It seems this time of year many RWA chapters offer published authors the opportunity to enter their releases from the previous year into contest. And mind you, these contests aren’t cheap. At $25 to $30 for each book entered, the bottom line can balloon really fast. How do I know? Weeeellll … I’ll admit it … I’m a contest whore. I can’t stop myself!

winner isSo, I fill out the entry form, package up my book and plunk down that check in hopes of scoring well enough to final. Oooookkkaaayyy … I’m competitive enough to want to win. I said it. I WANNA WIN! But this isn’t new. Not only am I a type-A personality, I’m hoping a final in one of these contest might add some credibility to my self-published books.

Before I was published I entered my first manuscript in all kinds of contests. The bummer was the same entry would score a 97 and a 56. Bleh. But after I got over the disappointment of not finalling (in one contest I had the second lowest score), I took time and read the awesome comments of the judges. And you know? They were extremely helpful. In their very polite way they explained that I sooooo wasn’t ready to publish, but if I worked on my craft and more specifically, these couple of things then chances are, I’d make a go of it.

And they were right.

Now, I’m published. The contests are very different. There are no comments on the writing, (since the book is already printed) but there are score sheets that you can look at. And you know, sometimes that still helps. If I find out a character isn’t sympathetic or the motivation for my villain isn’t clear, that kind of information is invaluable.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’ll say it again. My purpose for entering these contests is to win. Not come in second … win. It’s who I am. But it’s no different than hoping my book gets a 5-star, “recommended read” review. I am thrilled for weeks and tell anyone who will listen. Writing is a business for me. I want people to like my books and in turn buy the next one. If a reviewer is willing to say my book was a great read, here’s hoping others will see that and follow suit. I’m pretty sure contests don’t help with sales, but it sure feels good.

I know there’s lots of talk about contests. I’m wondering how you feel about it either as an author entering or as a reader. If a book says “WINNER OF XYZ CONTEST” does that affect your buying habits?

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