Monday, July 24, 2017

Contests and Awards - Love Them, Hate Them, or No Opinion?

Contests are a great way to gain attention for your books. If you win or place, it’s added exposure and bragging rights for your book. Often you get a badge or sticker that can be placed on the book cover. We have dozens of opportunities listed on our Contests page.

Are they worth the time and money? Beverly Stowe McClure’s books have won dozens of contests and she’s here to share her thoughts on the subject.

Whatever you think about contests and awards, they are quite popular. When I agreed to write an article on this topic, I had no idea what I was getting into. Do you know how many contest and award programs there are? Too many to count. I discovered awards for almost any subject you can think of, whether you’re a writer, artist, or in most any profession. So, I had to decide which ones might be more interesting to readers of this blog, along with contests that I have personal experiences with. Yes, I enjoy contests, but not everyone does. Also, this is my opinion. You may think differently.

To start with, let’s look at contests you might want to enter. First, check to see if it’s free, or do they charge a fee. You can find this information by googling contests and going to the site. Warning, your eyes will bug out there are so many. No kidding. You’ll find the “big” ones, like the Nobel Prize for Literature, The Man Booker Prize, the Caldecott and Newbery Awards for children’s books, among many others. These do not charge fees, as far as I could find.

Some of the contests I’ve entered do have fees; others do not. My thinking on this is that the cost is part of marketing my books. Is it worth the price? Everyone has his/her own opinion about this. Winning and being a finalist boosts my ego and makes me think I’m doing something right. Being able to put a sticker on the book is so much fun. Here are some of the contests I’ve entered and the results. Maybe, if you’ve been thinking about entering a contest, this will give you a little more information.

1. Children’s Literary Classics Book Awards The fee is $95.00. Yes, that’s a lot of money, but I have four books that have won in different years: two gold, two silver. That’s encouragement. They also review your book, and writers know how important reviews are.

2. Eric Hoffer Book Award The fee is $55.00. I have a finalist here. They pay the winners in cash. Unfortunately, finalists only receive a certificate. These are not just for children’s books.

3. Next Generation Indie Book Awards They charge $75.00. I have two finalists here. These are books for all ages, too. They also pay the winners in cash. Again, I got certificates. One day…

Beware, though. I had a bad experience with one contest that no longer exists. The first time I sent a story to them, I won gold. It was a very prestigious contest, I thought. I believe it was a respected contest in the beginning, but the next year I entered, sent my $50.00, and waited and waited and waited. Time passed for announcing the winners, and I couldn’t find anyone to ask what was wrong. Another contestant emailed me with the news that her money had been refunded. The contest no longer existed. She gave me the contact person’s email, and he very nicely refunded my money. It seems another person, one of the judges, just quit. So, be careful. Find out about the awards before sending them your money. If they’re free, there’s no loss, except the cost of mailing your books.

To me, contests are fun, a way of letting others see my work. Has it resulted in more sales? Not that I can tell, but there’s always tomorrow. And who knows?

I could give you a list of contests and awards, but they’re easy to find on the Internet. There are contests for everyone, from non-fiction, to fiction for adults and for children. Even if you’re not in the writing business, you may have hobbies that can win awards. Google them. I found some interesting ones. You might even discover a story there.

So, love them, or hate them, or have no opinion. I like them.

Most of the time, you’ll find Beverly Stowe McClure at her computer, typing stories little voices whisper in her ears. When she’s not writing, she’s snapping pictures of wildlife, flowers and clouds. She’s sometimes known as the “Bug Lady.” She’s not telling why.

Remember - the IWSG Twitter pitch party, #IWSGPit, is Thursday, July 27, 2017. Polish your pitches and we’ll see you then!


nashvillecats2 said...

I think awards and contests are fun, some though are aimed at those who possess an electric reader which I don't have but on principal yes, they're fun.


L. Diane Wolfe said...

Thank you again, Beverly. You certainly know where to find awards - and how to win them.

Pat Hatt said...

They do sound like a great way to get some exposure and puff up the old ego if you win. Contests can be fun indeed. Good tip to do homework though, can be some sketchy ones...or ones that just quit.

Beverly Stowe McClure said...

Thank you, Yvonne, Diane, and Pat. The key, to me, is to have fun. But also be aware.

Ann Bennett said...

After I had read a children's book to use in my classroom, I almost always noticed that they had won a Newbery or Caldecott prize. These books had been selected by curriculum heads in the county I worked in. So prizes do help.

