For those of you living under a rock for the past 5 years, there is a little
war contest for self-published authors that takes place every year. It’s called the Self-Publishing Fantasy Blog-Off and it is hosted by Mark Lawrence. To enter, one must be self-published. It’s important because out of these books, the finalists receive a lot of attention. A LOT of attention. First off, ten blogs read the finalists books. That, in itself, is huge for those of us trying to Do It All Ourselves. Then you have the hashtag on Twitter, which people follow…and will read the finalists books.
So this year I entered Sorrowfish in the contest.
Here’s the thing about entering contests. About marketing in general. You have to love your book and believe in it. REALLY believe in it. You have to squash that voice inside you that is explaining to you in intimate detail how your beginning is too slow and No One Wants to Read Your Book. You have to fight back. Which is why I’ve re-read my book 50 times. When the voice gets too loud, I reread it. I thumb my nose at that voice. I tell it “My book is as good as I could possibly make it.” It is.
and that’s all I can ask.
You cannot let this or any other contest define you. I entered one contest where surprise, surprise! The winners were all published by small-to-large publishing houses. They discriminated against self-published books. Meh. It happens. There’s a possibility that every single judge in this or any other contest might not like gnomes or happiness or joy, they’re just into war and grimdark. They won’t like my book. Oh well. It doesn’t change me, or my book. My voice still matters.
But, you know what you can get out of a contest? This or any other contest?
You can make friends. You can read the others’ books. You can look at the journey as your prize. You can commiserate with the other entrants. You can be as helpful as possible. And when the finalists are announced, you can honestly cheer for them.
Tim Grahl says that marketing is about forming lasting relationships and being relentlessly helpful. So that is what I will do. I’m in it to meet people. I’m in it to be helpful. I’m in it to win it, sure. But if I don’t, I will try again next time I can.
Sorrowfish was not liked by The Wishing Shelf Awards. Apparently they didn’t like my cover. Sigh. But Indies Today loved it. Some people don’t like pizza. It doesn’t make pizza bad. SPFBO may not choose my book to be a finalist. If that happens, I will be disappointed as hell. But it won’t be a verdict. As a self-published author, my job is to be who I am as loud as I can. Pizza is good. My book is good. Entering this contest will gain me exposure and hopefully, friendships, no matter what else happens. And with every step I take, I learn more for next time.
I’ve kinda come to the conclusion that not just #SPFBO but this whole gig, this writing thing, is about the journey. I’m glad to be along for the ride.
Maybe I’m growing up.