I often used to wonder whether winning competitions or gaining awards had any impact on authors and, if so, how and to what extent?
Let me give you a snapshot into some of my own experiences. When my self-published debut novel was put forward by readers for The People’s Book Awards, I was thrilled, but perhaps naively didn’t expect it to win, or for it to make any great impact on my journey as a writer. It subsequently gained sales and readers (after a cover redesign with the award added to the front) and was picked up by a couple of agencies. It was decided that the book wouldn’t quite fit the market at the time, which is partly why I had decided to self-publish. I was then contacted by an editor who sent my work to other agents, and a small publishing company, who also came to the same conclusion.
Some of my short stories won awards (I won the Litro Environmental Disaster flash fiction competition), which boosted sales of my stand alone short stories.
I have come to the conclusion that, while it does undoubtedly raise your profile as a writer, the importance of your journey lies in continually writing and working on new stories and novels. It’s a long distance run, rather than a sprint.
I have decided to self publish my second novel (because it falls between a commercial thriller and literary fiction), and I will probably do the same with my second collection of short stories (many of which have been published in online journals).
How about you? Are you a writer? What has been your experience of awards and competitions?