Here’s a question. At what point is a writer justified in calling themselves “award winning” or “prize winning”?
It’s a common enough claim on social media. “So and so, award/prize winning writer/author.”
(For the rest of this blog, if I say “award winning”, think of it as “award or prize winning”. It’s less clumsy than stating it every single time!)
Now, I’m not questioning any of those writers’ claims to be award winning. This is not a rant about people claiming to be award winning when they’re not. I’m sure the vast majority of the claims are true – I just wonder what counts as “award winning” in these cases, and where to draw the line? If I won a school award for a story back when I was 9 years old, does that mean I can claim to be “award winning”? Is a “prize” the same as an “award”? Does there need to be a monetary value to the prize or award? Lots and lots of questions that I don’t have the answer to.
In my own case, I could confidently call myself a “prize winning” writer (I don’t think “award winning” would be right in my case) because in 2004 I won the oncewritten.com Midnight Hour Halloween Fiction Contest with the story “The Midnight Hour”. Then, in 2006, I won the Writing Prompt Contest, also on oncewritten.com, with the story “Conversation”. Both of these contests had cash prizes, and the proof of my winning is still there on the website. But I don’t tag myself as “prize winning” because these prizes were some time ago and I’m not sure they’re relevant to me as a writer now. Am I right to do that? Or am I missing some great marketing potential by not telling everyone?
I personally think that the best way to do this is that all claims of “award winning” or “prize winning” should be accompanied by the particular prize or award won, and its date. That way the visitor/reader can judge for themselves whether the claim is relevant or impressive enough to be taken note of. I know some writers already do this, but I think all such claims should be accompanied by those details. As long as the claim is genuine, where’s the harm?
If you’ve won an award or prize, be proud of it. If it’s relevant enough for you to tell everyone, tell us which particular award or prize you won, and when. Boast about it. Why not? I personally love to know that a writer I’m looking at is a past Stoker or Hugo Award winner (or similar). It’s shows they have some ability as a writer and are worth a closer look.
And if you’ve never won an award? Don’t worry, there’s lots of us out here. Doesn’t mean we’re any less as writers, just that we don’t tick certain boxes or simply haven’t been “discovered” yet by the people who vote in these things. Show how good you are through your writing. Ultimately, that’s where it counts.
As for tagging myself a “prize winning writer”? I don’t think I’ll bother. Doesn’t mean I won’t mention it somewhere in my profile or in interviews though 🙂