As an experienced author, you know that writing and promoting are two very different aspects of your work. With today's competitive market for books, most of us realize that we need to work on promoting ourselves as a brand as much as working at our main craft.
How can writing contests help to spark a writing career? Writing contests may offer cash awards but they should also give you as an author, a sense of satisfaction and help to boost your confidence. These contests are also a great help in getting more exposure, and for you and most other writers, promoting yourself as an author is the one of the toughest parts of the job.
Writing Contests Can Help You To Get Noticed
Winning a writing contest does not clear the path to becoming a best-selling author. However, placing high in a quality competition can help you to gain recognition from both readers and professionals who work in the publishing industry. The right people might notice the names of contest winners in their social media feeds or on the blog of their favorite book blog. This also gives you an opportunity to spread the good news on your own platform when you have won.
Contests can also help your work to gain wider distribution. Very often, the organization behind the contest will publish any pieces that win and some will publish the pieces that make it to the semifinals, as well. The work may be published in an issue of a magazine or in an anthology. When readers get a taste of your work, the hope is that they will want more. This should make it easier to sell a self-published book, find a publisher or even, to get more writing jobs.
Even if you don't win, it can be a great opportunity to learn and to improve. The judges will usually provide feedback for all entries so this is an excellent way to learn what you could improve upon to have a better chance to win the next contest.
Be sure that the piece you wrote is proofread, edited and formatted according to the instructions. It is also wise to make sure there are no errors on the submission form.
How To Tell If Contests Are Worth It
Sadly, some contests are not worth your time and effort. Organizers may run them for their own benefit and not provide much for authors at all. Typically, the goal of fake contests is to take money in the form of entry fees. While some legitimate contests have entry fees, you need to be sure that you can truly get any value for your money.
The most common kind of contests with no value are run by so-called vanity publishers. The winners, which may be everybody who enters, will earn the chance to pay to publish their own work. These kinds of vanity publishers do little or nothing to actually promote the books that they publish. Their main goal is to charge authors to publish books that they will deliver back to the writer, leaving them on their own to sell the books.
In these cases, you would be better off to look for better contests or find some other way to promote yourself. It is fine to self-publish but there are cheaper ways to do it through services like Amazon's CreateSpace or Kindle Direct Publishing.
Even best-selling authors will agree that writing is a tough business. One of the main benefits of winning a contest may simply be the simple validation awarded to you that you have been recognized by your peers. This could give you that spark of motivation and confidence that is needed to forge ahead with your masterpiece.
Brad Cooper is a successful business operator and freelance writer. He shares his tips and advice for entering sweepstakes on his website,