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Thursday, November 1, 2007

Thursday's Tip: Pros and Cons of entering contests by Deb Raney

PROS:
*A chance to get your book in front of readers who might not otherwise pick them up (especially a chance to share your faith with secular readers.)

*Winners get free advertising via the contest Web site, print ads in publications like Romantic Times BookClub, RWR, etc., and word of mouth.

*A trophy, medal or certificate to remind myself that someone once thought I was a decent writer. ; )

*Publishers seem to like being able to call you an “award-winning author” (next best thing to “best-selling author”?) on book covers, in endorsement taglines, catalog copy, advertising, etc.

*It’s nice to have a list of awards to put on your bio and as part of proposals. This is probably more valuable to unpublished writers than published, but either way, awards are a way of recognizing excellence (or at least what several people perceived as excellence.) I’ve also had publishers put mention of the awards on the cover of the books when they went back to press, which is a nice and permanent recognition.

CONS:
*It can get expensive. My publishers are almost always willing to provide a case or so of books for entries, but I pay the entry fees and shipping out of my own pocket. I enter 8-10 contests a year and spend around $2-300 in entry fees and postage. (Fees range anywhere from $15 to $40 plus 3-5 books per entry, plus shipping.)

*It can be time consuming filling out entry forms, packaging up books, etc.

*It can feel like a rejection and a waste of money if you don’t even final.

*It can give you a severe case of puffed-uppedness if you let a win go to your head.

*It can give you a false sense of your book’s success since award-winning does NOT equate bestselling (in fact, from what I hear, often the opposite it true.)

*Some of these awards have been heavily “overrun” with erotica categories/titles, so that in any advertising (or even an internet search) your book may appear alongside one with a very suggestive cover or title.

A few contests I routinely enter because of their value in recognition (prestige), Web presence, advertising, etc. include:
The RITA (judged by published authors)

The HOLT Medallion (judged by readers)

The National Readers’ Choice Award (judged by readers)

The Colorado Romance Writers Award of Excellence (judged by readers and professionals)

The Booksellers’ Best Award (judged by booksellers)

The ACFW Book of the Year Award (judged by writers and professionals)

The FH&L Inspirational Readers Choice Contest (judged by readers)

The Golden Quill (judged by readers)

More Than Magic Contest (judged by ??)

Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence (judged by readers and booksellers)

Winter Rose Contest (judged by ??)

I’ve stopped entering certain contests (including several in the above list) because they really don’t offer anything in return—no mention on a Web page, no ads in publications for winners and finalists, very little prestige associated with the award, etc. And while I still see getting my book in front of secular readers as an important reason for entering, I’ve had to weigh each contest’s offer carefully against the expense and time involved.

The Christy Award and The Christian Book Awards (formerly the Gold Medallion) are the granddaddy of CBA awards for fiction, but books have to be entered by the publisher, so those are out of my hands.

Some authors find more value in contests judged by readers, others feel those judged by their peers or by booksellers carry more weight. It sort of depends on what you see as the most important reasons to enter.

The above are all contests for published authors (and most lean toward romance) but many of them have a counterpart for unpublished authors ( Golden Heart/RITA, IRCC/Touched by Love, etc.)

There are also contests for both published and unpublished for more specialized genres such as the Daphne du Maurier for mystery writers.

Deborah Raney
NOW IN BOOKSTORES! WITHIN THIS CIRCLE, sequel to A VOW TO CHERISH
The novel that inspired the award-winning film from World Wide Pictures
REMEMBER TO FORGET, a Clayburn Novel from Howard Books/Simon & Schuster
Visit my website at: http://www.deborahraney.com

1 comment:

Christina Berry said...

This was very interesting, Deb! Thanks for sharing the info.