|This cactus just has a|
je ne sais quoi, no?
I won an award at the Miami International Boat Show this month, a writing award from my peers at Boating Writers International, for a story I wrote for Cruising World. I’m pleased for the recognition, but judges are human and subjective and many of the other entrants deserve the same recognition.
I’m writing because as the managing editor of Good Old Boat magazine, and as a reader of and contributor to several other boating magazines, I’m in the thick of the marine journalism world and I’m surprised every year when this contest rolls around to see that there are relatively few entries.
The Boating Writers International (BWI) annual writing contest features 17 categories and awards $17,000 in prize money, plus plaques and certificates. What aspiring writer in this genre couldn’t use a little extra cash and recognition? Yet, of the thousands (and thousands) of stories that were published in English-language boating magazines and newspapers and trade journals around the world last year, and that would have fit neatly into one of the 17 categories, only a tiny percentage were entered. In its 24th year, the BWI contest attracted only 151 writers and photographers who together submitted only 378 entries.
Now, you have to be a BWI member to enter, and annual dues are $50, but members are entitled to two free contest submissions, plus other membership benefits, such as a press card that can be used to get into boat shows for free, a monthly journal, access to a job board, and more.
I will boast that Good Old Boat magazine had a pretty good showing in the contest this year. We encouraged our writers to enter and in the Seamanship, Rescue, and Safety category, “The Storm Trysail” (Good Old Boat, January 2016) earned the top prize for Ed Zacko, one of our contributing editors. In the Gear, Electronics, & Product Tests category, writer Drew Frye won first place for “Splash Test Dummy” (Good Old Boat, September 2016). Finally, under the Boat Projects, Renovations & Retrofits category, writer Connie McBride earned a Merit Award for her story, “Filling in the Blanks” (Good Old Boat, November 2016).
The biggest number of winning entrants went to writers of stories published in Cruising World, and stories in the following pubs were also recognized:
Anglers Journal, Boating, Boats.com, BoatUS Magazine, Chesapeake Bay, Compass, International Boat Industry Magazine, Multihull Sailor, PassageMaker, Practical Sailor, Professional Boatbuilder, Sailing World, Sea, Sea Magazine, Soundings, Texas Fish & Game, SAIL, Showboats International, Small Craft Advisor, Sport Fishing, Yachts International, Yachting, Yachting Monthly, Yachtworld.com.
There are at least 50 other boating pubs out there, nearly all of which weren’t represented. That’s likely a failure on the part of the editors at those pubs for not pushing their writers to enter. That’s a failure on the part of BWI members like me for not getting the word out.
And writers—and boaters who want to be writers! —there is a huge market out there for your work. In my book, Selling Your Writing to the Boating Magazines, I list most of the magazines in this market (with helpful contact info). Each magazine has at least one editor watching their email, waiting for writers to send them content they can buy. Why isn’t that you?
Get writing, get selling your writing, and next year you could be submitting your published story to the BWI Writing Contest.
Trust me, you can do it. Selling your writing is not magic, it’s just work.
|Eleanor, Frances, Otis, and Oliver on a hike.|
|Frances and her visiting cousin, Oliver.|