I must admit that I didn’t see the point in writing competitions for a long time. Winning them seemed so unlikely that I couldn’t justify the entry fees. Doing one is fine, it’s a tenner that you might have spent on a few takeaway coffees. But do a few and you soon find that you’ve eaten in to your writing budget without necessarily gaining anything from it. That is if you even have a writing budget, which I do not.
After my first novel was published at the end of 2017, I found myself at a loose end. I really hate myself for saying it out loud, but being a published author was my wildest dream, and yet when it happened, all I could think was ‘what next?’. Writing another novel was the obvious choice, which I did, but that takes time and I didn’t like that from the outside it looked like I was twiddling my thumbs. I knew that wouldn’t look good to agents and I wanted to build my writing profile. That’s when something unexpected happened. I made a tweet that blew up and through that, amongst other things, I created Writers Represented with author Mahsuda Snaith. We champion and inform under represented writers and be the change we want to see in the industry. You can read more about our project here. Through Writers Represented, Mahsuda retweeted a competition called WriteNow run by Penguin. The competition called for manuscripts from under-represented writers, including working class writers such as myself. And to make it better, entering was absolutely free. With literally nothing to lose, I sent in the first part of my work-in-progress, and to be honest, completely forgot about it. That is, until I got an email saying I had been longlisted.
I was invited to the WriteNow event in Nottingham to have my novel looked at by an editor, watch panels, and learn more about the industry. Although I wasn’t shortlisted, it was a magical day and I learned so much. It also gave my work-in-progress some validation. (Plus, a goodie bag with books!!)
Now I have the writing competition buzz, but no budget to accompany that. And so, my mission for this summer is to find free or cheap competitions to enter. In my next post, I will let you know what I find and my upcoming plans.
What is your experience with writing competitions?