BLOWING UP A BULLSHIT CONTEST – the largest one on the internet, maybe

Where is the honor?
Where is the honor?

There is so much wrong here I don’t know where to begin. (Warning: This is an exercise in sarcasm and parody, so don’t take any of it too seriously. Undies = to remain unbunched.)

A recent contest, let’s call it BULLSHIT CONTEST, was held where a bunch of unknown, starry-eyed author types were whipped into a frenzy in the hopes of being discovered and hitting the big time by getting their book published with real live publishers! Woo hooo!

I really don’t have an issue with that. Contests are fun and you can meet other author types and learn stuff. Yay, contests.

Oprah will be right with you.
Oprah will be right with you.

Here’s the thing. While the contest bigwigs were filling hopeful authors’ eyes full of sitting down with Oprah, a lot of the “judges” were trying to get you to do some other things. Like buy books from some of the “judges” in order for your book to have a better chance at being reviewed (“judges” is my term, not theirs; theirs is much worse as far as I’m concerned), subscribe to some of the judges’ blogs, follow some of the judges on Twitter…

Again, I have no problem with any of that. Okay, a little… But if somebody thinks they have a better chance of getting a book deal with a publisher because they bought a book by one of the judges, then they are acting foolishly and they deserve what they get. Buyer beware.

Yay, contests.

I have a better chance of winning if I buy the judge's book? Where do I sign?
I have a better chance of winning if I buy the judge’s book? Where do I sign?

As part of the feeding frenzy, these judges held (and will hold again) parties on social media and use the contest hashtag to get the starry eyed ones to grovel for visibility from the judges, beg for table scraps, and worse.

THAT, I had a problem with. I’m not into humiliating people, as I saw in the contest. And it went on. A LOT.

And I said so. On social media.

And the judges replied. On social media.

Oh, did they respond. I made my comment to one judge, who reacted poorly, and some of the other judges apparently felt I was insulting them (the judges), so they recruited the other judges to pound on me. Live, on their contest site – showing the world, hey, if you dare step out of line we will stomp you like a bug. Grovel! Beg! But do not defend yourself.

It was like fireworks, but not in a good way.
It was like fireworks, but not in a good way.

By the way, some of the contestants thought my comment was aimed at the contestants. So they started firing at me as well. Others, with NO CLUE about the dishonesty of comments being said about me (he took screen shots? DAMN!)  – and retweeted and favorited the BS, many using the contest hashtag.

That was fun. Yay, contests.

Well… I don’t intimidate easily, so I blasted back. They kept up the assault for about six hours.

So did I.

I followed!! and so did 999 of my friends!
I followed!! and so did 999 of my friends!

One by one, a lot of judges and some contest participants took shots at me (they had about 100 judges; maybe less than 15 took part in the online assault) and when the smoke cleared, I had added almost 1000 followers to MY Twitter account over the next 24 hours and blocked or been blocked by about 30 people – a lot of them loudmouth, bully-wannabe judges in the contest.

Around that time, one of the judges thought to ask, hey were you directing that comment at the judges or the participants?

In other words after trying to blow me out of the water for hours – and failing – the judges finally got around to asking if judges were in fact the ones my original comment was directed at. That’s an admission they didn’t even know who I was talking about!

Get insulted first, ask questions later.

These are people who profess to work with words. Author types.

Some of my minions may have behaved badly...
Some of my minions may have behaved badly…

Shortly thereafter, I did get a nice Twitter direct message from the head of the contest saying she basically had stepped in and called in her dogs, saying she would talk to all of them. That came right after she apparently realized how stupid her online mini-bullies were making her contest look.

Can you say damage control?

Yay, contests…

Now, the contest is over and SURPRISE, they didn’t honor their end, so I won’t honor mine. If I made one.

See, the deal was, the judges were supposed to get hundreds and hundreds of people to submit – wow, what a word – SUBMIT to the judges, I mean submit manuscripts to the judges and then dance like monkeys – I mean, wait patiently. The judges were to send back feedback to all contest applicants. Then a few lucky people would be moved on to the next round, and eventually – ready? EVENTUALLY the judges introduce the starry eyed manuscript to the judge’s agent!

