Use Art Contests to Promote Your Writing

I’m a member of Deviant Arts — DA for short.  Despite the suggestive name, DA is a very large social network bringing together producers and, to some extent, consumers of art.  ‘Art’ in DA covers  a large canvas, so to speak — paintings, digital art, drawings, photography, animation, literature, poetry, and more.

DA offers three things to aspiring authors:

  1. Critique groups for writing
  2. The ability to connect with potential fans and readers (the same as almost any other social media platform)
  3. Access to a large pool of artists should you wish to have your character(s) or scenes from your story depicted.

Like any social media platform, DA requires time and effort to fully develop and authors will need to decide if the effort is warranted.  I will do a more detailed post of DA for authors in the future.  For now, I would like to touch on the use of Contests in DA.

I use contests with cash prizes in order to have different artists depict Lady Merreth and various scenes from ‘Western Watch’.    The prizes are not large; approximate $80 to $100 for first place and lesser amounts for 2nd and 3rd.  Ok, I don’t think they are large, but your mileage may vary. What a lot of people do is have prize amounts tied to the number of contest entrants, the more entries the more prizes and the larger the prize amount.

You can either let the entrants depict your character as they choose, or provide specific guidelines.  I tend to do the latter.  Here is a link to the guidelines (and prize structure) for my first contest, and here is the second.

There are a number of issues you need to consider when running a contest, such as contest promotion, copyright concerns, judging, prize payout, etc, and I will cover all of these in future posts.

Contests are attractive for a number of reasons:

  1. They promote your writing to community already pre-disposed to it
  2. They offer a relatively cheap way of having you character depicted.
  3. They provide images that you can use in blog postings and other social media platforms (posts with images tend to have greater ‘reach’ that pure text posts, all other things being equal
  4. They offer the chance to connect with additional ‘pools’ of like minded individuals who may be interested it purchase your book or in helping to promote it

Of course, there are disadvantages as well:

  1. There is time, effort, and money (though not great amounts of money) involved in building a presence and running contests on DA
  2.  You cannot control the quality of contest entries; some of them will be good, often very good, others will not be
  3. If you wish to use the art entered in your contests for commercial purposes, you will likely need to negotiate with the artist.

Still, I find DA a good investment of my time from a promotional and author-platform building perspective.  You may too.

So, here are the contest winners from my first contest, held last year:


Artist link

Puppy Dog Tails

First Prize — Puppy Dog Tails


Second Prize — Puppy Dog Tails


Third Prize -- Best Served Cold

Third Prize — Best Served Cold


Next week I will post the contest winners from my most recent contest.


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