Why I Don’t Enter Mystery Writing Competitions

Mystery Writing Competitions – Good or Bad?

Mystery writing competitions are plentiful if you want to enter your work to be judged for an Award.

Some are quite prestigious like the Edgar Alan Poe, Dagger and Agatha Christie Awards but others seem to be given just for entering.

It’s true. There are websites around that allow you to enter a competition, provided you stump up the entry fee of $50, $100 or even $200. The organisers run their ‘prestigious’ mystery writing competitions for about a year backed by heavy promotions on Facebook, to give them enough time to rake in a few hundred grand.

They then announce about ‘500’ winners in 50 categories with the main prize being a whimsical trophy.

On the positive side it might be the antidote that keeps some writers in the game.

But for me, mystery writing competitions are a waste of time. Here’s why:

  • I don’t need to be told I’m ok

    In a world of neediness fuelled by social media, too often we are drawn to situations where we seek the approval of others.

    But that’s a trap. We have to falsely live a life purely to impress people we don’t know and possibly don’t like

  • Approval from others will keep you stuck

    Following on from the false life comment above, if you go down that path you will continue to be stuck on the hamster wheel. You’ll need to buy more designer clothes, upgrade your BMW yearly and take snapshots  in exotic European locations from your holiday paid for by your maxed out credit card.

    This glory chase will keep you in a job you hate just so you can pay the bill. Stop being suck.

    Approval comes from within. Remember the book ‘I’m Ok You’re Ok’ – it all starts with you.

  • Mystery writing competitions are a waste of your writing time.

    You could be writing a book, knocking out a reader email or posting an article to your blog instead of trying to work out how you can will a ‘two bit Award’.

    As I writer I’m here to serve my readers with more books, emails and blog posts. That’s my re-ward!

  • Mystery writing competitions won’t help sell any more books

    When was the last time you bought a book because the author had won the ‘Big Toe Print’ Award. Exactly you didn’t, did you?

So in my opinion such competitions are a total waste of time. But there are some competitions worth my time.

  1. The competition to improve my writing skill. I’m always looking to improve on yesterday’s work.
  2. The competition to increase my daily output. If I write 1000 words today, my goal for tomorrow is 1001.
  3. The competition to engage better with my readers. I love hearing from my readers.
  4. The competition to engage the best support around me – cover designers, editors and formatters.
  5. The competition to expose my books to a larger audience through both online and offline facilities

The difference with these last ‘competitions’ is that I’m competing purely with myself.


Quite simply mystery writing competitions are a total waste of time. They stop you writing and keep you stuck. Ditch the ‘Am I good enough’ mantra and start telling yourself that you are ok – and start serving your readers!

“Seeking pleasure from the outside will often result in pain. It’s an inside job”