Are you kidding me? Like you couldn’t do that yourself for free and without humiliation? Anyway…

The thing is, these judges have the inside track, right? They’re judges! They have agents! They are the connection you’ve been waiting for and they have books published and…

Well, no. A lot of the judges who are supposed to be teaching and guiding you do not in fact have a published book.

Hello? Qualifications?
Hello? Qualifications?

Or even 1000 twitter followers.

Or a lot of other things they want you to think. Like maybe an inside track.

But what they DO have is an obligation to review EACH manuscript that got SUBMITted and give feedback to the author.

Somehow, mine didn’t get reviewed and fed back! I know! You’re shocked, just like me. I can’t say I expected it after the blowup but hey, I didn’t write the rules. They said they’d do it, they didn’t say they’d do it ONLY if you behave like a good boy. See, when you have a contest over state lines, you have to play by the pesky rules of that state. That’s why Florida has guys who work at Hooters wearing little orange shorts. We insist on fair play.

Yours... must have gotten lost in the mail. Yes, that's it. Oopsie!
Yours… must have gotten lost in the mail. Yes, that’s it. Oopsie!

The bad judges of the bullshit contest do not.

Neither does the contest runner, I guess…


TOMORROW: Will I name names? Will I post screen shots? Will I show you the apology from the contest runner? CLICK HERE to find out.

Maybe I’ll just show you the follow up contests they’re holding (shocker! Fool me twice?) or a really, REALLY BAD piece of advice from one of the people who used to be involved in the contest about how since you weren’t selected, it’s okay to quit writing now! CAN YOU  BELIEVE THAT?

Yay, contests.

See you tomorrow.


Your humble host.
Your humble host.

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Dan Alatorre is the author of several bestsellers and the hilarious upcoming novel “Poggibonsi: an italian misadventure.” Check out his other works HERE.

Published by Dan Alatorre AUTHOR

USA Today bestselling author Dan Alatorre has 50+ titles published in more than 120 countries and over a dozen languages.

28 thoughts on “BLOWING UP A BULLSHIT CONTEST – the largest one on the internet, maybe

  1. I do love someone who speaks their mind, and doesn’t mind getting down and dirty doing it!
    I tend to get in a lot of trouble these days, having an opinion, and voicing it, but I could no more stop doing it than fly to the moon.
    If something is wrong, I think we have a duty to say say so …and loud!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Why, a contest that wants to sell lots of the judges books, of course!

      I was really, REALLY tempted to post the name of the contest, or make up a parody name that would be easy to guess, but I decided this applied to all contests and that we all need to have our eyes open when we do stuff like that.


  2. The scary thing is that despite you not naming names, or the contest, and despite me not noticing the drama unfold… I know exactly which contest you mean! I didn’t enter, but I did see the hashtag over and over and over, and without knowing much about it, I wasn’t even tempted to dip into it. I just want to get on with my writing and work alongside talented writers, not compete against them.

    Now, be a good boy and walk away from the drama!!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. A looooong time ago, a writer friend said she entered a contest and was disappointed at how she didn’t do well in it. (Some of you may think this was you. I can say this happened before I met almost any of you, so it is not you. This person wrote strictly teen romance novels.)

      She asked me if I ever entered contests.

      I said, fuck no, why do you care about the opinion of a bunch of strangers who may not even write as good as you do?

      Look at the judges, look at their book (if they have one), read the Ammy free sample. Is this a good writer? If not, then why do you want their input?


  3. I’ve been maintaining radio silence on Twitter lately, so I didn’t follow this, and I’m not certain which contest/what judges are involved, so no comment on that…

    …but I’ve seen a lot of stuff like this around. And it’s pretty disgraceful. So many people looking to sell so many things–writers (esp. indie) have to be careful what they subscribe to (both literally and figuratively).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I never looked at it before. I guess I knew crap like that was around, but I ignore a lot of stuff – and will happily go back to doing so.

