It hadn’t occurred to me before to enter one of my novels in a contest. Though I’d been collecting the names of magazines, journals, and mid-level publishing houses that advertised contests, I hadn’t submitted anything. In April of 2014, after numerous emails about the Global Ebook Awards, hosted by Dan Poynter, I uploaded Book One of the Tanner Trilogy, Of Art and Air. In August, I received an email that my novel had won a Bronze, third place! I was so excited! Who wouldn’t be? With microscopic sales numbers, I felt I’d gotten a bit of validation.
I finished, edited, and published Book Two of the Tanner Trilogy, Of Hoof Prints and Heartbeats, and submitted it, and Of Art and Air, to the International Book Awards in March of 2015. In May, I received an email stating that Of Art and Air was a finalist in the Fiction: Romance category, and Of Hoof Prints and Heartbeats was the winner! After several minutes of disbelief and rereading the email, there was cause for celebration!
One benefit of winning the Fiction:Romance, and having another novel be a finalist in the same category, is that someone else, besides me and the handful of readers that rave about my stories, likes my writing enough to gift me with an award. As part of the “award”, the list of winners and finalists (80 categories, over 1200 entries, and about 300 awards received) were sent to over 200,000 media outlets, libraries, and bookstores. Talk about exposure!
I can now state that I am an award-winning author. Winning should come with certain perks. A pat on the back, which was given by a few friends when they bought me flowers and a nice card. Kudos from readers, which were given in person and via social media. A spike in website activity, verified by Google Analytics. An increase in book sales…still waiting for that one. And a bit of outside validation which bolsters flagging inside validation…done.
The first advice a traditionally published author will offer a budding writer is to write a good book. All the parts that make up the story-character, plot, setting, conflict-must be in place. The pieces must be intriguing, captivating, make sense, be well-edited, and give the reader the right amount of description, page-turning action, backstory, dialogue, and insight into the characters. Then, once the story is polished to high shine, it must be released into the world. (I’ve written many blog posts on the courageous turning loose of art, and the battle creatives fight to do so.)
Since last month, I’ve entered both novels into the USA Book Awards. I also enrolled Of Hoof Prints and Heartbeats, and the cover, in the Global Ebook Awards. I’ll find out in August and September if my winning record will continue. If the cover receives an award, it’ll be a feather in the hat of the graphic designer that does my covers and works on my website. There are other contests for short stories and poems and creative nonfiction. I’ve entered two, one poem and one short story, but haven’t won the prize money.
I’ll continue to put my work out there. Whether I win or not, I know I’ve battled back my inner critic that tells me my writing is no good and not worth sharing. Maybe, eventually, enough awards will translate into enough people reading my stuff to pass the word along, and I’ll end up on the big list of “Best-Seller” in the sky.
You can take a look at some short stories, poems, and the beginnings of my novels on my website: www.myjoyenterprises.com
Have you entered a contest? What was the outcome?