When I won my first writing competition I was almost 40, living in a run-down farmhouse in rural Australia and working odd jobs. I was a waitress, a mill worker and, on weekends, I guided tourists through a crocodile farm. Now, twenty years on, my writing awards have given me the freedom to give up odd jobs and focus on writing full-time.
How to Win at Writing
My stories have been published by major publishing houses (HarperCollins & Harlequin), yet in 2012 I decided to take complete control of my work and self-publish. I’ve never looked back. I chose LULU because of the amount of control I have over the entire publishing process as well as the affordability and quality of the final product.
Writing for awards and competitions has been an effective way to increase my profile in the literary world. It’s provided me with some fantastic and very legitimate marketing tools and forced me to edit and polish my work until it shines in the face of judges. If you want to win, you’ve got to get it right, and it’s the same with self-publishing – your readers are the judges and your goal is to impress them with a finely tuned product.
If you are going to enter writing awards or contests, make sure they are legitimate. Look into the publishing house or company’s previous awards and publications. Find out who is judging the award (this is an important step) and the cost to enter (some are free. but you usually have to pay a reading fee which is normally around the $5 – $25 mark). I avoid competitions where I’m required to buy books, pay a load of money, or am unsure about the reputation of the company or publishing house.
Why winning at writing matters
My latest short story was chosen in the top three in the international Ruth Rendell awards. The judge of this award was Lynda La Plante who I was invited to meet at the awards ceremony in London. I couldn’t make the ceremony but I can’t tell you how excited I was that Lynda loves my story and knows who I am. I’ve now been commissioned by InterAct Stroke Support (through the Ruth Rendell Trust) to write another story to be read in hospitals throughout the UK by British actors.
Dianne Gray lives on a sugar cane farm in rural Australia. When she’s not chasing snakes from the farmhouse or crocodiles from her yard, she’s writing. Dianne’s writing not only includes five cross-genre novels and a multitude of award-winning short stories, but she has also written articles for government websites and hosts a popular blog. She is currently updating her book of short stories and writing two novels. Why two novels at once? Dianne believes that working on two stories at the same time is the reason she never suffers from writer’s block.