Skip to main content

The Benefit of Contests

I have a new found love for entering contests for unpublished authors. I couldn’t believe that there were so many contests available. The reason I would recommend contests are because this can add weight to query letters. You can also  receive valuable feedback that will help you revise and learn to receive critiques in a helpful way. The drawbacks to entering are the fees, rules and if I must say the waiting time to find out who won! Some contests ask that you not shop your novel for a specified amount of time so make sure you read the fine print, and know the benefits and drawbacks to each contest you choose to enter. Here is a great table of contests created by author Stephie Smith. Also another list of contests can be found on the Funds for Writers website along with writing grant opportunities. 

The following list of companies/websites is from my own experience entering their contests (except for the Leap Frog and Amazon):

Romance Writers of America (RWA) has a cool and long list of contests from all their chapters for unpublished and published writers where romance is a part of the story. Below are 4 of the contests I liked the best because of the value I got from entering them. First Kiss/The Smooch (New England  &  Yosemite  Chapters) in which I missed the deadlines but so wanted to enter! Fool for Love Contest* (Virginia Chapter) in which I decided to revise my first edited draft of Destiny Chronicles based off of the fabulous critiques I received. And I also must mention the Great Beginnings Contest (Utah Chapter), Winter Rose Contest (Yellow Rose Chapter) and the Four Seasons Contest contests in which Golden Dreg Boy was a finalist in 2014.
Although these contests cost ($15-35 per entry) and for some you have to be a member of RWA, they are worth it. The RWA provides feedback from judges who are usually established authors, editors or agents. If an agent happens to read your work then you’ll get feedback from that agent (which is near impossible to get on your own) and in some cases they request partials or fulls of work they've read. Awards are usually contest winner logos, a gift card or a refund of contest fee.                                                                                                                                
Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award is an annual award that gives the biggest cash prizes for the winners. 50,000 advance and publishing contract for grand prize inner and 15,000 royalty advance for finalists. Open for entries from February to March each year or until 10,000 entries is received, the winners are announced in August. Benefit: Hugely recognized contest and great platform (Amazon) for selling books. Drawbacks: Your entry is subject to each judges standards and likes on a particular day which means one round you might get through because a judge favors vampires and YA while if your entry was given to another judge they could be sick of both and pass. The contract is "standard" and as far as I know non-negotiable - which never favors both parties. but 50,000 that is an unheard of advance for a new debut author.
Writer's Digest is a great too because they have various categories to enter (crime, horror, sci-fi, romance, thriller, self-published, poetry). Usually you have to enter at the end of previous year to be eligible for their contests. The winner announcements seem to fall in May/June. Again there are fees for these contests as well. There are many awards and perks for just entering contest. 
The Great Novel Contest for unpublished authors by Columbus Creative Cooperative is a good contest to enter too for unpublished POLISHED novels. The prize is a contract or money (currently 1,000). The deadline is in the end of January for that year and there are fees as well. Winner receives choice of a Columbus Press publishing contract or a $1,000 cash prize and public recognition for their achievement.                                      
Leap Frog Press has a contest for unpublished authors for Adult Fiction and Children's Fiction (middle grade and YA only). They accept "any novella- or novel-length work of fiction, including short-story collections, not previously published". Currently the cost is $30 and contest is open from January 15 to May 1. Awards for finalists are money, critiques from contest judges; permanent listing on the Leapfrog Press contest page. Winner gets a publication offer from Leapfrog Press, with an advance payment, plus the finalist awards.                  
Maine Media Workshops & College is a contest that is based on "Portraits and Stories that Reveal the Human Condition where writers, photographers and videographers are invited to share prose, poetry, pictures or a moment on video that reveals the essence of someone's life." This contest has one of the shortest time frames from entry time to the time it takes for the winner announced. (2014, enter June-Sept and winners announced in October.) Grand price is $1,000 (2014)! Currently the cost is $20.                                          
Chanticleer Book Review & Media has plenty of contests to offer. I was surprised because I only knew them as book reviewers. They even have an after NaNaWriMo writing competition. Currently the costs range from $15 - $45.                                          
Writers Type has 3 contests (flash fiction, short story and first chapter) which are offered quarterly (Jan - March 2 --- Apr - June 3 --- July - Sept 4 and Oct - Dec) giving writers 4 times a year to enter vs. most contests that offer only annual entries. "The winning author names, websites, and the text of their submissions are published on website". A contests top 6 ranked winners are automatically entered into annual contest. The benefit of entering these contests is for exposure.
Women on Writing (WOW) promotes the communications between women writers, authors, editors, agents, publishers and readers. They have a flash fiction contest which is offered quarterly (March-May, June-Aug, Sept-Nov, Dec-Feb). The prizes are pretty good and the fee is $10 ($20 if you buy a critique with it).

