Winning Writing Competitions – Yes You Can!

Competition Success

Author/Editor Annette Young

By Annette Young

Writing competitions – they are a unique way of firing up your enthusiasm for the written word and sending your skill level to crazy new heights. Receiving notification that you have won a writing competition is pretty special. It’s like having your Christmas and birthday presents wrapped up in one sensational moment. You feel good. No, you feel great. More than a boost to your self-esteem, more than an eureka moment – what am I going to spend all that cash on? It’s confirmation that your writing skills are pretty good.

You can be a prolific writer and you can have the best technical writing skills in the world but it doesn’t mean you are going to win any writing competitions – why? Because to win writing competitions, you have to enjoy it. You have to look at the competitions that are on offer and think wow, I really want to have a go at that. Those with a theme are often easier if you are just starting out, or, if you just like having a trigger to springboard your creativity to new heights.

Having a passion for the written word is vital. Enjoying that brain pulsing moment when you take an idea and run with it and find out that hey, it’s a pretty good idea, well, that’s a great moment. You have to be able to live and breathe writing. To stand at the sink tackling the washing up when really, your mind is far away solving mysteries in the Caribbean, or enjoying an illicit preview of your characters clandestine affair.

But more than excitement, you have to be prepared to knuckle down and actually do the work. You have the ideas, you’ve narrowed them down, then you need to find your starting point. Depending on your word count allowance, your starting point might be very close to the end, but decide on this first of all and then let the words flow. Make the opening sentence dynamic. Choose your words carefully, make every one count. Just because you are a competition writer, it doesn’t mean you don’t embark on the whole re-writing element of the game. Change it, shine it, polish it. It represents you but don’t sit on it, doubting it until after the closing date.

Entering writing competitions enables you to put yourself out there. You are endorsing your work and saying, here I am. This is what I am about. Although your work undergoes a judging process, you, the writer are not judged. We know all about the writing journey and often, it starts with writing competitions like ours. The main element to winning is to enter in the first place. It’s as simple as that. You will never start to know how good you are until your work is circulating, doing the rounds. If faced with rejection, take another look at your submission. Could you have improved it? If yes, tweak it, save it and then submit it to another writing competition -assuming the story-line fits. When you write with determination and dedication, you will see  your work progress in leaps and bounds.

So can you win writing competitions? Yes, you can, you just have to dream up a captivating idea, enhance it, write it and then send it.

Marketing Your Author Website

SEO

Author/Editor Annette Young

by Annette Young

As an author, it is imperative that you have a website and start building your brand, but it’s easy to fall foul of unscrupulous marketing practices if you are not 100% certain what you are doing. Having fresh content added to your website regularly is important and will help keep your dedicated readers coming back as well as ensuring that Google and other search engines will start to notice your site.

For any author, there is no getting away from social networking and as many authors are going the indie-route these days, any marketing falls solely at the feet of the author. Even with traditional publishing now, the more the author can do to get the word out the better.

As an author myself, I know the importance of having a popular website. Take the Creative Competitor site for instance, in the last few months, visitors have trebled. I am sure this is because I promote the site and content regularly and I always try to make the articles and posts informative. If you are designing your author website, think in terms of simplicity. Marketing and design are both important but I know authors who have spent a fortune on having the most whizzy of designs but in user terms, frankly, it’s too annoying to wait for pages to load. Think always of the user experience. This will also stand you in good stead for search engine placement. Why? Because Google, (who let’s be honest runs the show) change their algorithms regularly with the visitor in mind.  So, fresh content, easy to read and informative equals quality in their eyes.

If you have searched the web in recent years you may well have come across poorly written articles all geared up towards high density keyword placement and it ruined the articles. If you are not sure what high density keyword placement is, good. Don’t bother. Just write your blog posts with your readers in mind. Keep it fresh and entertaining. Some people will mention back-links to you and will offer you their services, do not fall into this trap. Some savvy but not so honest marketers went the way of the paid back links but they were not genuine links and Google soon saw through this new little ploy to beat their latest rules.

Also worth considering is whether people can view your site easily on their mobile devices and tablets, so if you are looking for a website theme currently, keep this in mind. Mobile access is likely to exceed  access via the traditional desktop or laptop devices.

