Entering contests with the potential for gaining awards is a great way for authors to garner feedback. In fact, sometimes the best part of getting an award isn’t the award itself, but the feedback from the judges.
There are many types of awards for authors out there, and depending on your genre, your options are quite numerous. In fact, awards go from the smallest contests all the way up to traditional awards that land on the front cover of books in bookstores.
Knowing what type of writing contest to enter, the rules, how to follow the guidelines best, and what genre your book lands in, are all steps that push you closer to getting that award.
Remember, winning an award is not just a boost for your writing ego. An award shows your writing is credible and that professional judges see it as such. In this article, we discuss varying awards, genres, and what these awards have to do with you, your writing, and your writing goals.
- Fiction Awards
- Fantasy Fiction Awards
- Religion And Spirituality Awards
- Self-Help Awards
- Children’s Books Awards
We’ll start with general fiction, and then divvy awards up according to more niché sub-genres. If you’re not sure what sub-genre you write yet, don’t worry. Pay attention to the list below and look for what point resonates most with what you write.
If you’re still unsure, simply type a few keywords about what you write into a search engine and look at the results. Alright, time to start with fiction awards.
Fiction awards are a great way to set yourself apart from the competition. Because fiction relies on the story rather than leaning most heavily on the author platform like nonfiction does, how others view your storytelling expertise matters greatly.
There are many types of fiction contests you can enter, and your entrance will depend on multiple requirements. When looking for a contest, take into consideration:
- If the contest is global or limited to a specific state, province, or country
- If there is a genre and theme requirement
- Any entrance fees
- Length of entry
If you hit all of these requirements, feel free to enter your writing! TCK Publishing hosted a short story awards contest that covered eleven genres. With this many options to submit to, you're bound to find a good place to enter and have a good chance at winning.
Moving into a main sub-genre of fiction, Pro Writing Aid offers a resource for authors who want to enter fantasy awards contests. Number one on their list is a free contest with cash prizes for previously unpublished authors. Plus, it is professional judges who choose which writer/s will receive an award, not just an average Joe selection committee.
Additionally, there is the Killer Nashville Silver Falchion Award, which started in 2008. To win this award, your work must be seen as extraordinary and your work must be published prior to entering.
This award allows both traditional and indie authors to enter, however, if you do not attend their conference the entrance fee is quite steep. That said, the cash prize is generous so if you win it’s very worth it!
Religion And Spirituality
Publishers Archive lists many contests for religious writers, some of which include:
- Blue Ridge Mountains CWC Directors Choice Awards
- Carol Awards
- Christian Author Awards
- Christy Awards
- CMA Book Awards
- Excellence In Publishing Awards
- Genesis Contest
- Global Ebook Awards
- National Indie Excellence Awards
This list covers a variety of publishing options from traditional, to indie, to Ebook.
If your writing fits one of these formats and falls under the Religion and Spirituality genre, these contests are worth your time. You never know what opportunities you could gain from simply submitting your work to a well-known contest.
Related: Christian Publishers
While writing a self-help book is its own type of reward (after all, writing a book is no small feat), earning an award for doing so means you really stand out from those around you. Self-help books line bookstores shelves and cover a variety of topics:
- Which diet is best for your body type
- Why you should create good habits
- How to gain confidence
- Fitness & exercise tips
The list goes on. Whether you want to be a more charismatic public speaker or keep a tidier house, self-help has you covered.
Winning an award in this genre will help you stand out within your genre and lend credibility to your writing. Book Awards shares an extensive list of Readers’ Favorite, award-winning books. Browse through the list and consider adding some of them to your reading.
Writer's Digest also offers self-published book awards you may be interested in entering if you write Inspirational or Self-Help books. As reputable as they are, earning an award from them would be a great writing resume boost.
Not to be slighted—children’s books! One of the best ways to write an award-winning children’s book is to read award-winning children’s books. Here is a list of 2022 award-winning children’s books you can draw from.
As you look through the different winners, take note where your work-in-progress or previously published book may fall. What did these winners do well? What did you do well that they may have left out?
Remember, reading award-winning titles is done not for the sake of copying other writers, but to draw inspiration from them.
If you are a self-published writer, keep in mind the trend in cover design. Covers are a large contributing factor to whether children will express interest in reading your book or having it read to them.
While it’s the writing that ultimately wins an award, make sure your cover is set up to contribute to your success.
Children’s books are a big market today, so take your time looking through the list, then answer the following questions:
- Where does my writing land in the market?
- What makes my writing unique in the marketplace?
- How is my writing too similar?
You can apply these questions to each of the above genres. Answering them honestly will help heighten your chances of submitting great work and landing an award.
What if I fail?
The more appropriate question to ask is, what does success look like? Entering an award contest is a success in itself. There are many positives to entering, whether you win the final award or not:
- Feedback from judges
- Practice following writing guidelines
- Submitting on a deadline
- Possibly placing second or third
- Reading winning entries as an opportunity for growth
Entering a contest is not just about the potential of winning the award. Placing is a tremendous bonus and can be a great addition to your writing resume—but it does not need to be the end goal.
The more you practice writing for contests, meeting the criteria, hitting deadlines, and receiving feedback, the better you set yourself up for future writing success. If you write in several genres, consider submitting to various contests across your genres.
You may find you write in one genre better than another, and this is a great opportunity to educate yourself on your writing capabilities. Whatever contest you enter, have fun, enjoy the process, and let us know if you win that award!