Sunday, September 7, 2008

Contests II

As you read this entry and look at the titles of my previous posts (please do!), you may ask, Where is Contests I?

Contests I is cleverly disguised as And How Did You Become an Author?, the story of how my losing contest entry, Lady of the Stars, got e-published.

I’ve entered other contests, and I haven't won. Close sometimes, but close is like the Olympic athlete who comes in fourth—not good enough, even if the spread is only a few points. I’ve received some very high scores, but not high enough.

Sure, I'd like to win a contest. Winning would feel very good. Having an agent or publisher read my partial would be even better.

What’s going on? Is my stuff junk, or does it not fit the scoring?

I've heard various comments about contests. Here’s author Elizabeth Boyle’s take on contests on Romantic Inks. Hint: She isn’t too crazy about them.

Some say winning means you can write what a contest wants. A contest looks at the story elements. You may have a great story, but it may not be saleable, or saleable to New York. As an example, I know a write who finaled in the Royal Ascot, the contest held by the Beau Monde section of the RWA. Her agent couldn't sell her book to New York because the publishers didn't want a blind heroine. Her book, Blind Fortune by Joanna Waugh, was e-published in July by Cerridwen Press.

Others swear by contests, and yes, some contest winners do get published. Most of the Golden Heart winners do. But then, the Golden Heart is a well-known and respected contest. There are tons of other contests out there, and how do you tell?

Try seeing who the final judges will be. If there's one who you want to see your work, try.

Contests are also good for getting a critique. Again, you have to be careful. I've received some great critiques. And I've received at least one terrible one that was essentially fill-in-the-numbers on the score sheet. A waste of money, that contest was.

But I wouldn't go overboard. I know one writer who boasted she'd just finaled on a particular manuscript for the eighth time. Eighth time? At about $25 a pop, contests aren't cheap. If I had finaled even once, I would have sent the manuscript out to an agent or editor.

Because, after all, writing is not about winning contests, it's about getting published. Winning a contest can feel very good, but it's not a book contract.

Thank you all,



Kaye Manro said...

Hi Linda,

I certainly do agree with you on most contests. The Golden Heart being one of the exceptions. Also, another one if you are a Sci-Fi writer, Writers of the Future contest is really a good one. And it's free to enter.(I'm getting ready to do a post on that one soon) But in general, It might be a waste of money. Just submit to publishers instead, because winning doesn't mean publishing in most cases. You, however, did get contracted because of the contest! But not by winning it. That's great.

Linda Banche said...

Thanks, Kaye.

And I'm looking forward to your entry about the Writers of the Future contest.

Helen Hardt said...

Hi Linda, I've got you down for Monday, January 12 on my blog. Thanks! I'll send questions to you a few weeks before. And I'd love to do your blog!

I'm always interested in posts on contests. I entered my first contest last year, and bombed. Seriously. I got my humility handed to me on a silver platter. Yes, it stung. But I took the time to self-educate in the necessary areas. The second contest I entered I did well, but didn't final. The third? I finaled with all three of my entries. It's currently pending and results will be out in October.

So for me, contests were a very useful tool. I found out what I was doing right, and what I was doing wrong, and I fixed it. But I've only entered three. It's easy to go overboard (and broke!) entering contests. Personally, I see them as a learning tool rather than a road to publication.

Great post!


Linda Banche said...

Thanks, Helen.

Send me a post any time you want.

And I hope you win that contest.