Fees usually pay for advertising the contest, for the prizes, and sometimes for small gratuities given to thank the judges for their time. Just make sure that as the contest entrant, you get the most important thing for your fee-someone who actually reads your acim. And also that the contest winner actually wins something (see “What is the prize?” below).
Beware of additional fees once you win the contest, such as receiving a discount on book coaching services. You may end up having to pay for extra award stickers-no contest is going to give you unlimited stickers-but beyond that, there should be no extra fees.
Along with fees, also note how many copies of your book are needed. A legitimate contest will usually need more than one book because there are multiple judges who will need to read the book. See also if a statement is made about what happens to the books-do the judges keep them or donate them to a library? Either is fine. You just don’t want to enter a contest where the goal is to collect books that will not be read but sold to earn extra money.
There are three ways that you can get your book published-through self-publishing, through a publishing company or as an e-book.
Getting a book published through a publishing company will guarantee a large distribution, slightly better legitimacy, a better chance for being stocked in bookstores and a better chance for reviews. Publishing companies have large marketing resources to help make sure their books are given the best exposure to the market. Publishing companies also offer editorial services, book design, and target audience marketing to make sure your book has the best chance for success.
The hardest part about getting a book published through a publishing company is getting them interested. Most publishers are looking for the easy sell. What that means is that they chose to publish books by authors who have a demonstrated platform. A platform is a word for audience. When a publishing company considers a new author, the main thing they want to know is who will buy this author’s book.
A writer with a demonstrated platform gives the publishing company confidence the book will make a profit. The types of platforms publishers generally look for are authors who are nationally known and can command media attention–this is why so many celebrities are able to write books. Other platforms include large mailing lists or newsletter subscribers, being the head of a large company, having a very active speaking schedule before large audiences, being a TV commentator or radio commentator, being in a high-profile position, being considered an expert in your field, etc.
The second thing a publisher looks for is whether the author has something significant to say. Is the information the wants to communicate timely, unique, interesting, new, fresh, insightful, funny? In the case of fiction, is the story well written, are the characters new, exciting, marketable?
Finally a publisher will want to know what the author is willing to do to help sell the book. Have a marketing proposal ready when meeting with the publishing company. The more you sell your book and make it seem interesting, and profitable, the more likely the company is to publish it.
Do not put all your eggs in one basket. Branch out to many publishing companies. The more companies you target, the more likely you are to get your book published. Fourteen agents rejected Stephanie Meyer’s blockbuster vampire book before one took a chance.