But for myself, I am not much for entering. A little success helps most of us and I rarely win.

Christine Rains said...

Awards and contests can be fun. I've had good and bad experiences with them. They're a great way of getting your work out there to new readers.

Sandee said...

If they aren't overdone. Use them sparingly and they are okay. They can be as bad as spam if they are overdone.

Have a fabulous day. ☺

Unknown said...

I've only entered a few, but I haven't really gone that far with them. Once, one of my books made it to a semi-finalist spot, but that's all.
Recently, I had a "finalist" in one that required me to sign up for a conference weekend to find out if I had gone any further in the contest. I couldn't make the weekend and something about the way it was worded made me wonder if it was all on the "up."

cleemckenzie said...

Very good article, Beverly. I haven't entered any contests, so this is great information.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

You know your stuff, Beverly. I've had good luck with the Pinnacle Book Awards - won three of them.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Many romance writers enter contest that will get their books in front of an agent or editor if they final. It's a lot of work to run a good contest so I don't blame those that charge.

Beverly Stowe McClure said...

When I was teaching, Ann, our fifth-grade students read Newbery winner and honor books for reports, and that's when I started reading them, too. They are awesome.

You're right, Christine. Many of the contests send out Press Releases and they sent me the PR so I could notify local libraries, newspapers, etc.

Good point, Sandee. In moderation. Choose the best.

It pays to be careful, John and Tyrean. Some of them are suspicious. Stay away from those, for sure.

Thanks, C Lee. Well, if you ever do decide to try a contest, my best wishes go to you. Your books are super and could very well be winners.

Three Pinnacle Book Awards! That's exciting, Alex. I've noticed the symbol on your blog. Congratulations. Well deserved.

A contest to get an agent or editor would be a great one, Susan. Yes, they're out some expenses. One of mine sent a medal and certificate. I don't mind paying, if I know they're legitimate. It's part of my marketing.

Deepa said...

I love awards and contests.I think everyone does.
But i guess everyone wants everyhting for free

Nice read there

Click Here to see what Mrs. Dash Says

Toi Thomas said...

Thank for your insights into contests. I used to pursue these but just stopped after a while. Maybe I'll try some again.

Mirka Breen said...

We're always competing, whether we call it thus. But, personally, I'd rather pretend it's not happening...

DMS said...

This was a timely post for me- as on my agenda I wrote to look into contests and awards. I have only entered one contest (one book, one short story). But, I would like to look into entering others. Thanks for all the great information, Beverly! Great job on the contests you have entered. :)

Denise Covey said...

Thanks for the article Beverley. I've not entered any contests and am not likely to.

Lux G. said...

I think awards can be great motivators and fulfilling too.

The Cynical Sailor said...

That's a really useful perspective on entering contests that charge fees. I've always wondered about them. Thanks for sharing.

Sherry Ellis said...

Excellent post on contests! Thanks for sharing your information!

Beverly Stowe McClure said...

Dee Dee: Free awards and contests would be great, but I guess they have to cover their expenses someway. Some contests have sponsors that take care of that. Others do not.

Tor: You're welcome. I don't do too many contests, but once in awhile it's fun.

Mirka: True. Competition can be good or bad. It's good because we try to do our best. It's bad when we don't reach our goals. So, we have a choice to do whatever we prefer.

DMS: Great! I'm so happy you're considering contests and awards. I'd say you have a great chance of winning. Enjoy and good luck.

Denise: You're welcome and contests are a personal choice, for sure. We're all different and should do what makes us happy.

Lux: You bet they are.If we do good it's rewarding. If not so good we can always try harder to improve.

Cynical Sailor: Thanks. It's just part of my marketing expenses. I do set a limit though. The key is to know how much to spend and is it worth it. Also be sure the contest is not a rip off.

Sherry: Thank you. My pleasure.

J.Q. Rose said...

Thanks for sharing your experiences with contests. I understand there has to be a fee to cover expenses, but I am not a gambler. I don't even buy lottery tickets. If I spend a $1 for a ticket, I want results for sure, so I buy a candy bar. If I send in money for a contest, I would at least like a sticker for my book and that is definitely no guarantee. Best wishes in your writing career!

Beverly Stowe McClure said...

Thanks, J. Q. You make some good points. It is disappointing not to win. I've had a lot of those. Sometimes the candy bar is the best bet. Have a great rest of the weekend.