Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Are Contests a Winner?

What are your views on writing contests? Are you a big fan and a prolific competitor? Do you think having one or more awards helps your career and/or book sales as an author? Do they present you with an interesting challenge, or do you feel they are a waste of time?

Until this year, I'd never even considered entering a writing competition. I'd looked at a few and read blog posts on those who had entered and even been placed in various writing awards, but hadn't felt the need for it myself. I'm still not sure of the benefits, and at the moment have no plans to write anything purely for competition purposes. However ...

A book review site that I've written a few reviews for posted a short story competition a while back. They wanted a fantasy short between 2,000 and 5,000 words. By coincidence, I happened to be working on a fantasy short that came within that range, an oddity in itself! For one thing, I haven't written fantasy in almost 25 years and short stories are not my strong point. There's no award for winning. My interest was completely mercenary - the prize is an iPad, or two runner-ups get a Kindle, squee! So I went for it. Winners aren't being announced until November, but I'm trying not to get my hopes up. After all, I read stuff every day that I rate as good or better than my own.

But it got me thinking. I know various people who've entered competitions. I know you have to be wary about some of them. Does it really make that much difference to an author how many and what kind of awards they win? Does it encourage readers? Does it improve sales? Does it help you pitch a book if it won an award? I really don't know.

I've never been one for competitions but I've found myself looking some up over the past week. Maybe the fact that I've had my first book contracted by a publisher has finally convinced me I have something worthwhile of an award. That my lack of confidence is misplaced. Or maybe because I see so many of my fellow authors so excited over the whole process. Maybe I'm missing out on the fun. Whichever, I'm considering that next year I may put my book in for one or two contests. Anyone want to recommend some? :)

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