Why Enter a Novel Contest?You've probably seen promotions for novel contests or heard about them from your friends. Once you've got your novel written and out there, is it worth it to enter contests? What is the gain?
The short answer is that ANY way you can distinguish yourself from being better than the other billions of books that are out there flooding the market can only help you. Readers have pages and pages of choices to dig through. If your book stands out because it's certified to be of good quality, that could make them stop to learn more.
The celebration of earning that award can also be a great opportunity to throw a virtual party, get the news shared around the world, talk to local newspapers, and much more. It can be the "entry ticket" to a wealth of promotion.
For example, in 2013 I submitted my murder mystery, Aspen Allegations, to the IPPY awards. This is a world-wide award which is given in specific categories. So you could win best romance, or best thriller, or so on. In my case, I submitted Aspen Allegations for best regional ebook east of the Mississippi. I felt its strength was in the way it described the beauty of rural Massachusetts. I won the gold award!
When I won, I went in to New York City for the award ceremony and met many fascinating, talented authors. These people were very good at what they did and provided wonderful advice and support. So the networking was one aspect of what I "won". When I got back home with my award, I promptly sent photos of me and the award out to all the local papers. I was interviewed. The publicity then got me more sales.
My book permanently has that shiny gold seal - and the promotional text - which boost it wherever it goes. Every person looking at the cover sees it won a gold award. That might be that extra little push they needed to give it a try. They know it's not full of typos or grammatical errors. It's a sign that it's a higher quality level than many self-published works.
Some awards charge reading fees. Really, this makes a lot of sense. Those award groups are dedicating months of their lives to reading through all of these entries. They can't give away all that time. Few of us are independently wealthy to live off our trust funds! So they put in the time and effort to be diligent in their search for a winner. You benefit for the rest of your life from the earning of that prize, if you win.
So, to summarize, I highly recommend entering contests that match your book's genre. Sure, do your research. Make sure they are actually CHOOSING a winner and not just taking your money. Also, make sure that it's not a gold-medal-for-everyone contest. You need to make sure that readers who look into the contest feel you are promoting something honorable, rather than a scam. With those two caveats, winning that gold medal can do great things for your book's sales and for your reputation as an author.
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