Award winning writing
We all know we write for the pure love if it (if you don’t, I’m not sure why you would put yourself through such torture). And because we write for the pure love of it there may be times when we question our sanity and wonder where this whole writing business is heading.
This writing bug has us firmly in its grasp and unless the ideas and words have an outlet and flow from our heads, down our arms and onto the page, we feel as if the build-up will surely cause a massive cranial explosion (MCE – not a pretty sight).
As you may (or may not) know, I have several writing awards under my belt (see my about me page for more info).
I’m certainly not waiting in line for the Booker Prize, but there is a great deal of satisfaction that comes with the thought that ‘someone in the industry’ likes your story. When I was new at this award business one of the judges said of my work, “This is true literature”. At the time I wasn’t sure how to take this, but going into a book store and looking at the Literature section now makes me feel truly humbled.
I haven’t entered my work into any awards for about two years. This is mainly due to the fact that I’ve been too busy to even contemplate it. However, in September this year I found I won the YouWriteOn Book of the Year Award for Soul’s Child (when I didn’t even know I was in the running – that was weird!)
I’ve had several bloggers recently ask me about marketing strategies. Writing for, and entering your work into, awards would have to come very close to the top of my effective marketing list.
The good thing about awards is that you get noticed by the right people. Publishers and Agents want to know what you’ve achieved with your work instead of knowing what you want to achieve. The fact that you’ve already put your work out there and have been judged by your peers and professionals in the industry can give you an advantage over a plethora of other manuscripts sitting on a publisher’s desk.
Now for some Do’s and Don’t’s
- Competitions and awards shouldn’t cost you an arm and a leg. Some of them are free (Amazon Breakthrough Novel award) and some of them only cost a few dollars. The most I would ever pay to enter one of my stories into a competition or award would be about $25.
- Make sure it’s an accepted and genuine competition or award. Look at the previous year’s winners and read through Writer Beware before you part with your hard-earned cash.
- Never sign anything that gives away all your publishing rights – one-off publishing rights are the norm and perfectly acceptable
- Do your research on the competition and don’t be a afraid to email the organisers and ask questions
- Read the rules very carefully (if they ask that the manuscript have no staples – don’t staple! They’ll end up throwing your work in the bin because they’ll know you can’t follow a simple instruction).
- Look into past winners. Most awards and competitions have past winners and their stories (or part thereof) will be available for you to read.
- Make sure you read stories that have won awards so you can see what the judges are looking for. To help you out with this one I’ve written out the first few paragraphs of some of my stories that have won awards. Read through them and ask yourself these questions:
- Why would someone like this?
- What did the judges see in this?
- Why would anyone want to keep reading this?
- Why is the beginning SO important?
One day soon I’ll write about how I
was forced into started entering my stories into awards.
Best of luck with yours!