Food for thought from Deborah: Did you enter writing contests when you first started out? Do you recommend entering contests to writers? Why or why not?

SW: Almost none. Very early on, I didn’t know such things existed. When I first heard of RWA, I wanted to enter the Golden Heart, but–no exaggeration here–I was too broke to afford the entry and copying fees. I recall entering two contests as an unpub. One offered feedback that was too obscure for me to make sense of (remember, I’m a self-taught writer) and the other offered encouraging words from a writer I later became good friends with–the wonderful Debbie Macomber.

I can’t give a blanket recommendation one way or another. A writer should decide whether or not a contest will help her toward her goal or not, and base her decision on that.

Contests can help in marketing, assuming it’s a prestigious award and the judges are skilled. I recently read a debut novel, According to Jane, by Marilyn Brant. Her editor sent it to me requesting an endorsement. And it’s wonderful. The author was a finalist in the Golden Heart, and I assume this helped her find a publisher.

A writer needs to decide for herself whether or not a contest is going to help her, motivate her, inspire her…or needlessly stress her out.

What do you think about entering contests? And if you know a book is an award-winner, are you more likely to give it a shot?