Turn over a rock or open a Writer's Market and find writing contests. All over the Internet the word travels at the rate of speeding electrons about the latest and greatest writing contest. Plunk down the money, write a story, and grasp fame and fortune -- and publication.
Why not enter a contest, throw a story into the ring, and take a chance on what you know you do better than anyone else -- write? It is that easy -- and it is that hard. Is it worth it?
I remember the first contest I entered in a writer's newsletter I subscribed to. Short story, any genre, and, while sitting in the bathroom, I came up with what I felt was the perfect story. I dashed to the computer and wrote it down, checked it twice, and sent it off speeding along the electron highway to its final destination. I went back to work and back to writing and completely forgot that I had entered. I didn't haunt the email box hitting the button and hoping the news was good. I simply forgot about it. I was after all writing my first novel, a romance because the odds were better of getting a romance published, and there was more money to be had. Mostly, I just wanted to be published, to know that I had made it.
As I got to the middle of the novel, an email arrived. I had won the contest with a first person vampire story that was like no vampire story out there. I had won.
It took a few moments for the squee of joy to rise up through my shocked body and emerge out my mouth, terrifying children and pets and sending birds racing for the skies to get away from whatever was making that obnoxious and loud noise that sounded suspiciously like a jaguar making a monumental kill for the first time. I had won.
I don't remember the prize, but I do remember the feeling -- and the story -- and the knowledge that dawned that day. It was satisfaction and pride and not a little shock.
I've entered writing contests since then and I always get a frisson of fear/pride that shudders through me and a smile that stretches from ear to ear as I read the email or open the envelope with my certificate, check, whatever inside. It feels good to win, but that isn't the reason I do it. I enter contests with the hope of being noticed by the publishing industry and readers, mostly by readers. It doesn't hurt to have a string of awards to add to my writing resume either, or to my biography.
Since I am an indie published writer you may think that entering a contest with the hope that I will end up in the contest seems disingenuous. Not at all. I would accept a contract from a publisher, but it would be on my terms and have all the things I deserve and need to make my books a success. After all, all roads lead to Rome. In this case, all roads lead to readers, and readers buy anthologies with contest winners, the best of the best. I have a few on my bookshelves. It's nice to know the competition and what kinds of stories are considered the best, if only as a measuring stick. I also enjoy reading contest anthologies because I often find a writer I didn't know about or a story that delights and surprises me for a few moments, takes me out of the working day and the struggle to string together enough words to create a story or novel. Besides, I love to read.
Why, you ask, do I mention contests today? What is the big deal? There are new contests and old favorite contests every single day of the year. Why now?
Because I came across a contest looking for the next J. K. Rowling or Stephenie Meyer. Whether you like or don't like the named authors (I like one of them), you cannot dismiss the fact that these writers, these women writers, are successful. On that score alone, being chosen as the next writer to step into the limelight is worth the effort. At the end of the contest, the winner will be published in an anthology and get a publishing contract with the bells and whistles the likes of which turned Amanda Hocking's head when she signed on the dotted line. That kind of treatment would turn anyone's head.
So, without further ado, on to the contest. Click the link, read, and then write your own prize winning story. And, if you don't win the contest, you will have at least written something you can publish indie style. There are no losers, except those unwilling to place their tuchus in a chair and write. Good luck and good writing.
Deadline: September 30, 2012
Netherworld Books: Horror, science fiction, fantasy, and paranormal romance