Alas, my writer friend S. and I, who both entered and both won (he got THREE stories in!) were sitting in the annual meeting of the League of Vermont Writers when the breaking news came in, listening to an author presentation. No champagne, but we did get a public announcement by LVW's president out of it.
Winning means our stories will be included in their 2015 anthology - and it will instantly turn us into "published authors."
For most of those writers who are obsessed with their craft, becoming a published author is the end-all and be-all. And while it's relatively hard to find an agent who will take a chance on your newbie novel, it's not all that hard to get your short story accepted and published - either through a contest or a literary magazine.
There are many new small and micro publishers out there looking for submissions, and many magazines that not only accept but openly welcome contributions from first-time authors. And it's a great way to get your first credentials.
It's also a good start for your manifestation exercise. More about that in another post.