a story with your posts which shouldn’t be too hard for an author.  Below, I’ve listed several examples of how authors are using Instagram to share their work and reach readers.

Ideas For Instagram Posts:  

  • Share quotes (usually short)
  • Include teasers from a WIP (work in progress)
  • Ask questions to followers. Here’s writer @macxlopes asking followers if they would even want to read his book if it were published.

View this post on Instagram

Time to embrace my fear… #walkingwithwords

A post shared by Mãcx £õpes (@macxlopes) on

  • Share behind the scenes peeks. For example, author Barbara Freethy posted a pic of her cat starring intently while she worked.
  • Post pics of book swag like this one from author K.S. Thomas.
  • Reveal new book covers via pic or video.
  • Upload book trailers.
  • Do a live video. Many authors and celebs use live videos to do live Q&As but you can also use live video to make announcements about publication dates.

Here’s a tip: If you have a text post you’d like to share on Instagram be sure it’s written on visually appealing pictures or backgrounds. There are many sites that offer free graphic design software like; Canva, Stencil and Crello.  These sites will provide backgrounds, and even resize your work according to the requirements of various social media sites.

Book Related Hashtags

After figuring out what to post, the second step on my journey was to find all the book and publishing related conversations.  To my surprise, it wasn’t hard to find readers and book reviewers.

  • #Books 24,140,100 people used this hashtag in their posts
  • #Bookstagram: 14,223,284 posts
  • #Bookworm: 8,347,983
  • #Reading: 14,298,588
  • #Writing: 7,730,884
  • #Author 3,612,412
  • #Ebook: 892,842
  • #Shelfi: 836,264
  • #Readers: 565,197
  • #ReadersOfInstagram: 394,919
  • *Bonus: #Bookstagrammer: 1,251,555 to help you find reviewers on Instagram.

Tip: There are several sites that track the most popular hashtags being used on Instagram like TagBlender, RiteTag and Hashtagify.me.

A List of Popular #Bookstagrammers:

I recommend just looking at these accounts to observe and learn about how Instagram functions.  Find an author in your genre and look in the comments section.  Engage and follow them, these people are your target audience.

More Word & Book Related Accounts:

There you have it, tips authors can actually use for their Instagram accounts.  Stay tuned for next time, because I’ll be sharing how to use Instagram for book promotion as well as sharing useful apps.

 

Book Promotion, Marketing, Publishing, Social Media, Writing Business

Why Authors Need To Learn Social Media: The New Reality

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Image via Pixabay

Lately it is becoming more and more common place for agents and publishers to assess an author’s platform before signing them.  That means they are looking for authors who can reach the readers they are targeting.  In fact at the Digital Book World Conference & Expo in 2017, representatives from Hachette and Perseus admitted they are checking out author platforms and social media engagement then reporting those findings at their acquisitions meetings.  Like it or not, publishers are using social media as a measuring stick so wouldn’t be nice if we could impress or at least pass the inspection?

While doing research for my upcoming book Social Media Hacks for Authors, I came across several resources, in the form of courses and tutorials that can help authors who struggle with social media.  And here’s the plus, many of these resources are available for free directly from the social media sites themselves!  I understand that many authors can’t afford the more expensive social media courses so I went on a mission to find the help we all need for free or at the very least, real cheap.

Below I list several resources and no, I’m not affiliated with any of the services or products mentioned.

Direct From The Horse’s Mouth

Did you know that Facebook has its own set of video tutorials that cover everything from advertising to analytics?  Twitter, also has a Skillshare video featuring their marketing manager Sandra Vega and you can view it for free.  Below I list the top 7 social media sites in the English speaking world.

General Social Media Courses

If you want to go further in your education there are several websites that will help you with your social media marketing.  The course topics range anywhere from content creation to targeted marketing.  Some of these are free while others have both free and paid options.

Tip:  Take advantage of the free material and later, if you feel like taking a more targeted course like Mark Dawson’s Advertising for Authors then go for it.

