Is a Literary Award Worth It?August 13, 2015

Who doesn't want recognition? Ask the writers.

There have been many literary awards, such as it's impossible to do a count. Not a few will notice that it's like a beauty pageant. Some require a fee. There are sponsors, so don't be surprised if they overshadow the event at times. Many don't have the prestige of a Nobel Prize (or the National Book Award at least). This may discourage aspiring authors, wondering if its really worth the trouble.

If you're a newbie, then a literary award is one of the first things on your mind. The goal is to be noticed, but you're not the only one with the same goal. There are millions of written works out there. And judging can be subjective. (Let's not talk about the politics behind it.) You must make yourself known to literary circles if you're really serious about a career, but there are others things to consider. Here are some tips:

Prioritize. Nothing wrong if you aspire for prominence. Many literary awards are named after a great author. The Miguel de Cervantes Prize, for instance, is a recognition of an author who lay the foundation of the modern novel. And many recipients of this award have an enviable career. (Octavio Paz, Guillermo Cabrera Infante, and Juan Gelman are some of the big names.) Don't be obsessed about prestige, though. Any writer will tell you that one must love the craft first.

Do your research. Writers join a literary contest, which is a natural thing to do. If you get a prize, then this is a good marketing platform you can build on. Make sure you choose the one that can help you make it to the next level. (If a particular contest is all about sponsors, then you might want to think twice.) This event is also a chance to find out where you are. Believe in your capabilities, but be open to constructive criticism. And if some comments are too negative, then think about your next written piece.

Live your life. At the end of the day, we don't write to win some prizes. And it's a mistake to think that you must have a career like Dan Brown. Find new experience, meet new people. Go places, if possible. Anything that will give you ideas for your next story. You can also improve your craft by accepting other jobs. Teaching, journalism, even the library. Live and work, as what other would say.

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