For 2014, Google has specified that good quality content written by authors with specific expertise will be a main focus (my words, not theirs) so in which case, become an expert in  your area and, if necessary, pull in the services of other experts to write pieces for your blog.  Content always has and always will be king, but fresh and quality content will always beat tired, old recycled articles- even if they are well-written. When you have your website in place, make the decision to add new content several times a week. If you start with a dedicated plan of action, write blog posts, or add excerpts from your books and do this each week, your site popularity will soon build. It doesn’t have to be just blog posts or articles of course, use video, PowerPoint and social media clips to keep the content fresh.

Never forget why you are setting up your website and what you are offering to your visitors. You are a writer, so enjoy the craft of writing for your readers. SEO – search engine optimization is important, but just as important is having your vision and providing tantalising snippets of information that will keep your readers coming back. Make your site a popular one and you can bet that the search engines will find you.

If you need help promoting your books, ask us. We provide a professional but affordable marketing service for authors globally.

Don’t Wait Until It’s Too Late

Author/Editor Annette YoungWith the sad demise of actor/comedian Rik Mayall recently, it got me thinking about how we conduct our lives and play out our dreams. We think that we have all the time in the world to achieve our goals but the harsh reality is that we don’t. Although it’s easy to see that Rik Mayall more than achieved in his 56 years, many of us don’t and we need to question why.

Some people have a passion in life and strive forward determinedly, others may have opportunities presented to them but even so, the secret to success is that these people clutch those opportunities with both hands and do not let self-doubts or time restraints hold them back.

We are all guilty of procrastination. There are times when I feel the urge to do anything bar write. Tiredness, stress or even the enjoyable social aspects of life can actually all get in the way of our true path. This post isn’t a stark reminder of our mortality rather, a reminder that if you have a dream, don’t wait, get on with it.

There is nothing more painful than regret and knowing that you could have done so much better. Although my passion is writing, the message here can relate to all goals in life. No-one knows what lies ahead of them. Life is rosy and longevity may seem certain when your health is good, but health and circumstances can change rapidly. As much as it will be terribly painful for Rik Mayall’s family, he leaves behind a multitude of visual reminders and he will stay alive in the memories of all who admired him, what aspects of your life will you leave behind? How would you want others to remember you? If you have a dream, writing a novel, a play, or even getting a short story published, don’t think about it, or dream about it, do it. Start now and know that you put your heart and soul into something that is important to you.

None of us want to think ‘if only’ when our time is up.

Quick Rules for Freelance Writing Success

If you are looking to break into freelance writing – whether on a full-time or part-time basis, there are some important characteristics that the top freelancers all share. If you can take into account and adopt some of these characteristics into your own writing, then you will stand a much better chance at becoming successful and earning money from your writing.

1. A professional writer writes every single day. They make time to write. Even if they are not working on a paid for project, writers still find a creative pursuit, perhaps updating their website, writing a new blog post or searching for new paid writing projects.

2. A dedicated writer learns how to study freelance markets and analyses publications thoroughly before attempting to write for them. A successful writer checks out the editorial calenders to know just when is the best time to ‘pitch’ any ideas.

3. Writing a winning proposal or query letter is vital if you wish to get jobs. Knowing how to hook that editor or potential client makes the difference between winning and losing a writing project.

Want to read the rest of these 10 top tips for freelancing success? Head over to our membership section and have the latest newsletter  sent directly to you.

About Write to be Published

Our Write to be Published newsletter forms a part of our Premier1 membership and provides the perfect way for you to improve your writing and to take it seamlessly to the next level.Even better, as part of our continued commitment to invest in our members, there will be more opportunities than ever to study the art of writing and to learn first-hand how to get your work to publication standard.

If you wish to take that step to publishing success, click here for details:

Take a Step Up the Writing Ladder Today

Our Premier1 Membership has been revamped and is brimming over with writing advice, tips and even video coaching sessions. If you are a serious writer and want a truly inspirational membership package then join us and escalate your career to new levels. No matter what your current level of experience or how much time you have to invest, we will take you by the hand and help you to improve your technique, increase your potential for publication and to help you earn money from your writing.

It’s the fun way to get more creative!

What sort of information will I get?

Regular writing jobs and opportunities but we will also look at how you apply for them and even what you need to do if you get awarded a writing job. We also look at how to build your brand as a writer. But this membership isn’t just for writers of non-fiction, it looks at writing as a whole and will help you to improve your fiction to publication standard.

We are adding video coaching sessions so  that you feel like you are having one to one coaching.

Our membership package is crammed full of writing information and if you want to get writing membership at an incredible price…

Want more information? Click here!