Writers often ask, “Do awards really matter? Are some writing awards more valuable than others? Let me address those questions today.
Awards do matter for a number of reasons. Let me count some of the ways in a quick list of sorts:
- Awards can bring attention to the awardee in a crowded arena. I found the wonderful writer Lori Benton, who’s now my client, when she won a contest we were judging.
- A smart writer can leverage an award with press releases to get additional media attention. I’ve seen a number of writers do this successfully, especially with their hometown newspapers , who tend to love a story about one of their own.
- Sometimes an award is just the attaboy a writer needs to pull himself out of that all-too-regular state of self-doubt. I’ll bet I could get a decent show of hands from those who look at their writing with disdain halfway through the process. I longed to be a writer but at my first conference I was cowed by the real writers around me. I could hardly bring myself to come to meals I felt so out of place. The very next year, at the same conference, I won the Mount Hermon 1999 Writer of the Year award. Had I earned it? Probably not, but it was just the encouragement I needed to keep writing and, later, move into literary management.
- Awards are often judged by publishing professionals who will contact an award winner with interest in the manuscript. I know one of my early clients won a Tyndale House writing contest that included an offer of publication.
- Once in a while an award will shine light on who you are and confirm your passions or head you in a different direction. My very first ever award was at a doll show when I was ten years old. Yes, every child won an award that day, but who would have guessed that the first 30 years of my working life would be as a sculptor and designer of dolls. Had that award helped? Maybe. I recently told my boss and friend, Janet, that in the 8th grade I won the Crisco Homemaker of the Year award. When she stopped laughing, we talked about what awards can sometimes tell us about ourselves. Years later, my college majors were art and home economics– which I’ve used all my life. I studied textiles, cooking and home management, organization, child development and interior design. I still study those things to this day.
How about the relative value of awards? Let’s consider some of these.
There are always “top” awards– in film and television, we know it’s the Oscars and the Emmys. In the Christian writing field, it may be the CT Book of the Year, the Christy’s and the Carol for fiction. There are many more. But what about book awards given at a conference for instance? Those can be valuable in another way– the editors and agents at the conference have spent time with you, perhaps judged your work, and then they see you walk across the stage. How’s that for visibility?
So, all in all, do awards really matter? Yes. For many different reasons. In the comments below share with us some of the awards you received in writing and in other areas of your life.