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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.