There are a number of different award opportunities for self-published books, and many of them can offer great exposure and/or cash prizes for indie authors. Some of these awards can be truly beneficial opportunities for writers. But some of them are scams, and others just aren’t worth the time and cost of entry. So how do you know which ones to enter? How do you know if a contest is legitimate?
Here are some things to consider before entering a contest or competition:
Make sure that the contest you’re entering has a category for your genre. Not all judges are going to be familiar enough with your genre to judge it well, and some might not even consider books in a particular genre. So before you waste time and money entering, make sure that this is an appropriate competition for your work.
It’s important to take a look at the history of any given award. How long has the contest existed? Who has won it in the past? A newer award isn’t necessarily a scam, but it’s best to be cautious when entering a newer competition. Also, consider the fact that a new award won’t automatically earn the same respect as one that’s been around for decades.
This may seem obvious, but be sure to weigh the cost against the potential benefits. Consider not only the entry fee but also any additional costs it might incur (postage for submitting your entry, for example). Be sure to weigh your time as a cost, too. Can this truly offer a good return on your investment?
What does the winner of the contest receive? Don’t just look at cash prizes here, but also potential promotional benefits.Does the award offer some form of promotional opportunity? What about networking opportunities?
- Terms and Conditions
Pay very close attention to the terms and conditions of the competition. Always read the fine print before you enter anything, but especially if some form of publication is involved (for example, if your first chapter or short story will be published in an anthology or online). Make sure that you’re not giving away important rights just by entering. Be familiar with all of the rules, restrictions, and conditions of any contest you enter—and if you’re unsure, do your research.
Many indie book awards include the professional appearance of your book as one of their criteria. Make sure that the cover, formatting, editing, and other elements of your book are up to professional standards before entering. You should want to do this anyway, but it’s especially important if you’re considering a competition.
Another element to consider is whether or not you’ll receive feedback from the judges. You might be able to learn a lot from their commentary on your work, and it’s never too late to keep learning as a writer. Plus, you might be able to use positive feedback in promotional materials (although you also might not, as different contests have different rules.) On the other hand, not all writers like to receive feedback on their work after it’s already been published; if that’s the case for you, you’ll want to consider whether or not a competition offers feedback before you enter. But many writers find the feedback to be helpful, which is an added benefit to consider.
What do you think? Do you have any experience with awards or competitions? What tips would you give writers looking to enter? Let me know in the comments!
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