Make the most of EIC competitions

Glenn Sapir, a long-time member and past president of both OWAA and the New York State Outdoor Writing Association (NYSOWA), has judged many writing competitions, administered the Excellence in Craft programs for numerous outdoor writers organizations, and entered many as well. Below he offers his perspectives on writing and photography awards.

“What I’ve viewed from all three perspectives and experienced as an occasional award recipient is that receiving such awards provides a multitude of benefits. First of all, any winner must feel a sense of pride for having their work judged worthy by their peers or, often, by those in positions whose judgment is valued even more than their peers’. Displaying the award reminds the recipient of their accomplishment. Don’t belittle the ego boost such an honor can provide. Of course, when cash is part of the award, that gives the bank account a little boost, too.

“Displaying it also favorably impresses people, perhaps other professionals. I still remember visiting the headquarters of OWAA supporter Walker Agency decades ago and being blown away by the wall of certificates and plaques the company and its individual employees had received.

“The publicity put out by the awarding organization can add to your image. You, however, can put publicizing in your own hands. Write a release and send it to the media that you think can help you spread the word to the population you would like to have learn about your honor. Want to be a lecturer to local organizations? Get your release in the hands of local media. Send it to the clubs and organizations to whom you wish to lecture. Make the most of your social media opportunities to spread the word. If your book wins an award, publicize it, and I’ll bet a flurry of book sales will follow.

“Furthermore, you can forever bill yourself as an award-winning communicator after receiving a first-, second- or third-place in any of these competitions, and you can tack that on to any credentials you use to identify or sell yourself, including queries, other work proposals and introductions.”

“Here are a few pointers that can enhance your chances of garnering an award:

“ Read the rules. Read the competition rules carefully, taking note of every detail—eligibility, deadline, format of entry, entry fee, etc.

“Screen entries. Screen your potential entries, narrow it down, but still consider more than the permissible number of entries, and then have a person or people whose judgment you value offer their opinions. They provide a more objective evaluation than you can of your own work.

“Focus on neatness. If your byline or other details are to be deleted on the judges’ copies, don’t just go over it with a pen for marker in an irregular fashion. If you cut out the information from an original, copies will look much neater. If your entries are digital, figure out a way to make the judges’ copies clean. Although that shouldn’t affect the judges’ evaluation of your work, it might. At least one judge commented on that when scoring a not-so-neat NYSOWA entry.”

OWAC’s 2022 EIC Contest rules, guidelines, and entry form will be announced in January and again cash prizes will be awarded.

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Peter Schroeder


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