On this day in 2014 I published 100th Post!.
I honestly wasn’t sure if I’d written about contests before on here. I had to do some searching of the archives just to make sure. I don’t think I have. So, let’s begin.
First off, writing contests differ greatly. We recently had the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award that offered ridiculous monetary prizes and publishing contracts. Then we have Macmillan with their handful of annual competitions, though I think they sometimes go calendar years without a winner. Then there are a million others that can be found online.
Ever think of entering one? Or maybe you’ve entered several. If someone told me that I absolutely had to enter a competition I’d go with Macmillan’s PI contest. It may not be as lucrative as some others, but I know there are not thousands of entrants every year. I know because I’ve been told by someone who won it. Steve Hamilton. I have all but two of his books. And when I met him a few years ago he told everyone in attendance that if we’re thinking of publishing a book, that we should try the comp. He’d judged the previous year and said there were a few hundred people entered. But I very highly doubt I’ll ever be winning any major contest. Which is fine by me.
But really, I don’t much see the point of entering any one of the many competitions that do not offer a publishing contract. So I’m going to send you my book for a prize of $50 and a critique by a “publishing expert”? Or I’m going to send you my book for chance to attend a writing conference that no one has ever heard of? Or I’m going to send you my book for a chance to be published by an indie press that publishes five books a year and makes its authors no money from their work? Uh no. And those are the kinds of competitions I’ve come across.
There are a few writing contests that are absolutely worth your time and effort, but there are so many more that simply aren’t. You just have to know which it is.
I mentioned in a post earlier this week that I’ve been to a couple of author events. They were for authors T. Jefferson Parker and Steve Hamilton. Now you may not know either of them, but they have both won two Edgars. I’ve written about the Edgars and they are a HUGE deal when it comes to mystery writing. And both of these guys have won an award twice. Not an easy feat.
Let me tell you about the actual events. They were both held in a small indie bookstore by the name of Murder by the Book here in Houston. And let me tell you, ALL of the big mystery authors who go on tour come to this store. There are a couple other indie stores in Houston who have author events, but I’d have to think that this is the most successful. Anyway, the events I attended were pretty much exactly the same. Both times the author spoke for maybe 20 minutes or a half hour and then started signing everyone’s books. The 20 minutes may not seem like much, but if you listen you can learn quite a bit about them. I know I did.
The best part for me was definitely when they signed my books. I think I got four signed by both. I don’t feel like snapping pictures, but trust me that they’re signed. AND another great thing that I learned was that both of these famous authors who have surely sold millions of books are no different from anyone else you might know. T. Jefferson Parker helped me get my hands on a couple of his books that were unavailable from any of the major retailers. And Steve Hamilton snapped a photo! How freaking cool were they?
I have some minimal experience as an author on the other side. Maybe some of you know that I had a signing at my university all the way back in November. It happened just a couple of weeks after my book was released and I had a lot of fun. I sold all but four of the books I’d taken with me. And I’d had classes with a bunch of the guys who were pretty happy to see that I’d written a book literally right out of school. Of course, I never heard anything from any of the 21 people who bought one that day. So who knows what they thought of the actual writing.
The point of this post is to tell you all that I think author events or signings are actually pretty great. I don’t think they necessarily drive many new readers the author’s way, but I’m certain that plenty of his or her regular readers will attend events year after year. And it gives the author the opportunity to interact with readers in a manner that social media or other public appearances just don’t allow.
Two things: Have you ever been to an author event? Or have you ever had one of your own?
This was from my signing. It was CJ Majors Day.
This is NYT bestselling author Steve Hamilton. Oh my goodness. This was three years ago, I was teeny tiny with braces and just ugh.