There have been a few competitions that I thought I had a shot at winning lately. Author’s Publish Magazine sends an email to subscribers featuring 30+ magazines that are open for submissions for short stories or novels. I took the opportunity to specifically look for horror magazines and submit some of my old ghost stories. I still want to improve my horror writing, but so far none of the contests have accepted my short stories. I’ve also gotten into Reedsy.com, which has weekly short story and flash fiction contests that costs $5 per entry. I like Reedsy because they provide prompts so it’s a good exercise for coming up with ideas quickly and flushing out a full story in 1000-3000 words. None of my submissions to Reedsy or horror magazines have been accepted and it kind of killed my confidence. Not having any successes to report has also hindered confidence among my writing group. Other writers in that group have been actively submitting as well but also haven’t had any successes. I was starting to get frustrated, and I doubt I was alone in feeling that way.
Feelings became more positive recently when I delivered a big piece of good news. While Googling open writing contests I came across one called The Book Fest. I signed up and submitted Public Display of Aggression back in February of this year. I submitted it for multiple categories, and recently was informed that the book won 3rd place for Fantasy Thriller genre and received an Honorable Mention for the cover art (special thanks to Lothar Speer for being such a dedicated illustrator). It isn’t 1st place, but I’m not complaining. It looks like there were hundreds of books submitted, so 3rd place is definitely a reason to be proud.
I’m still exploring ways to capitalize on this victory. The Book Fest offered a few different prizes but I didn’t purchase all of them. The cheapest prize was a set of “Winner” stickers. While simple, I believe it will be effective. At ABQ Comic Con earlier this year, Marie Parks placed stickers on her book, Unrelenting, indicating it won a Book Pipeline LGBTQ+ aware and it seemed to boost interest in and sales of her novel. Another prize was a press release. My plan for that is to print copies and ask bookstores if they’re willing to display it in their window for at least a weekend. There was also a pretty exclusive prize which was to have the book cover displayed on a billboard in New York City. I really wanted to take advantage of that, but it was a few hundred dollars and I’m hesitant about spending that much on anything. By the time I decided it was worth the cost, I discovered that space on the billboard was filled up, so that was a missed opportunity.
The important thing is that morale among the aspiring authors I meet weekly has been lifted and my confidence has been boosted. Gaining recognition for a craft like creative writing is a numbers game. I’m still on the lookout for short story competitions and I’m bound to win one of those eventually, but a book award is more valuable. It’s an award for a product that’s able to be widely distributed and will hopefully cultivate interest in the Mystic Rampage series overall.