As I began my independent writing career, I found several (as in, dozens if not a hundred) of writing contests that wanted my work. Most of them asked for money, but the chance for exposure and prestige loomed large if I could just muster the funds.
Which contests should I enter?
Which ones would give me the most cachet?
I did my best to do due diligence. I found out about "vanity" awards, or "award mills." I knew enough to avoid the actual scams, or contests that didn't do what they promised, but which ones were worth my money?
I couldn't tell. There were conflicting reports. What qualifies an award as "vanity?" Some sources said that anything that cost money should be avoided--but I couldn't find many awards that didn't. Some said that, if they had more than three or five categories, they were vanity...but there are tons of books out there, in many different genres. Is that really the case?
I entered a few, won a silver medal in one, got valuable feedback from another. I would happily recommend the Wishing Shelf awards to any author, as they are inexpensive (under $50) and provide feedback from at least 15 readers. It took me a while to receive that feedback, but it was cross-posted to Amazon.co.uk and to Goodreads, which is a wonderful bonus.
Authors, I ask: Have you entered/won any writing competitions? How did you market your victory? Was it worth the time and/or money?
Readers, I ask: Does an author being "award-winning" mean anything to you? If you see that on a book cover, does it draw you in? What connotations does that phrase have for you?
Thank you in advance. I appreciate the feedback.
Jason P. Crawford