In Closing

Don’t be discouraged if you’re not an overnight sensation because building a following takes time nonetheless, you do have to start.  Gone are the days where social media was optional, today’s authors are expected to have an online presence no matter if they choose to go the traditional route or not.  Yes, this is more work but it is also a good thing because whether we choose to go traditional or not, our audience will follow us, not our publisher.  It’s this connection to your audience that is the key to a long-term career and isn’t that what we all want?

Advertising, Book Promotion, Indie Publishing, Marketing, Networking, Publishing, Social Media, writing

How To Market Your YA Book Part 2

Book Marketing
Image via Pixabay

A few years ago, I wrote about marketing a YA novel and since then lots of things have change.  For one, there are more marketing avenues as well as many more pitfalls.  When I wrote that post in 2013, mobile phone usage was on the rise worldwide and tablets were new.  Fast forward 4 years and mobile phones are a necessity, while tablets are now being used by cats and infants.  I kid you not.

In this post I answer the questions, where are the young people and what do they want?  Also, I address some important trends that are revolutionizing the publishing industry.  So let’s get started…

More Media, More Problems

In the past few years, Facebook, has reigned as the undisputed king of social media with over two billion monthly users but it does have competition particularly, when it comes to reaching young people.  However Facebook tried to resolve that issue by purchasing two popular apps Instagram and What’s App.  Despite that, it’s still hard to find teens on Facebook itself, preferring; Instagram, Snapchat, Kik or Periscope, to the overpopulated, Facebook.  These newer platforms have a growing and active user base of 13-34 year olds, which has the attention of online marketers looking to reach Gen Y and Z.

Why do young people favor these sites you ask?  Because most of them have richer forms of content like video and gifs which are ideal for quick scrolling.  You know they say, a picture is worth a thousand words and this is especially true for short videos which dominate the feeds of most teens.  That means if you want to reach this demographic, you’ll have to use visuals like video and eye-catching images.

Short Is The New Long

The trends in publishing on both the adult and teen market is shorter, serialized books.   In fact, many online retailers have launched programs like; Kindle Singles, Kobo Exclusive Shorts and Nook Snaps which all feature short books.  Even bestselling author James Patterson, has begun focusing on shorter and cheaper works.  It seems those within the publishing industry have been watching indie authors closely.

Your Advertising Has To Be Different

Indie authors have been told to build a strong brand which is good advice but most teens say they don’t feel connected to any particular brand.  In fact, they say most brands don’t understand them at all and sadly, they’re right.  Gone are the days where you could just yell BOGO (Buy One Get One) and get someone’s attention.  Today, the question is can you contribute to the conversation teens are having or are you just trying to take it over?  The advice that most marketers give today is to make your ads look like native content which basically means that your ads shouldn’t look like ads at all.  Your advertising has to add to the conversation —their conversation.  So if your book can’t mesh with what teens are talking about, then it may not be as marketable as you think.

Young People Don’t Wish For Diversity, They Demand It

We live in a global society and this generation of children has grown accustomed to being exposed to different cultures and customs.  Gone are the days of living in a homogenized bubble, young people want to explore and learn, if you can provide these things, you stand to make a splash.  In 2014, the hashtag: #WeNeedMoreDiverseBooks became a movement when a Twitter discussion about the lack of diversity in the children’s genre went viral.  Several major publishers finally heard the cry and began publishing books with diverse worlds and characters.  Since then books like Listen, Slowly, by Thanhha Lai, and The Jumbies, by Tracey Baptiste, have rose to the top of the bestsellers list.

Social Media Influencers Are The New Celebs

Gone are the days where the radio or television executives chose the next big star today, algorithms and SEO determine who gets an audience and who won’t.  The party is online for teens and young adults, because the internet offers them a plethora of choices that traditional media just cannot.  Many of these choices are DIY Youtube channels and Snaps where regular people entertain, post tutorials and review products.  I talked about this in a previous article called: Booktube for Indie Authors which opened the eyes of a lot of authors who knew nothing about this subculture of book reviewers.  To the shock of many marketers, teens consider Youtubers legitimate celebrities right along the lines of Taylor Swift and Kylie Jenner.  This means that to teens, Booktubers are seen in the same league as the New York Times reviewers.

