Admittedly, I’ve grappled with this one. The value of a book should never be determined by a single judge or a small panel of judges. Authors have no idea what life experiences have influenced the opinions of the judge(s)—or how many manuscripts the judge(s) had to read in a pressured timeframe.
Did they read your submission on a day that everything else was going wrong in their life and so nothing they read that day landed quite right in their psyche? Did your protagonist have the same name as their awful ex? Do YOU have the same name as their ex—or the kid who bullied them in grade school? There are just too many subtleties influencing the spectrum of emotions in the human mind to define one’s worth as an author by a single contest.
That said, it’s super fun when a talented stranger reads your work and says, “Yes! I enjoyed this manuscript more than ALL the other submissions, and I want to announce it to the world!”
Just be sure to keep it in perspective. If you don’t take it too seriously, writing contests can be a fun and effective marketing tool. As such, cost is also important to take into consideration. If you don’t win, the investment can feel heftier. However, if you win, the nod from a reputable judge and the value of the marketing exposure often outweighs the entry fee.
If you’d like to roll the dice and submit your writing to some contests, below is a list of popular writing competitions for self-published (indie) authors in no particular order:
(Awards with a ★ have been won by my clients)
Indie Reader Discovery Awards ★
Eric Hoffer Book Award
Firebird Book Awards ★
Independent Publisher Book Awards
IBPA Benjamin Franklin Award
Writer's Digest Self Published Awards
The Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Award
The Next Generation Indie Book Awards
Best Indie Book Award
National Indie Excellence Awards
Independent Press Award ★
Nautilus Book Awards ★
Just remember, if you don’t win, no one has to know you submitted! ;)