Thursday, January 6, 2011

Writing Contests: Worth It?

I've never officially entered a writing contest before - I tried a short story competition, but my check was never cashed. Here are a few contests in the US with a proven track record, which is always important when you're considering entry fees and the validity of particular contests. I have yet to decide whether I'll enter any of these. If you're interested, check them out:

1. Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award (entries due January 24 - February 6)

Each year since 2007, Amazon, Penguin Group USA, and Amazon's subsidiary CreateSpace, have co-sponsored a contest to publish the work of an author in General and Young Adult Fiction categories. The grand prize is a publishing contact, which includes a $15,000 advance against future royalties. There is no fee to enter this contest. I'd have to get going with that required pitch pretty soon if I want to participate. This one's open to published, unpublished, and self-published authors.

2. 19th Annual Writer's Digest Self-Published Book Awards (deadline April 15)

This is an annual competition, involving ten categories of submissions. The grand prize is a trip to NYC to meet with agents / editors (wonder how that works for those of us who live in NYC already), and $3000 (yes, that's three thousand US dollars). Entry judging fee of $100 for all books published between 2006 and 2011. Requires a printed, bound copy of your book; no PDF files.

3. Annual Writer's Digest Competition (deadline May 2)

Actually, there's a late deadline on May 20, but let's think positive and avoid procrastinating, shall we? Essentially the same grand prize as the contest above, but again, check the entry requirements for other rules and the lower entry fee. No, I'm not going to comment on why the entry fee for this Writer's Digest contest is lower than the self-publishing contest above. There are times I do get up on my soapbox, but this won't be one of them.   

If you choose to enter any of these contests, as with anything that requires you to fork over some of your hard-earned cash, be sure to check out contest details thoroughly. The Writer Beware Blog has great information and analysis of various writing contests, here and here most recently. And, good luck with your entry!


Holly Ruggiero said...

Several of my blogging buddies entered the Amazon one last year and I think a few are going to try it this year too.

Lisa Yarde said...

Thanks Holly, I'm only familiar with Paul Reid's Cruel Harvest which won Amazon Breakthrough in 2009. Even if I don't participate, I'm supporting two writers who will be entering.

N. Gemini Sasson said...

Being a two-time entrant, I have mixed opinions on ABNA. The great thing is that it's free. I met a few wonderful writers through it and the ABNA boards are a great place to hang out. The reviews are luck of the draw, as with any contest. Whether you get a good one or not-so-good really depends on who ends up with it.

There are a couple of things I didn't like about last year. One is that they converted the ms's and their excerpts to Kindle so that the reviewers could read them on their devices. This would have been great, except that the directions for formatting ms's did not include the specific steps to produce a properly formatted Kindle version. On most ms's, key aspects of the formatting were stipped out - leaving no italics or paragraph indents. Very messy to read and I'm sure this put some of the reviewers in a tetchy mood. Also, Amazon posted the reviews for the 10K word excerpt on my later published book's Amazon page. Eeek! Since I didn't want potential readers to think they would only be getting an excerpt, I requested that they remove them and they eventually did, but it took almost two weeks.

BTW, Paul Reid's book was a semi-finalist in 2009 and his book was later published by Amazon Encore as a result of being seen there. Loved the book and I'm looking forward to his next one. They also picked up at least half a dozen other books from the contest.

Marquita Hockaday said...

These are some interesting contests. Especially the Amazon one. I might have to enter that :) BTW, I follow you on Twitter and just now discovered your blog. I like it!

Marquita Hockaday said...

Oh...and I also write historical (and contemporary) YA fiction :)

Lisa Yarde said...

Thanks Gemi and Marquita.

Gemi, here I was thinking Reid had won the contest. It's great that they decided to pick him up and the three others.

Marquita, thanks for following on Twitter and here, always great to get to know another writer.

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