Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Write On Four Corners Author Discusses Contests

CONTESTS: Awards Set Your Book Apart But Ya Gotta Enter Contests to Get Them

By Carolyn Howard-Johnson

Excerpted from The Frugal Book Promoter (www.budurl.com/FrugalBkPromo)

I pity the poor reader these days. Reviews can’t be relied on for unbiased opinions, so a reader may have trouble telling which book is most likely to set her heart a’ beating. As she shops, she often turns to the blurbs or endorsements on the back of the book. She may read a few of the first pages. But a book that has won a contest for book awards from organizations like Jeff Keene’s USA Book News award (usabooknews.com) or the New Millennium award (indiebookawards.com.com) or, yes, from universities like Columbia’s Pulitzer, will probably clinch a sale faster than many others.

Let’s take that one step farther. Authors who have won literary contests (contests run by journals, publishers and the like for poetry, short stories, novellas, novels and other literary entities) also gets bragging rights that might get inserted into their media kits, query letters, and Web sites. That makes it easier to sell a promotion idea (or a next book!) than someone who is new to writing. Gatekeepers—anyone from acquisition editors to feature editors at newspapers—can be influenced by a contest. Make that a contest win, place, or show. It may be what’s needed to set you apart from the many authors clamoring for attention. In fact on a slow news day, just about any award looks like a nugget of gold to a busy editor.

So why are authors so ready to hate contests? Fear of rejection is an easy answer. An article in the revered Poetry & Writers’ magazine mentions that writers often consider contests rigged and resent the fees (usually from free to $25 for literary contests and from free to $125. for book awards.). The magazine article pointed out that publishers and organizations become dependent on the fees they charge for contests and note that rarely does an unknown author win. I’m not sure the last part isn’t sour grapes; the point of many contests is to find delicious new voices that will keep the not-so-voracious appetite of publishers for new material well fed. If it is the truth, perhaps we should do something to hone our own skills to approximate those of more established authors.

Hint: There are other benefits to contests. Some offer critiques of entries—a value that cannot be overestimated in terms of learning more about the contest-winning process and one’s craft. Some publishers sponsor contests to attract submissions of great new manuscripts.

Regardless of the category (and there are some that don’t seem to fit neatly into either category), a contest win is a contest win is a contest win in terms of marketing.

Some contests only accept nominations from publishers. You may need to prod your publisher a bit if you know of a contest for which you think your book would be suitable.

For guidelines for using contests to gain exposure and expand your credentials, a checklist for what to do to market your book once you’ve won a contest, and a plan of attack for authors who want to win contests, go to www.howtodoitfrugally.com/contests.htm.
Carolyn Howard-Johnson promotes her multi award-winning poetry and fiction using contests of all kinds. She also sponsors contests as a way to market her writing career including a cover contest for a chapbook of poetry celebrating women she wrote with Magdalena Ball. Learn more about her methods in any one of her HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers: www.howtodoitfrugally.com. The series has won several awards and the marketing plan for her Frugal Editor (www.budurl.com/TheFrugalEditor) won the New Millennium Award for Marketing.

Carolyn Howard-JohnsonAward-winning coauthor of theCelebration Series of Chapbooks with Magdalena BallCelebrate Father's Day! Send a copy of ImagininConnie Gotsch www.conniegotsch.com Host Write On Four Corners KSJE FM, Farmington NM www.ksje.com Author two award winning youth novels ‘Belle’s Star,’ and ‘Belle’s trial,’ based on the life of a real dog and written from her point of view. Available from Artemesia Press at http://www.apbooks.net and amazon.com, and Anazon,com Belle’s Star was a New Mexico BookAward in 2009 and 2010; First Place for Juvenile Fiction New Mezxico Press Women and National Federation of Press Women Communication Contests 2010’ Silver Mom’s Choice Award 2010.
Belle’s Trial’ won First Place for Juivenile Fiction in the 2011 New Mexico Press Press Women’s Commuication Contest, and a Silver Mom’s Choice Award for 2011. The book received an Eric Hoffer Award nomination for 2011.g the Futurewww.budurl.com.imagining
Website: www.howtodoitfrugally.comE-mail: HoJoNews@aol.com

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