Tuesday, June 12, 2018

What a Writer Gains By Entering Contests

by Cindy Sproles @CindyDevoted

And the winner is. . . 

It doesn’t matter if you’ve entered one writing contest or 20. Waiting on the result makes your heart skip a beat. Writers work hard on their manuscripts, and stepping out to enter them in a contest is a little scary. 

There’s a certain excitement at a conference when it’s time to announce the winners. Conferees clamor as each category is called. The genre is called. The category announced. Third place. Not you. Second place. Not you. First place—and you know the odds are 50/50. You will leave ecstatic or disappointed. Like I said, your heart skips a beat.

Contests are a wonderful part of a conference. When you enter, it says you are confident in your work. Of course there are levels of writing. The new writer may experience a few more disappointments over a writer who is a bit more seasoned, but it’s important and vital that you, the writer, continue to enter contests.

Here’s what the writer gains by entering contests:
  • Confidence: Many writers, new or seasoned, will experience, from time to time, a lack of self-confidence. Breaking into the industry is tough. There are relatively few book slots for publishers to fill and that makes the competition stiff. When you work hard on your manuscript, finish it, then enter a contest, you are sending a message, not only to yourself, but to others, that you are confident enough as a writer to make the effort. A confident writer becomes one willing to learn the craft and improve over time. Confidence is important.
  • Experience: Every time a writer enters a contest, they gain valuable experience in meeting deadlines and appropriately making their work fit the guidelines. Experience is not a given talent. It’s learned and earned through effort and attempts. There are times you will win and times you won’t. Either way, you have practiced the skill of following directions and meeting deadlines. Experience is valuable.
  • Success: Winning is always sweet but it’s important to keep the win in perspective.  For example, when you win a conference contest the award says you have the best work at that particular conference. It doesn’t mean it’s the best nationwide. So keep the win in perspective. Be gracious with your win and when the contest is over, strive to take your work up a notch. A win should push you to try and win again, not give you permission to assume you’ve “made it.”
  • Loss: There is little more humbling than loss. It strikes us hard in our self-esteem but loss is as important as success – if not more so. Why? Because loss keeps us in check. It digs up the determination to be a better writer. Loss forces consistency and drives us to learn the craft. Loss is the flame that lights the wick that drives us to try and try again. 

Write. Enter contests. Win some. Lose some. But enter. The contests you enter will make you a more prepared writer in a tough industry. When your name is called as the winner—it will be oh, so sweet.


Cindy Sproles is an award-winning author and popular speaker. She is the cofounder of Christian Devotions ministries and managing editor of Straight Street Books and SonRise Devotionals, imprints of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. Cindy is the executive editor of www.christiandevotions.us and 
www.inspireafire.comShe teaches at writers conferences nationwide and directs The Asheville Christian Writers Conference - Writers Boot Camp. 

She is the author of two devotionals, He Said, She Said - Learning to Live a Life of Passion and New Sheets - Thirty Days to Refine You into the Woman You Can Be. Cindy's debut novel, Mercy's Rain, is available at major retailers. Visit Cindy at www.cindysproles.com and book her for your next conference or ladies retreat. Also connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.


  1. Great article Ms. Cindy. I just entered my first writing contest, since grade school anyway, and am nervous as a cat in a rocking chair factory. I've long believed that the word FAIL is an acronym for First Attempt Is Learning. We fail only when we quit trying. You are so right in stating "... winning only spurs us on to greater things..." God's blessings ma'am.

  2. Contests are as different as the organizations that run them. Therefore, writers should be discerning about which ones they enter. For example, some contests may lack the optimal category for your book. Others may not be run with the standards we would hope for. Spend those marketing dollars wisely! Most authors only have so many of them to go around.