Winning competitions can be a great way to raise your profile as an author. The actual prize is not as important as the licence to ever after describe yourself as an award-winning or shortlisted author.
But – and there is a very big but – it depends on whether the competition is a reputable one, or one of the many money-making scams that sadly proliferates in the world of self-publishing.
That is why I’m very pleased to be able to share with you today news of a very reputable and worthwhile competition, sponsored by three ethical and respected organisations: Kobo, SilverWood Books and Berforts Information Press.
The new Open Day competition calls for just the synopsis and first chapter of your book, and the deadline is 31st December. Perfect timing for anyone who has taken part in the annual NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) programme, and is keen to advance their novel to the next stage.
The First Prize will be a SilverWood-produced ebook published with Kobo Writing Life and a paperback edition sponsored by Berforts Information Press, published and distributed by SilverWood Books. The Runner Up will receive the new Kobo Aura H2O.
I am delighted to welcome Helen Hart, publishing director at SilverWood Books, to answer my questions about this exciting new competition.
Debbie Young: Hello, Helen, and welcome to Off The Shelf. I was really pleased to learn at the Open Day this autumn that you were launching this competition. It would be helpful if you could kick off here by explaining why you think indie authors should enter competitions. What can they expect to gain from it, not only in terms of the prizes they might win, but also from the process. For example, will it help make them better at self-editing and more conscious of the market? Will it make them more confident? And will it actually help them sell more books?
Helen Hart: Competitions are great for any authors, because they help raise profile (both of author and book) and can feed in to the promotion of other books – either backlist or forthcoming. The publishing landscape is so crowded these days, that all writers (whether indie, self- or trade-published) need to find as many ways as possible to differentiate themselves from others. A competition win can be a good way to do that, and for many writers that increased exposure is a very worthwhile investment of time.
Debbie Young: There are a lot of competitions out there, some open to self-publishing authors, others very much closed to them. I’ve seen competitions that potentially exploit naive authors, demanding huge entry fees and offering prizes worth less than the entry fee, so presumably making a tidy profit for the organiser, or offering so many prizes in so many categories that all you have to do to win a prize – and therefore be able to call yourself for ever more a prizewinning author – is to pay the entry fee.
Given that the fees are sometimes hundreds of dollars/pounds/Euros, it’s analogous to buying yourself a title – a Lordship, or whatever – and to those in the know, flagging yourself up as the winner of such prizes actually does your reputation more harm than good.
What advice would you give to the new author who is seeking to raise his profile by entering and hopefully winning competitions? How do you sort the worthwhile competitions from the scams?
Helen Hart: This is where organisations such as ALLi, and other reputable forums for writers, are so valuable. There’s a sharing of information and generous advice which means that writers can explore their options and canvas opinions from their peers before making any commitment. My advice would be to examine the companies running the competition, find out as much as possible about them and their reputation, and weigh up the pros and cons of entering for you as an individual writer.
Debbie Young: It’s very exciting that in collaboration with the highly respected Kobo you have devised a new competition expressly for indie authors and offering an extremely valuable and useful prize. Can you please describe it briefly.
Helen Hart: SilverWood Books is working with Kobo Writing Life and Berforts Information Press to offer a free writing competition, which we announced at our recent Writing & Self-Publishing Open Day (hence the name — The Open Day Competition). The winner of this year’s Open Day Competition receives a detailed copy-edit, professional cover design by our cover design team, and publication as an ebook and short-run paperback. The runner up prize receives a Kobo Aura H2O. The judging panel includes television presenter and author Dr Sanjida O’Connell and Kobo Young Adult fiction bestseller Shayna Krishnasamy. I’m the third panellist, and we’re all looking forward to reading the shortlist.
Debbie Young: Why did you choose Kobo, or why did Kobo choose SilverWood, to collaborate on this high-profile competition, which I see is well publicised on the Kobo website as well as your own?
Debbie Young: What’s the deadline for entry for your competition? Please remind us where authors can find the rules and enter the competition.
Helen Hart: The closing date is 31 December, and authors can find out more here: http://kobowritinglife.com/2014/09/20/open-day-writing-competition/ and the online entry form is here: https://vrcoordinator.wufoo.com/forms/the-open-day-writing-competition/.
Debbie Young: Helen, thank you so much for taking the time to answer these questions. I’m sure you’re looking forward to seeing the submissions. I encourage anyone who is planning to self-publish a book in 2015 to enter this enticing and free-to-enter competition. From the entrant’s point of view, there seems to be nothing to lose and plenty to gain! Good luck, folks!