Indie Authors, Contests & Consternations: Win or Lose – You Can’t Do Either Without Entering

Winning a writing contest, no matter how small, seems to be a necessity for the modern author. Even if you aren’t qualified for the Pulitzer, there are more and more contests for indie authors. I’ve never won a contest, whether as an author or as a songwriter. It pains me – not that I’ve entered many.

My book was a BookWorks Book of the Week selection

Medallion from Bookworks Book of the Week Prize for Donna’s high school adventure/mystery with excursions into fantasy The Heart of Applebutter Hill.

In July, however, my first and only novel, The Heart of Applebutter Hill, was named the Bookworks novel of the week. I think that put a bug in my shorts. Then, I received a mailing that Patty Fletcher of Tell-it-to-the-World Marketing sent out to her author clients. It mentioned the North Street Prize for indie authors, sponsored by Writer’s Market. It cost $75. Yikes, but I was off and running. Two things stopped me.

First, I went to the site and discovered what looked like a deal-breaker. It appeared that all authors of genre fiction, including young adult novels, had to enter the same category. That seemed ridiculous and a tad mean. There was a Children’s Literature category, but my novel isn’t for children. I must be missing something, right? So, I wrote to them. While waiting for their response, I enlisted Google’s help to find other indie author contests.

“It’s  nice to snuggle up with a good book,” says Goofus, a strawberry blonde tabby, getting cozy with The Heart of Applebutter Hill by his Mom, Donna W. Hill. Cover shows cave scene with a hand holding the blue Heartstone of Arden-Goth: photo by Rich Hill.

Goofus, Hills’ kitty, snuggles up with The Heart of Applebutter Hill:photo by Rich Hill.

That’s when the second thing happened. I found the Booklife Prize, sponsored by Publishers Weekly. It was more expensive ($90-something), but … “All entrants receive a Critic’s Report, which includes a score as well as a brief written critical assessment of their novel by a Publishers Weekly reviewer.” In other words, they offered a written critique of every submission that authors could use to promote their work.

Hmm, if contests are important, reviews are even more so. I couldn’t justify the expense of entering both contests. Then, the answer came in from the North Street people. I was right; I should enter my young adult novel in the genre fiction category. Ugh!

Well, the North Street prize’s July 31st deadline was fast approaching, and their answer paralyzed me. The Booklife Prize deadline was the end of August and I decided to take a deep breath, work on the Haven project (the anthology from Plaisted Publishing in New Zealand to help victims of the Christchurch mosque terrorist attacks) and the “Sizzling Summer Super Release Book Launch Party!” (the Facebook event that Patty had set up for us). I could think about contests afterwards.

Mo, a male yellow Lab guide dog, in the grass with a copy of The Heart of Applebutter Hill by his Mom, Donna W. Hill. Cover shows cave scene - stalactites reflected in an underground lake, with a hand holding the blue, Heartstone of Arden-Goth: photo by Rich Hill.

“They don’t really expect me to read this, do they?” says Donna’s guide dog Mo: photo by Rich Hill.

Eventually, I went to the Booklife entry form. Lo and behold, they had a category for middle school and young adult fiction. That meant only one winner for what I would consider two categories – still better than the North Street contest with all genre fiction whether for general, middle school or young audiences lumped into one category. I still can’t believe that. I have the email, if anyone wants to see it.

So, on to the Booklife prize. Just one teensy little issue – the blurb mentions the Middle School/Young Adult category, but the form didn’t. I looked around and around, assuming I was missing something, because I’m always missing something, right? But, no, my happy little category simply wasn’t there. OK, where’s the Contact page? I found it and set about to ask my question.

When Booklife wrote back, they had fixed the problem with the form, and – hang on to your socks – they gave me a promo code that saved me $20 on my submission for pointing it out to them. Now, I could enter the contest in good conscience. Even if I don’t win (which is statistically likely), I had done a service to the authorly world by pointing out the missing category and earned myself a discount.

Author Donna W. Hill takes time to play with her yellow Lab guide dog, Mo, and his red Jolly Ball: photo by Rich Hill.

Donna playing with her guide dog, Mo and his Jolly Ball: photo by Rich Hill.

My financial prudence as well as my social responsibility sides having thus been appeased, I entered. Now, I wait. One way or another, in eight weeks, I’ll have that review in hand. We’ll see if I have the nerve to use it. Meanwhile, my Booklife profile enabled me to create a project which allowed me to apply for a Publishers’ Weekly book review.

About Donna W. Hill

Donna W. Hill is a writer, speaker, animal lover and avid knitter from Pennsylvania's Endless Mountains. Her first novel, The Heart of Applebutter Hill, is an adventure-mystery with excursions into fantasy for general audiences. Professionals in the fields of education and the arts have endorsed it as a diversity, inclusion and anti-bullying resource for junior high through college. A songwriter with three albums, Hill provided educational and motivational programs in the Greater Philadelphia area for fifteen years before moving to the mountains. Her essay, "Satori Green" appears in Richard Singer's Now, Embracing the Present Moment (2010, O-Books), and her cancer-survivor story is in Dawn Colclasure’s On the Wings of Pink Angels (2012). From 2009 through 2013, Hill was an online journalist for numerous publications, covering topics ranging from nature, health care and accessibility to music, knitting and chocolate. She is an experienced talk show guest and guest blogger and presents workshops about writing and her novel for school, university, community and business groups. The Heart of Applebutter Hill is available in print and e-versions at Amazon, B&N, Apple, Sony, Smashwords, Create Space and other outlets. It is also available through Bookshare for readers with print disabilities.
This entry was posted in adventure-mystery, authors, Book Reviews, fantasy, Indie Authors, marketing, novel, Self-Publishing, The Heart of Applebutter Hill, Uncategorized, Wrighting, Writing Contests, young adult and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Indie Authors, Contests & Consternations: Win or Lose – You Can’t Do Either Without Entering

  1. Good for you! We never know unless we try. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I wish you good luck and as you say, you can’t really lose. This was a useful article to catch for me this week – I’m pondering as I write this whether to enter various comps, telling myself I don’t really care whether I win, telling myself £6 here plus £15 there plus $60 somewhere else is an investment…Let us know what happens!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Patty says:

    Reblogged this on Campbells World and commented:
    Hi everyone, and welcome back to WordPress Wednesday.
    Though this dratted reblog feature won’t let me edit the title this post is for sure part of our WordPress wednesday column.
    Furthermore, it’s part of the Tips From Tell-It-To-The-World Marketing because Doonna has written a fabulous article on what persistance and hard work can do.
    She shows us that with determination we can get where we want to be and learn what we need to know if only we will try.
    FAB job girl, and to MO Campbell says don’t bother worrying about reading, if you wait long enough your humans are sure to read something to you whether you want them to or not.
    Yawl click on over now and read Donna’s wonderful post.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Patty, thanks, not only for the re-blog but for your encouraging comments. Sometimes I think that it’s easier to reach out in new directions when I am a little removed from my deepest fears and desires. It becomes a bit of a game. I wonder what would happen if I tried this or that? There’s something of a win there, even without a prize. I really enjoyed the process. I think this post was worth the money I spent on the contest. Not that I’m interested in spending that much on a regular basis, but this time it’s already been worth the money.

      Tell Campbell that Mo has heard his Daddy read things from the paper to his Mom that make her laugh. It’s pretty boring, according to him, not anything near as exciting as when they play with him or give him something to eat. Hugs 🙂


  4. dgkaye says:

    Good for you Donna! We never know if we don’t submit! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

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