Writers: Enter Writing Contests

These words of wisdom by Annie Oakley
were made into a needlepoint, framed,
and now hang above my desk. I follow
them every day.

By Linda Wilson

If you read last month’s post, “Writers: Let Mistakes Be Your Teachers,” https://www.writersonthemove.com/2021/08/writers-let-mistakes-be-your-teachers.html, you will know that recently I entered my first picture book story in a contest and won! The only thing was that I forgot a niggling little detail: that the story had to be unpublished. During the time it took to receive the contest results, I published the book. Painfully, I had to disqualify myself and someone else won the prize. Bottom line: I got so involved in publishing the book that I’d forgotten about the contest until it was too late.

Never fear! If we indie authors have anything, we have determination and just plain guts! As a positive remedy, I vowed to enter other contests, and more importantly, I vowed to enter a new story in the contest that I forfeited next year.

Lists Don’t Cut It

The first thing I did was submit a few of my works in four contests. I thought I would keep track of the entries in a list. Quickly, I realized the list did not work. Since then, I have made a chart: much better.

On this chart I have sectioned off the contest name, date entered, deadline, date winners are announced, submission information, the folder where I’ve saved the info, and contact information. Some of the contests are not open yet, so I’ve noted the opening dates and cross-checked the dates by putting them on my daily calendar. In all, I have collected information for ten contests.

Where to Learn about Contests

Here is the list of the contests I have researched so far that appear on my chart. Check them out. I was amazed to find that quite a few of my works fit into the various contest categories.

Moonbeam Book Awards: https://www.moonbeamawards.com/

IPPY Award—Independent Publisher Book Awards: https://www.ippyawards.com/

CIPA EVVY Award: Colorado Independent Publishers Association: https://cipabooks.com/cipa-evvy-awards/

ICL Awards: https://www.instituteforwriters.com/writing-contests/

Searchlight Writing for Children Award: https://www.searchlightawards.co.uk/

PNWA: Pacific Northwest Writers Association Contest: https://pnwa-contests.webflow.io/

Southwest Writers Contest: https://www.southwestwriters.com/2021-call-for-submissions-sww-annual-writing-contest/

New Mexico Book Coop NM-AZ Book Awards: https://www.nmbookcoop.com/

Foreword Reviews Awards: https://www.forewordreviews.com/awards/

The Sky is the Limit

I have just scratched the surface. I haven’t even looked into what SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) has to offer. And as you can see, in some cases I've stuck close to home as a resident of New Mexico. But it’s a start. There is an entry fee for each contest, some steeper than others. I have budgeted what I can afford and then am going for it.

I’m sure I’m preaching to the choir here, but entering contests is a great way to practice submitting professional manuscripts that agents and editors expect, as is encouraged by the Institute of Children’s Literature. Referring to the Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards, the organization’s site explains that, “As our society has gotten more complex and growing up has become more complicated, children’s book authors and publishers have risen to the occasion, creating books that not only celebrate the joys of childhood, but also help kids and families deal with its challenges. The Moonbeam Awards will recognize and reward the best of these books and bring them to the attention of booksellers, librarians, parents and children.

For the 2021 Moonbeam award, somehow my entry did not appear in my submission. I didn’t know that until Director Jim Barnes was nice enough to email me to request that I attach my submission in my return email to him. I was most thankful for his concern so that my entry would not be overlooked.

Entering these contests has taken time and effort, but it has given me a new outlet to vet my work. Who knows if any of my stories will win any contests? The best part of it is, if they don’t, I am spurred on to continually improve my stories until they are worthy of becoming winners in the eyes of discerning judges, and finally in the minds and hearts of my readers, who deserve the best that I can offer.

Photos by Linda Wilson

Annie Oakley quote: Jotted down and kept close to my heart ever since,

from the Garst Museum and National Annie Oakley Center, in Greenville, Ohio.

Linda's current WIP is the picture book,
Waddles the Duck: Hey, Wait for Me!
 Linda Wilson, a former elementary teacher, has published over 150 articles for children and adults, several short stories for children, and her books, Secret in the Stars: An Abi Wunder Mystery, and A Packrat's Holiday: Thistletoe's Gift, which are available on Amazon, https://www.amazon.com/author/lindawilsonchildrensauthor. Secret in the Mist, the second book in the Abi Wunder Myatery series, and the picture book, Tall Boots, will be out soon. Visit Linda at https://www.lindawilsonauthor.com


Karen Cioffi said...

Linda, what great information on entering writing contests. And, why you had to forfeit your win is a good lesson for all writers. Thanks for sharing!

lastpg said...

You're welcome, Karen. It seems the most important lessons we learned at the most difficult. It was in this case. I was crushed. But it was only because I wasn't keeping track of everything I was doing. I'm not letting that happen again!

lastpg said...

I hope it helps! Thanks for writing.

Terry Whalin said...


Thanks for this informative article about writing contests. In my writing life, I have not entered many contests--which explains why I haven't won many awards. Like getting published where you have to busmit, you have to enter contests to possibly win them. I've seen many writers enter contests and use these awards in the promotion of their books.


lastpg said...

Thank you for writing, Terry. I thought I'd try my hand at contests, see what happens. Going through the exercise helped me think out of the box, too. I entered two adult contests, one the 100-word contest for The Writer, which was fun and challenging. The other a short short story for Narrative Magazine about an experience I had when I was eight years old. I hope I win!

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