This is contest season for those whose books came out in 2015. Books, entry forms, and money (to support all manner of contests prizes) are sent in during the bleak months of December through February when I’m usually in a sort of winter funk. Should I enter this one or that one? What if I don’t final? Do book awards help sell books? What’s the point?
In the early years of writing, my competitive nature compelled me to enter and compare myself (and my books) with others out there. Once I remember feeling sad that my book didn’t make the list of finalists. Only later did I realize it was a contest I hadn’t even entered! So rule number one: You can’t win if you don’t enter.
Rule number two: Contests are subjective. What piques ones judges fancy may be a resounding bleh! with another. I’m learning to roll with that and avoid comparing my books with those of others.
Rule number three: Be grateful. I can’t imagine anything I’d rather do than write books, so I’m thankful every time I have one to enter in a contest. Long hours of toil and trouble have gone into making my words come together in a finished book so entering a contest is a nod to those who’ve been part of that process: my agent, editors, cover artists, readers (LOVE my readers!), and family and friends who’ve come alongside.
Winning or even being a finalist in a contest is a rare privilege – one that I’ve come to appreciate more with each book. In a perfect world being an award-winning author would lead to being a best-selling author. It doesn’t always work that way, but it’s a warm feeling to know that my book was chosen from dozens or hundreds in its category. I’ve won some and lost more. That gives credence to the fact that I AM A WRITER.
Like Mittie in A FLYING AFFAIR, competition sharpens one’s skill, but it is the gift of camaraderie and working toward a common goal that is the real prize. Connecting with other writers, promoting one another, and cheering for the finalists who did make the cut ensure that great books are worth celebrating.
Today I’m celebrating A FLYING AFFAIR and being a finalist in two noteworthy contests. Last month, I attended the Oklahoma Book Awards sponsored by the Oklahoma Center for the Book as a finalist in fiction. I didn’t win, but as a group, the finalists will come together for a book signing in June (details in side bar). I can’t wait to meet new friends and readers!
A FLYING AFFAIR is also a finalist for the Selah Award sponsored by the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference. In a couple of weeks I’ll be headed to North Carolina to attend the conference and award ceremony. It’s a conference I’ve always dreamed of going to, so I’m thankful and grateful for the opportunity.
Rule number five: Entering contests can bring new vistas and opportunities and stir the creative waters of this writer’s heart.