The Shameful Fake Writing Awards of Melissa Foster

Of the authors at the center of “review” schemes, Melissa Foster was one of the most egregious. Melissa Foster’s scams revolved around questionable awards, questionable reviews, and questionable promotion tactics involving friends, family, and other authors.

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Melissa Foster is the poster child for fake writing awards. Legitimate awards are highly selective and recognized throughout the publishing industry. Legitimate awards have strict rules and careful oversight. At the least, authors must be nominated by their publishers, bookstores, library staff. Books are only eligible for the year they were published and only in a specific category/genre. Legitimate awards launch careers and establish author leaders in the industry.

Illegitimate awards come from companies that are neither highly selective nor recognized throughout the publishing industry. Illegitimate awards don’t have strict rules or careful oversight. Illegitimate awards allow anyone willing to pay their entry fees to enter. They allow authors to enter a book in many categories and as many times as they like and for as many years as they like. If an author enters books over and over for as many years and in many categories as Foster did, a win is almost assured. In fact, entering the same books over and over in multiple categories over many years assured Melissa Foster of multiple wins.

Awards she couldn’t win through this method? Melissa Foster appears to have recruited author friends and others to volunteer as judges. When Melissa Foster won, Melissa Foster then acted as a judge in a different year to return the favor. She became so adept at the scheme she even tried to start her own awards program in 2011.

One of the many illegitimate awards Melissa Foster has won is the Beach Book award. Beach Book award is run by an outfit out of California that allows an author to enter as many books as they want for as many years as they want as long as they pay $50 for each book entered. The same company runs 17 identical award programs with different names:

Green Book award
Hollywood Book award
San Francisco Book award
Beach Book award
Paris Book award
New York Book award
New England Book award
DIY Book award
London Book award
Halloween Book award
Los Angeles Book award
Great Northwest Book award
Great Southwest Book award
Great Southeast Book award
Southern California Book award
Animals, Animals, Animals Book award
Great Midwest Book award

There’s even this multiple entry form that allowed Melissa Foster to enter her book in all 17 award programs at the same time.

Other illegitimate awards of Melissa Foster allowed her to enter as many books as she wanted for as many years as she wanted in as many categories as she could afford to pay for each time. One book entered in 7 categories? Sure. One book entered each year until it was a winner? Sure. Didn’t win, get a friend to volunteer judge to win next time. Sure.

How many illegitimate awards does Melissa Foster have? 12 at last count – and the aforementioned company isn’t even the worst of the fake awards.

The worst fake awards? That honor goes to Reader’s Favorite an award Melissa Foster has 5 – YES FIVE – medals from.

Reader’s Favorite allows authors to enter as many books for as many years as they want. Each entered book can be registered in up to four categories. The fee for entering one book in four categories: $284.

Reader’s Favorite has awards in 100 categories:

Children – Animals
Children – Concept
Children – Educational
Children – Fable
Children – Fantasy/Sci-Fi
Children – General
Children – Grade K-3rd
Children – Grade 4th-6th
Children – Non Fiction
Children – Picture/Pop up
Children – Preschool
Children – Preteen

Young Adult – Coming of Age
Young Adult – Fantasy/Sci-Fi
Young Adult – General
Young Adult – Horror
Young Adult – Mystery
Young Adult – Non Fiction

Christian – Amish
Christian – Biblical Counseling
Christian – Devotion/Study
Christian – Fantasy/Sci-Fi
Christian – Fiction
Christian – General
Christian – Historical Fiction
Christian – Living
Christian – Non Fiction

Fiction – Action
Fiction – Adventure
Fiction – Animals
Fiction – Anthology
Fiction – Chick Lit
Fiction – Cultural
Fiction – Drama
Fiction – Fantasy
Fiction – General
Fiction – Historical
Fiction – Horror
Fiction – Humor
Fiction – Intrigue
Fiction – Mystery – General
Fiction – Mystery – Historical
Fiction – Mystery – Sleuth
Fiction – Paranormal
Fiction – Realistic
Fiction – Science Fiction
Fiction – Southern
Fiction – Sports
Fiction – Supernatural
Fiction – Suspense
Fiction – Tall Tale
Fiction – Thriller – General
Fiction – Thriller – Terrorist
Fiction – Urban
Fiction – Western
Fiction – Womens

Non Fiction – Animals
Non Fiction – Autobiography
Non Fiction – Biography
Non Fiction – Business/Finance
Non Fiction – Cook Book
Non Fiction – Cultural
Non Fiction – Drama
Non Fiction – Education
Non Fiction – Genealogy
Non Fiction – General
Non Fiction – Gov/Politics
Non Fiction – Grief
Non Fiction – Health – Fitness
Non Fiction – Health – Medical
Non Fiction – Historical
Non Fiction – Hobby
Non Fiction – Home/Crafts
Non Fiction – Humor
Non Fiction – Inspirational
Non Fiction – Memoir
Non Fiction – Military
Non Fiction – Motivational
Non Fiction – Music/Ent.
Non Fiction – Occupational
Non Fiction – Parenting
Non Fiction – Relationships
Non Fiction – Religion/Phil.
Non Fiction – Retirement
Non Fiction – Self Help
Non Fiction – Sports
Non Fiction – True Crime

Romance – Christian
Romance – Contemporary
Romance – Fantasy/Sci-Fi
Romance – General
Romance – Historical
Romance – Suspense

Short Story – Fiction
Short Story – Non Fiction

Poetry – General
Poetry – Inspirational
Poetry – Love/Romance

Audio Books
Graphic Novel/Comic

In each of the 100 categories, Reader’s Favorite has four winners each calendar year: Gold, Silver, Bronze, and Honorable mention. Reader’s Favorite also gives out awards to so-called finalists, so there’s a Finalist award as well.

Based on the number of winners and finalists in award years 2009 to 2012 it was easy to determine how many books were entered in most categories.

If a category had two entries. There were two finalists and eventually two so-called winners: a gold and a silver.

If a category had three entries. There were three finalists and eventually three so-called winners: a gold, a silver, and a bronze.

If a category had four entries. There were four finalists and eventually four so-called winners: a gold, a silver, a bronze, and a honorable mention.

If a category had five entries. There were five finalists and eventually five so-called winners: a gold, a silver, a bronze, a honorable mention, and a finalist medal winner.

If a category had six entries. There were six finalists and eventually six so-called winners: a gold, a silver, a bronze, a honorable mention, and two finalist medal winners.

If a category had seven entries. There were seven finalists and eventually seven so-called winners: a gold, a silver, a bronze, a honorable mention, and three finalist medal winners.

If a category had eight entries. There were eight finalists and eventually eight so-called winners: a gold, a silver, a bronze, a honorable mention, and four finalist medal winners.

Awards seemed to top out with 8 so-called winners. In fact, in our research of the award years 2009 to 2012 we couldn’t find any book that was entered that wasn’t a gold, silver, bronze, honorable mention, or finalist medal winner.

Talk about incentive to keep entering year after year. No wonder Melissa Foster kept entering her books in this contest year after year.

The blogging team at Zon Alert has a real award for Melissa Foster. It’s the only real award she’s earned and deserved. It’s the 2013 Biggest Fake Gold Award.

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