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Thursday, October 10, 2013

Addicted To Writing Contests - a Guest Post by Pippa Jay

My name is Pippa Jay and I'm addicted to writing contests. Yep. Addicted is the word. I've actually always been a non-competitive person. No, really! I sucked at sports and competitions at school, and forget popularity contests. Prrfftt. I'd never entered a writing contest in my life. After all, if I couldn't find a publisher who wanted me, how the heck was I going to win a contest?! At least, that's what the 'I suck' fairy told me. >.<

Also, how do you go about finding legitimate contests anyway? I didn't have a clue. The bewildering world of publishing already had my head in a spin, and I'd had help and advice along the way as it was. But once I had my first contract under my belt for my debut novel, a friend pointed me toward the Readers Favorite Contest Award. It wasn't cheap, but it was legitimate and there were some nice promotional bonuses for the winners. It's open to most genres, formats and lengths - manuscripts, published and unpublished books, ebooks, audio books, comic books, poetry books and short stories in 100 genres. No publication date requirement and no word count restriction, with English language entries accepted worldwide. And what could you win? Well, each of the one hundred categories offers four award levels, plus a finalist level. You get a certificate, medal, digital award seals and a roll of shiny award stickers to add to your print books. You're invited to an awards ceremony with media coverage, get your book displayed at the largest book fair in the States, a review, and widespread promotion of your book via press and social media. You can check out the details on their website here. I figured it was worth a shot as it had been recommended to me by someone I trusted. My debut novel Keir got a five star review in the first round, although it only finished as a finalist overall. I had my first shiny!

After that, I went hunting for more contests to enter. It's an area where you have to be cautious. I've always gone on personal recommendations from fellow authors, or stuck to contests run by the various chapters of the RWA (Romance Writers of America). Entering costs money, and I won't say it's a must-do for authors - you certainly shouldn't feel that your work is any the less worthy for a lack of shiny stickers or a certificate. But I have to say it's been a good confidence boost for me, and I'm sure it doesn't hurt on the promotional and marketing side either. So here's a few guidelines for how to enter contests, and at the end I've include two lists of places to find contests, plus a list of my own personal recommendations.

Guidelines -

1. Always check out the people running the contest to make sure it isn't a scam. Where possible, go for contests recommended to you by people you know and/or trust, and that they've done themselves, or that perhaps you've seen favourite or fellow authors taking part in. Ask around.

2. Check that your publisher allows you to enter contests, and what kind. You may need to ask permission! It may even state in your contract that you're not permitted to enter contests.

3. Read the entry requirements CAREFULLY! Most will simply delete your entry if you don't follow their guidelines to the letter, and won't refund your entry fee into the bargain. As an author (whether aspiring or published), you should be used to following guidelines by agents and publishers, and a contest entry should not be treated any less respectfully. Check they accept your genre, whether you must be published, unpublished or uncontracted, whether there are word count restrictions and/or fixed categories. Check what format they require, and remember to enter early if you have to send off print copies of your work. Yes, even for unpublished stuff - some will ask for hard copy even for those. One thing to watch for is copyright dates - often there will be a date restrictions, so make sure yours is within the limit.

4. Make sure you receive a receipt for your payment and acknowledgement that your entry has been received. If not, follow it up. I had one site that required you to register to enter, but then wouldn't let me log back in to check so I had to chase up with emails to be sure they'd received my entry!

5. Keep your eyes open, perhaps even set up Google alerts. Not all contests will notify finalists and/or winners. Set your calendar to remind you of when various contest rounds end, although there may not always be a firm date published (for example the EPIC currently says finalists will be notified in early October) and sometimes deadlines for entry and results are extended without warning or notification.

6. Don't be downhearted if you don't win. The judges will be a subjective as your readers and as publishers and agents. People like different things, and not winning does not mean your book is bad!

Lists of suggested contests -

Book Awards for Self-Published Authors (this is also contests open to small press and/or traditionally published authors too, but the focus is primarily on self-published) - 

RWA Chapter Events and Contests (this is obviously for romance subgenres, but is open to published/unpublished and/or self published authors) -

My personal experience and recommendations -

The Heart of Denver RWA Aspen Gold contest (they also have the Molly for unpublished authors)
The GCC Silken Sands Self-Published Star Award - romance, short stories and novellas that are self-published.
The Rebecca - Land of Enchantment Romance Authors (LERA) - for unpublished works
EPIC eBooks Awards - open to all digitally published works
Readers Favorite Book Reviews and Award Contest - open to all
The Kindle Book Review's Best Indie Book Awards

Good luck!


A stay-at-home mum of three who spent twelve years working as an Analytical Chemist in a Metals and Minerals laboratory, Pippa Jay bases her stories on a lifetime addiction to science-fiction books and films. Somewhere along the line a touch of romance crept into her work and refused to leave. In between torturing her plethora of characters, she spends the odd free moments trying to learn guitar, indulging in freestyle street dance and drinking high-caffeine coffee. Although happily settled in historical Colchester in the UK with her husband of 20 years, she continues to roam the rest of the Universe in her head.

Pippa Jay is a dedicated member of the SFR Brigade, a community of science fiction romance authors and publishing professionals committed to writing and promoting the very best in the genre. Her works have won her the SFR Galaxy Award and RomCom Award, and made her a Readers Favorite finalist, Aspen Gold finalist, GCC Silken Sands Star Award finalist, and a Kindle Book Review Best Indie Book Awards semi-finalist.

Website - http://www.pippajay.co.uk
Blogs - http://www.pippajay.blogspot.co.uk
Twitter - https://twitter.com/pippajaygreen
Goodreads - http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5054558.Pippa_Jay
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Pippa-Jay-Adventures-in-Scifi/114058821953752
Google+ - https://plus.google.com/u/0/101080630877126516448/posts
SFR Brigade - http://www.sfrcontests.blogspot.co.uk/