On a whim, with COVID time on my hands, and after doing some research and finding mixed opinions, I paid my $75 and entered a novel in the (Contest). I was surprised (and pleased, I guess) to be named a finalist.The question is, does it mean anything? Judging is anonymous. Is placing in the contest worth mentioning in queries etc.?
The first question you want to ask about any contest is how much does it cost to enter.
You've told us $75.
That means the contest is intended to make money for someone NOT find the best book in any category.
If the goal is to find the best book in any category, you want to choose from the widest pool not the one determined by who's got an extra $75 lying around. And an entry fee like that precludes most publishers from entering their best books. The cost for them would be a big factor.
The second question you want to ask is who won the year before.
Do you recognize ANY of the finalists or the winner?
If you win a contest and no one notices, does it help you?
As for including this info in a query, don't.
It doesn't help and it could hurt.
It's not a deal breaker by any means, BUT including it as though it was something to indicate your book is good, well, that just demonstrates lack of knowledge about how contests work.
It's ok not to know things of course, but you don't want to flaunt that lack of knowledge as a big plus.
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