InkTears is a U.K. contest open to all. They hold 2 annual contests, one for flash fiction (runs until  July 31) and one for short stories (opens Aug 1). There are six prizes awarded by the InkTears judging panel: Winner: £250, Runner-up: £50 and 4x Highly Commended: £25 and the stories (*in print) and BIOs (*online) are *published. The benefit of entering these contests is for exposure.

Pipeline Contest 1st Annual Book Contest was first conducted In 2014. "Connecting authors and playwrights with Hollywood." They are searching for material "well-suited" for film or TV adaption. This contest is great if you own your rights and think you book/script has potential. Winners and finalists get airfare and entrance to Pipeline event where winner is announced, $1000 cash prize, meetings with 4 companies to discuss "further development'". Pipeline launched in 1999 for scripts and has launched the career of Snow White and Huntsman writer Evan Daugherty and they are responsible for the adaptions of major projects Divergent, Ninja Turtles and GI Joe 3. Also a short turnaround from entry to winner announcement (September 15th- November 15th). Currently the cost is $50. I decided to enter this contest because I figure if I can get a movie or TV deal then a book deal will definitely come AND I'll have much more control of the deal at that point. Backwards, I know but we don't all have to follow the traditional path to publishing.


Popular posts from this blog

Advice for Writers

The Best advice I can give to writers can be summed up in five tips and is partly what I've read, heard or learned on my writing journey.    First  – Keep writing and be ready. Write as many novels (and short story, poems, essays, etc.) as you can. Learn how to write a synopsis and query if you plan on submitting to agents and publishers. Learn the mechanics of writing and structuring a story. Take classes, enter contests, find mentors, work with beta readers, critique partners and editors - all with the goal of improving your skills and making your novels better. Second  – The road to getting published is not for the faint of heart. If you can’t learn to live with constant rejection then you might not want to publish your work.   Writers must grow thick skin. We are going to be judged by our work constantly and must remember why we write in order to overcome haters, trolls or simply people who don't like our work/style. Not everyone is going to like your work

Query Wins for Me

I am getting ready to query again after about a six-month hiatus and looked back through my records of responses and was quite pleased.  In the past, I’ve had many close calls. I’ve had full requests from publishers and agents alike for a few different books I queried. I could have given up with the mounting rejections but the rejections I’ve gotten over the last year and a half have MOSTLY been inspiring. This might not make sense to anyone who hasn’t been through the querying trenches but there is such a thing as a good rejection. A good “no” per se. In posting this I want to say that if you are a writer seeking publication, you need to keep writing, revising and editing…but especially keep submitting. Here are a few of my rejections: “I loved the concept and was riveted by the world you have created, but ultimately I just didn’t fall in love with the voice. It’s not for me, but I wish you the best of luck in your search for representation.” ‘There was so much he

Agent Protocol & Questions When You Get an Offer

Agent  Protocol - W hat is the standard protocol when dealing with agents? Should you respond to a "no" from an agent with a polite thank you? Although we want to be courteous to agents who take the time to look over our submission materials, you have to remember than they get a ton of emails a day and if everyone who got a no responded with a thank you or anything else then they would get inundated with more emails. Can you respond by asking why or for more in depth feedback? Agents aren't here to make us feel good or give us feedback-plain and simple.  If feedback is what you are looking for then find a good beta reader or critique group, enter a contest or a Twitter pitch party. If you enter a Twitter pitch party and an agent favorites your pitch sometimes if they reject you, they will give you a little feedback.  When should you nudge? If an agent hasn't responded to your query and it is two weeks past their normal response time then I would say nudge. Howe