With the advent of digital technologies like the Kindle and the Nook, which have fueled an exponential growth in electronic publishing, there has also been a mushrooming in organizations handing out literary awards. We all know the impact a major award like the Nobel Prize, the National Book Award, or the Pulitzer Prize can have on an author’s career — or, on a more specialized basis, the Edgar, Shamus or Anthony awards.
But what about all the other awards littering the landscape. Are these minor literary awards worth it?
The answer is a resounding yes, and the reasons are plentiful. Here are five of them:
1- They give beginning writers confidence
2- They provide established writers with a yardstick to be measured against
3- They outline a step-by-step learning process — first compete in the easier ones and then move on to the harder ones
4- They allow winners to add these wonderful words to their bios: “award-winning writer”
5- They provide winners with gold stickers to attach to their books, thereby making them more attractive to potential buyers
Now, mind you, don’t think for a moment that it’s easy to win any of these minor literary awards. It isn’t. There are many good writers entering those competitions, and they are trying to win too.
Consider the awards I have won — the Royal Palm Award, the Lighthouse Book Award (twice with different books), the Indie Book Award, and the Readers Favorite Book Award (twice with different books). I won’t mention here all the other awards I entered but didn’t win. Hey, you know how it is — you win a few and you lose a few.
The Royal Palm Award is handed out once a year by the Florida Writers Association and it is a prestigious award, available to all writers throughout the United States and internationally. FWA is the largest writers’ organization in Florida, consisting of more than one thousand members; it has chapters all over the state of Florida and other states, including North Carolina. Awards in different categories are handed out at the Florida Writers Association Annual Conference, usually held at Disney World every year, and attended by thousands.
The Lighthouse Book Award is handed out annually at Ponte Vedra, Florida, and it’s available to writers from all over the United States.
The Indie Book Awards are held annually and many authors and small publishers compete.
The Readers Favorite Award is held annually, too, and many small and large publishers compete, as well as writers from all over the world. The award ceremony usually takes place during the respected Miami Book Fair held in Miami in the month of November every year.
There are dozens, if not hundreds, of other minor literary awards – ranging from those handed out by tiny writers’ groups to those promoted by large organizations charging hefty fees. I encourage you to get on the Internet and check them out. All you need to do is Google “literary awards” and they’ll come charging at you like a herd of spooked wildebeests. Unless you are an experienced writer, I suggest you bypass the contests with the hefty fees and concentrate on the smaller ones for now, which are often free — or charge a nominal fee to enter. Later, when you have gained more experience, you can try the larger awards with the hefty fees.
What’s my next step regarding awards?
I’m making a selection of places to submit my new thriller, Twin Powers, recently published by Second Wind Publishing and now available on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Twin-Powers-David-Pereda/dp/1630661112/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1425253277&sr=1-2&keywords=twin+powers.
If Twin Powers does well, which I expect it will because I know it’s a good book and the reviews so far have been outstanding, I’m considering moving up in competition to challenge the “bigs.” What do I have to lose, really?
As Theodore Roosevelt said, “The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena;
who strives valiantly
who errs and comes short again and again;
who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement;
and who at the worst, if he fails,
at least fails while daring greatly;
so that his place shall never be
with those cold and timid souls
who know neither victory nor defeat.”
So, to summarize: Are minor literary awards worth it? Yes, yes, and yes!
If you happen to be an aspiring writer wishing to make a name for yourself, I have three words of advice for you: Go for it! Find a suitable literary award competition for your level of writing, polish up that short story or novel in your drawer you think so highly of but are afraid to show anybody, and get out of your cave and go find the cheese.
What do you have to lose?
David Pereda is the award-winning author of seven novels, dozens of articles and a handful of poems. His latest thriller, Twin Powers, published by Second Wind Publishing in February 2015, has received rave reviews. Visit www.davidpereda.com