Young People Aren’t Difficult, They’re Different!

This paragraph may anger a few people but I have to tell it like it is.  Many older people fall into the same trap of previous generations who criticized or dismissed their youth and did so at their own peril.  When the World War II Generation ignored the Baby Boomers (think Vietnam), they in turn were ignored and marginalized later on in politics, and pop culture.  If you don’t try to understand this generation then everything they say and do will be foreign or scary.  You will miss out on modern culture and even risk losing an opportunity to make relationships which is the backbone of any marketing strategy.  So don’t run from them, do your best to understand them, who knows maybe they will take the time to listen to you as well?

writing

Awards For Indie Authors: The Truth

Awards for Indie Authors
Image via Pixabay

Not long ago, I was approached to judge an award contest but declined however, I noticed a few things odd about this particular contest as well as several others that are indie-centric.  I saw everything from hidden fees, to flat out pay to play type contests and wondered, why do they need to charge for this kind of thing?  I mean can’t these organizations get sponsors?

There are so many ways to raise money these days from starting a Kickstarter campaign to even setting up a Patreon account, so why are these organizations charging indie authors for these awards?  They mean absolutely nothing to the industry at large and do zilch but take money from authors.

The Actual Awards Themselves

Some companies are serious and hire a quality graphic designer to design their award.  However, there are others who don’t and use stock photos kind of like this one I found on Dreamstime. All you gotta do put some text to it and voila, an instant graphic you can slap on a book!

If it’s this cheap to get a graphic, then how about those hunks of glass that are physical representations of the contest?  I went online and found several awards that were eerily similar to some of the ones being given out to indie authors and discovered the prices for these hunks of glass can range anywhere from $10-$150+.

It Only Gets Worse…

There are some companies that hold actual award ceremonies which are held at convention centers or banquet halls where the ticket prices can range anywhere from $75 and up.  Now here’s my question, if an author is the guest of honor, then why aren’t they allowed in the building without paying a cover charge?

Why Are Authors Doing This?

It’s called social verification and it’s the oldest marketing trick in the book.  You see people (customers) think a product is more special if it has someone else’s seal of approval.  However in order for this to actually work, the endorsement has to be from a reputable source.

According to marketing experts awards can serve as a third party endorsement.  However, indie authors can also get this by securing reviews by prominent people in their industry and by getting a blurb from an author who’s popular in their genre.  And all this can be done for free.

The Harsh Truth

Although it’s been proven that awards can help a career, you need to score the right award.  Sadly to this day, many indie authors are excluded from most of the major awards within the publishing industry.  Not to say there aren’t any legitimate awards for self-published authors, there are, but many aren’t well known.  For example, there is no Nobel Prize or Newbery Medal for indie authors.  I believe this will inevitably change as the industry continues to evolve.

How It Really Works

In traditional publishing, a publisher or agent submits a novel to the proper agencies and if there are any fees involved, they pay it, not the author.  They do this because it’s in their own best interests if their authors have accolades from the publishing industry.  It reflects well on their business.

In self-publishing, it could be said that since you are the publisher that you ought to pay any fees associated with the award.  However, that creates a conflict of interest because if you win, your contemporaries can say that you paid for the honor.  So as you can see, there is no winning here.

Do Awards Sell More Books?

According to industry sources yes, but again, only if you win the right one.  Awards have been known to boost sales, through lengthening the shelf life of a book.  For example, winning a Pulitzer Prize can increase sales by 3 fold and keep a book on the charts for an extended period of time.

At The End Of The Day

There’s no doubt that entering award competitions are a personal choice.  It’s nice being honored but it’s not necessary, there are plenty of indie books that sold well that haven’t won any awards.  If bragging rights are important to you then this money will be well spent.  However, if you’re on a shoestring budget like most indies are, then this is just another way for people to separate an author from their money.