An ode to writing competitions ...

Posted by Jazz on Friday October 26th, 2018

Nicki Thornton's debut novel The Last Chance Hotel won the Times/Chicken House Children's Fiction Competition in 2016 and is currently Waterstones' Children's Book of the Month. Nicki has dropped by the blog to share how the competition changed her life ... 

Entering writing competitions can be a great stepping stone to getting published. They are a brilliant way to motivate yourself to get your submission package polished up and ready for someone (other than your good friend) to read.

One of the best things competitions give you is a deadline.

And entering competitions are a great way to get your story out there.

It means it will get read.

There comes a moment when you have to stop wondering if it is good enough. You have to be brave and press send. Sometimes a competition just gives you that nudge; seeming a little less daunting than submitting to an agent.

The rules are pretty much the same. Polish up whatever you are going to be judged on – an opening chapter, the first ten thousand words, a one-paragraph synopsis? The whole novel? Make sure it’s all working as hard for you as it can be. Scour the submissions rules to make sure you are following them.

And someone is going to win.

When I entered the Times/Chicken House Children’s Fiction Competition back in 2015 with my story The Last Chance Hotel, I certainly never imagined it would led to my being teamed up with a fantastic editor who shaped my story until it was good enough to be published.

Chicken House aren’t just brilliant at steering debut novelists and helping them on their first steps into publication. Before I knew it, my book had a cover design, was a thing of beauty and was going to be published in nine countries.

This all started with a competition, but this was not what I was thinking about when I focused on getting my story finished. I was just making sure I had followed all the submission guidelines and got it in the post by the deadline.

For me, that decision has made all the difference.

When you are busy polishing and getting up the confidence to send out your work, it is just possible to find it might lead to a very important reader indeed.

The competition is open now! Find out how to enter here, and follow Nicki on Twitter: @nicki_thornton

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