      Yesterday, my five year old daughter proudly brought me a “book” she’d written. After I read it – looked at the stapled-together illustrations drawn on construction paper of her family members and dog and cat, along with their names, followed by “the end” – she said “I want to write books like you.”

      I have that. I don’t need contests.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Hahahaha… I am so sorry, I really don’t mean to laugh at all… really… I know how exasperating it is.. I have entered in two of these contests in my life, just the last few months.. and I did not know which was more depressing, the judging or my yearning to be judged hahaha… I can feel your pain and your frustration and your anger.. but I still feel like laughing, hysterically.. it is spot on.. I have never really believed that these contests were worth anything, and still I was foolish enough to try.. so I know what you mean.. (And **shudder, the judges… when I got curious and looked them up and their sites and blogs, gosh, I have never seen a more pretentious set of wusses than they.. and I just wished I had written a sappy third-world story with poverty, love for the downtrodden and the sordid sagas of the heavily unwashed masses of the netherworld that is the third-world.. etc… If I had written some sick story about flea-ridden children and poverty stricken women then I might have done a better show of it.. so never mind)..
    And I am not any social media, except I went mad and signed up on WordPress just a couple of months ago.. not that I regret it, but I sure surprised myself 😀

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I don’t have to wonder why I entered the contest. I know why. I almost didn’t. I was in the Keys having fun and almost forgot about it. Maybe I didn’t want to be too cool for school or something, and nobody pointed a gun at my head and made me enter. When I saw what was happening, I spoke out – and I’m glad I did, that night and today, even if it might make me look kinda sour grapes-ey and all. I’m stupid that way. I’m the kinda guy who’s a republican that make sure his elderly democrat neighbor gets to the polls on election day. I’m the kinda guy who jumps into the Gulf of Mexico and rescues two little girls from drowning when nobody else saw them except for their dad (who couldn’t swim) and my girlfriend at the time (now my wife) – while the dad went for a boat, I went for his daughters, swimming way out through the rip tide and saving their lives. I’m the kinda guy who’d stand up and tell a bunch of online charlatans that the emperor wears no clothes. I’m not going to pretend I wasn’t nervous about what would happen; I was. I didn’t know how or even if it would end. If they were as big and powerful as they imply, it could turn a lot of readers and agents and publishing house against me. It could cost me friends and hurt my business. Instead, it didn’t do much of anything. They’re not that big OR powerful. Neither am I, but neither are they. They’re also not all that helpful to people they profess to want to help – authors and would be authors.

      Hopefully, I am.

      I want to help people and sell books, in that order. I think I prove that every day, right here and on Twitter. I don’t believe they can say that.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. But I am glad you did enter, at least you could do this 🙂 Put them in their places, I mean..

        And, you are right, we are always afraid of the straw men, we imagine them to be ogres, real terrible demons. But once you start fighting, and if you have propriety on your side, then no one can stop you and these straw men just burst into flames.
        Thank you for being a good person, Dan.. I really appreciate it.. and not just that, thank you for your considerate reply and for not being dismissive about my (sometimes) frivolous comments.. I am glad you are a good person and more so, that I met you..

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Just when we thought we’ve heard it all. Nice detective work Dan! Good on you for speaking up. I often find myself wanting to comment on things I read and have to hold back for fear of backlash or trolls. It’s very hard for me to keep it zipped. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I can relate…when I first started, and of course I had the masterpiece of masterpieces…I entered one of those contests…spent $200.00 just to enter…and never even heard another thing from them…not even a thanks for entering…I could travel to New York to meet all of the famous publishers…yada yada…and the whole bit…I guess you have to fall for it once. Learned a great lesson NOT to ever do it again! Good post!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Yep! Really fast too! Inspired me to add a board on Pinterest about Publisher Scams…added your article there too 🙂 What did I know then anyway…that’s how they get you…newby authors! Am (somewhat) smarter now 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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