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Finding Writers’ Contests That Aren’t Ripoffs–Win, Place or Show

Tuesday, April 11, 2017 0:46
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(Before It's News)

Carolyn Howard-Johnson shares writers’ resources on her award-winning blog Sharing with Writers

Lately, I have been looking for contests that offer benefits to entrants even if they don’t win—benefits like critiques or ads or other exposure on a website. That search also includes contests that don’t require that a book be published.
The reason? When a book that hasn’t been published gets a nod from one of these contests, that honor can be used by an author or his or her agent to find a publisher. Or to find an agent. In other words, that win, place, show—or finalist—can lend some credibility to the one book you care about most, yours! Usually the one you are working on right now. Win, place, or show can make your book stand out in a query letter being sent to a publisher or an agent or it can be used as part of a prerelease marketing plan. In other words, it can give your book an edge over the hundreds of thousands other authors trying to get attention for their book.
Many of the contests at run by B. Lynn Goodwin will do just that. My entry for my memoir Here’s How I Don’t Cook just placed finalist in Flash Memoir Contest. I excerpted 750 words from that book to meet the contest requirements and received a great critique to send to my agent, Terrie Wolfe at AKA Literary even before the finalist notification. Now I can add “Finalist” to the book proposal Terrie uses and I am—naturally—hoping for the “Winner” designation to add to that and the battery of critiques that come from the judges of the finalist entries. But if I don’t win, I can use the critiques or take blurbs (excerpts) from one or more of them and use it in all kinds of marketing.
So now you know why I search for added benefits in the contests I enter. I also look at award benefits like subscriptions to the sponsoring journal, the size of the monetary award, and the amount of publicity they give their winners. Some even promise that your book will be recommended to an agent or publisher or that winners will be awarded a guaranteed review in a respected review journal like Midwest Book Review offers the winners of Writers’ Digest’s contests.
You can learn more about Lynn’s contests at or you can reach her at [email protected]. My next novel, This Land Divided, was a winner in that site’s Scintillating Starts Contest last year and my agent is working with it.  Isn’t it nice you could feasibly win that contest or some of her others in 2017—even if your book isn’t finished! And eve if you aren’t a Number One, Top, Greatest Book of All winner!


B4INREMOTE-aHR0cHM6Ly80LmJwLmJsb2dzcG90LmNvbS8tMTJkWWlKaTQ0RG8vV05xc3M5NkQzcEkvQUFBQUFBQUFBNGMvekxNQ2ZZMmdqOWtKVFBRNmp3QUJVZm8wcUs3Z2JZNktnQ0xjQi9zMTYwMC8zREZCUENvdmVyLmdpZg==B4INREMOTE-aHR0cHM6Ly8yLmJwLmJsb2dzcG90LmNvbS8tdlRPQlVyV19BUTgvV05SRXNPYTVtMEkvQUFBQUFBQUFBMzgvOS1jZElJbENMTmtrMlZNeDJMNUlJS2lWbU8tZWw4S1B3Q0xjQi9zMjAwL0JJR2Noai1ib29rcmV2aWV3LWZsYXQucG5nHoward-Johnson is the author of fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry. She is also a marketing consultant, editor, and author of the multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers including the award-winning second editions of The Frugal Book Promoter (where she talks more about choosing and the advantages of winning contests and how to use those honors)  and The Frugal Editor. Her latest is in the series is  How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically. Learn more on her Amazon profile page, Little Last Minute Editing Tips for Writers is one of her booklets–perfect for inexpensive gift giving–and, another booklet, The Great First Impression Book Proposal helps writers who want to be traditionally published. She has three FRUGAL books for retailers including one she encourages authors to read because it will help them convince retailers to host their workshops, presentations, and signings. It is A Retailer’s Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotions: How To Increase Profits and Spit in the Eyes of Economic Downturns with Thrifty Events and Sales Techniques. In addition to this blog, she helps writers extend the exposure of their favorite reviews at She also blogs at all things editing–grammar, formatting and more–at The Frugal, Smart, and Tuned-In Editor ( )


Carolyn Howard-Johnson is the multi award-winning author of the HowToDoItFrugally series of books for authors and retailers. She was named Woman of the Year in Arts and Entertainment by members of the California Legislature and is an instructor of UCLA Extension’s renowned Writers’ Program.


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