Is Entering Your Book in a Literary Competition a Good Idea?

5 Star Cover Billy FRONTFrom time to time my email box fills up with calls for entries for all kinds of book awards, and I’ll admit to having mixed feelings about entering them. So, here is my list of pros and cons regarding book competitions.

First, I’ll start with the pros. I’ve entered competitions in the past and I’ve won awards. And I’m not going to lie. There’s nothing quite like the euphoria you feel when your book has beat out dozens, if not hundreds, of competitors and has either won, or placed, in a competition. It’s also a great marketing tool, as there’s nothing quite like having that award sticker on your book cover. In fact, I’ve included one of mine, so you can see it. Not because I’m bragging, but because there is a downside to just about everything in life, and that includes winning a book award. If you look at the cover closely, you may be able to see what the “con” is.

I won the award in 2007. However, by 2010, it was starting to make my book look dated.

The other potential con is the expense of entering a competition. Back in the mid 2000s, when I entered Billy the Kid in that competition, the entry fees were reasonable. Ahh, those were the days…

Times have indeed changed, and, depending on the competition, even early-bird call to entry fees can be quite steep. Along with the entry fee, you may have to provide printed copies of your book, oftentimes more than one copy, which adds to the cost. For example, I once considered entering one of my Marina Martindale novels in a competition for book cover design. The entry fee was $90, and they wanted four printed copies of my book. By the time I added in the cost of the books, and the postage, it would have come to about $125, just to enter one title, in one category. After thinking over I decided not to enter as I honestly thought the $125 would be better spent on advertising my book.

So, is entering your book in a literary competition a good idea? That’s really up to you to decide. If your budget will allow it then by all means you should consider it. Your book might be a winner, and that award certainly won’t hurt. But if you choose not to enter then don’t worry about it. Experience has taught me that you’ll sell a lot more books by getting good reviews. As a book consumer, I pay a lot more attention to the book reviews than to whatever awards a book may have won.

My thought for the day.