There is a lot to love in the new contest Lulu just announced. Instead of judging a contest based on content (which never fully allows for huge variety of POD books out there) this contest is based solely on how well your book sells.

The book that sells the most copies in March gets $1500! Second place gets $750 and third $500 and runners up get additional smaller marketing benefits throughout the site. So even if you cannot reach that top spot, it is worth it to give it a try for the extra exposure. The prize money would also kick start your marketing budget and let you turn that into greater profits.

The deadline is March 31st, 2009 so you could literally publish a book that morning and selling a ton of copies and win the whole thing in a few hours. But I seriously doubt you could pull that off so don’t get any ideas. Put the book up now! šŸ˜‰ If you are self-published somewhere else but still own the rights to your book, make a special edition version on Lulu just for this contest. (These are all things that I would do if every blasted contest Lulu holds I was ineligible for!)

Now, this contest is restricted to printed books (no ebooks or audiobooks) and also does not count sales through distribution which can be a little annoying if that is where the bulk of your sales come from. But for most authors, books sold on Lulu make a higher profit than books sold through distribution at the same price so it gives you the potential to make far more money per sale. It also doesn’t count copies that the author buys his or herself so don’t think you can buy yourself victory on this one.

The full contest rules can be found here (Read it carefully, there are a few odd restrictions. I only read up to the part where I am ineligible and got sad and closed the PDF.) The sign-up is also available here and is very simple (just give them the email on your Lulu account, agree to the terms and click Enter).

But what I really like about this is that it rewards exactly the sort of behavior that self-published authors so often overlook. It encourages authors to go out there and market their book. It has always scared me how many people do nothing more than post their book online and then are shocked and horrified that buyers didn’t just magically find them. This contest encourages authors to get out there and promote their works in exchange for a prize which will hopefully start some habits that will serve them well in the future.

From Lulu’s standpoint, it’s also pretty brilliant. It encourages people to direct buyers to the site and authors to sell more books, ensuring an extra influx of cash right when they economy is getting tight. Crafty!

Now, for you authors planning to enter this contest, promise me one thing. Please market your book intelligently and don’t just spam everyone. Can you do that? My fear is that this announcement will just create a rise in terrible marketing practices. Prove me wrong, people!