Become a Better Writer

#Winning: Consider Entering Competitions

Writer People Problems

–Sondi Warner, Writer/Blogger for Wrought Iron Reads

Indie authors are rebels, eschewing traditional routes to publishing and brandishing their unorthodox ambitions with pride. Traditionally, one would have to find an agent, shop around a manuscript, sign ambiguous contracts, cross fingers and wait a year or more for a book to reach booksellers.  But indie authors simply write, edit and click “Publish.” Which method is best is subjective. There are, however, advantages to both, and all authors might do well to try blending their approach.

One of the often forgotten methods of gaining a readership is in the Traditional camp and is a great form of marketing your potential. Have you considered entering writing competitions? Similar to regional testing in public schools, competitions allow writers to compare their talent with that of their peers and see where they stand. Also, writers should never neglect their resume by focusing solely on self-published content.

Credibility is garnered by having a robust portfolio, including having stories published in circulars and magazines, as well as attaching some awards to your career history.winner-1013979_640

Rosabeth Moss Kanter, who did a Harvard Business Review paper on “Ten Reasons Winners Keep Winning, Aside from Skill,” says: “[W]inning brings advantages that make it easier to keep winning.” There’s nothing like being able to stamp the seal of “Award-Winning Author” to a book, but the advantage is further reaching than that.

Let’s take a look at how indie authors in particular can benefit from entering competitions instead of always playing lone wolf.

cheer-308040_640Winning. As Kanter puts it, “Clearly everyone feels good about winning, while emotions sag at failure. Emotions affect performance. Positive moods produce physical energy and the resilience to persist after setbacks.” Not everyone who enters a competition will win. That’s the rule of the game. However, everyone who enters a competition can use the emotional response—positive or negative—to fuel their ambition to succeed. Winning confers a much-needed ego boost in the dog-eat-dog world of indie publishing, and any advantage is a good one. So, writers should be entering competitions if for no other reason than that there is the chance you might win.


Exposure. Most writing competitions charge a reading fee that can range anywhere from $10-40 or more. Why is that? Because often the judges are big name editors and/or authors, and your material will go directly into that person’s hands. How’s that for exposure. Furthermore, whether you win first place or not, many stories entered in competitions do go on to be published, thereby building your readership. Becky Tuch discusses the long arm of exposure in this wonderful examination of the pros and cons of entering writing competitions, here.

money-rain-1013688_640Cash Rewards. It should be noted that everyone likes a nice pay-out. Writing competitions are an easy way to get paid. In terms of marketing, winning a writing competition is the gift that keeps on giving. You will take your cash reward, add your “Award-Winning Author” seal to your next book, and reap the benefits of that exposure to get more book sales. For this reason, paying a minimal reading fee is worth the investment.

The Take-Away. If you have the capital to invest in writing competitions, there are benefits to doing so. In the end, indie authors should recognize their work speaks for itself, and the best form of marketing is having really great writing that gets people talking about it. Entering writing competitions is one route worth considering as you examine ways to get your material to your readership.

Tell us your experiences with competitions in the comment section below.


While writing competitions might not interest you, Flavorwire is to the rescue with The 25 Best Websites for Literature Lovers. Check them out! ❤


Are you on top of the most important awards for writers? Check out this list from Writer’s Relief of the 7 Important Awards for Writing. The Write List has also compiled this (more recent) handy list of 27 Free Writing Contests: Legitimate Competitions with Cash Prizes. 🙂

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