Each day, WordPress.com bloggers nominate each other for at least 22 awards. (I arrived at this rough estimate by searching posts tagged with “Awards” and counting those published in 24 hours.)
So far, this blog has been nominated for three, and The Liebster Award is by far my favorite, as it reflects the philosophy behind this blog. As YA writer Annie Cardi said, “The Liebster is designed to encourage bloggers who are new or don’t have a huge following, which I think is awesome.”
So, if it’s such a fantastic way to encourage bloggers, why is the response rate to nominations close to zero? So far, I’ve nominated a total of 28 blogs and only one—fellow fountain pen enthusiast Jack Spratt—decided to pass the award through. That’s a whopping 3.57% response rate! (Disclaimer: I’m neither upset nor bitter.) [Edit: Xarglebook apparently responded as well, increasing the response rate to 7.14%.]
WASTE OF TIME?
Perhaps it’s not surprising, considering the amount of time required to post a response to award nominations. Julie Israel was kind enough to respond to my little survey, amidst her busy schedule in getting her sci-fi thriller, “Shifters”, published:
Awards are like the blog equivalent of networking. They’re a good way to get to connect with other bloggers in ways you might not have before (so many encourage us to share “facts” about ourselves) and find new bloggers, too. Both of those (connecting with new/similar bloggers as well as mutually expanding readership) are pros, in my opinion.
However, I do find that participating can be time-consuming, which is a big negative– it detracts from other posts we might rather be reading or writing!
If it’s time-consuming, why do bloggers keep handing each other these awards? “Vanity of vanities. All is vanity,” said Tony from A Way With Words, fellow recipient of The Liebster. Sure, vanity is undoubtedly at play, but are there other pros to compensate for this big negative?
A WAY TO DISCOVER NEW BLOGS
Since I posted The Liebster Award, it has generated at least two click-throughs to each of the nominees’ blogs, for a total of 24. The post itself has been viewed 60 times in total, which means almost half of them result in click-throughs. (Of course, some visitors click on more than one nominee’s link and most don’t click at all.) A. L. Watson of Writin’ Fish even said explicitly, “Thanks for the shout-out (and for the list of other authors/bloggers I’m having fun checking out)!”
The Parasite Guy, who has recently been nominated for the Liebster himself, confirmed:
To be honest, I can think of a few reasons why these awards keep going around. For starters, they tend to be excellent prompts for posts. Mainly, however, I think that they’re a good way to make people aware of each other’s blogs; I tend to look through the nominated blogs when I see award posts.
Beside their obvious social-networking elements, blog awards are a way of showing that we appreciate someone else’s work; telling others to keep blogging. Jerseyan blogger Roy McCarthy said, “I don’t really ‘get’ blog awards but I’m always flattered if I get a nice mention.” Another blogger, L. Marie, also said, “When I started blogging, I didn’t know if anyone besides my family and friends would read my blog. After all, there are so many blogs. So, it’s nice to have a virtual pat on the back.”
Ultimately, the writer’s journey is a lonely one, as Jeff Yeager wrote in the Writer’s Digest recently:
When it comes to peer support, we are more fortunate than writers of old. Writers are an insecure breed—we ask ourselves constantly, “Is someone going to read this stuff?” We are fortunate to have fellow writers who support us every step of the way, who read our work as we publish them, who show their appreciation even from the other side of the earth. We are fortunate that we can connect instantly with readers everywhere; garner their encouragement in what we do, every day.
Melissa Janda wrote this beautiful response to my survey for this post:
Writing is an emotionally volatile experience. One day you’re up, soaring high, feeling like you can conquer the world. You can do this thing… become a published author. The next day you hit rock bottom, doubting every word that you’ve placed on the page. What am I thinking? I’ll never be good enough. This is crap.
Then you read something that another blogger has written in a post. It may make you laugh or cry or stare in wonder at the beauty of the writing. You’re inspired, uplifted, re-energized. You want to let them know what their words mean to you. You comment on their post. They reply. A connection is made.
Writing is a solitary pursuit. You sit alone at a computer and pour your innermost thoughts and feelings onto the page. Like Hemingway said, “All you do is sit at the typewriter and bleed.” It’s encouraging to know you’re not alone, someone can relate to something you’ve written and that affirmation is more precious than gold. It gives us the strength to set aside the doubts and press on.
Awards are a way to show your appreciation to the writer who inspired or encouraged you. You can even view them as badges of courage. It takes courage to be a writer because with it comes judgment. It’s inevitable. Whether you like it or not, the words you put on a page will be critiqued and not everyone will like what you have to say. Those can be dark times for a writer.
The awards are a way of shining a little light on that darkness… saying, ‘Yes, you are good enough.’