Tuesday, October 07, 2008

When contests really work....

I have mixed feelings about writing contests. I think they can be worth it if you get good feedback, but I also fear they reward the conventional and might discourage writers who haven't been in the business of writing long enough to understand that a contest judge can be wrong. I never entered any before I sold, preferring to send my work directly to folks who might, you know, buy it.

Which brings me to a contest that, if you were aiming to write for Harlequin Presents, would be worth entering, because hey! They're buying the winner's book.

And apparently, I just cannot not blog. However, the first scene of THE VISCOUNT'S KISS is now in pretty good shape. Whoo hoo!


Crystal-Rain Love said...

Contests are crazy. I took second place in the very first contest I entered, which boosted my confidence, but the editor didn't request my manuscript, which lowered my confidence. Then I failed to final in any other regular writing contest I entered. The published judges would sing my praises while the unpublished would rip me apart. I always thought that was strange. How can you get two perfect scores and then one judge act like you had no business writing and totally destroy your score average? Then I entered Sapphire Blue Publishing's contest which the winners were... published! And it was FREE! I entered the same manuscript into another of those $ costing contests along with a paranormal I'd submitted directly to a print publisher. Guess what. Both those manuscripts got the same treatment in the paid contest, earning me my lowest contest ranking ever, but, um... The Fire Still Burns was published by Sapphire Blue Publishing a few months after getting those contest results and the paranormal was picked up by the print publisher (along with the rest of the books in the series) and should be out next year. I really caution people about these contests. The free ones that actually promise to publish a winning manuscript are definitely the way to go. Other contests are expensive (they add up) and with scores as scattered as I've gotten, I don't know how reliable they can be. If you DO enter those contests, take the feedback with a grain of salt. There have been many writers who have racked up contest wins like nobody's business but either (a) took forever to get published, or (b) are still unpublished.

Margaret Moore said...

Congratulations on your success! Sorry to hear about the frustrations.

I think it also pays to pay attention to who's judging. Will you get at least published author to judge? And what kind of scoresheet/feedback is included? Who's judging the final round? An editor? What's the prize?

Also, if you're unpublished, sometimes just having that kind of deadline is helpful.

So sometimes contests can be good, but clearly, sometimes the experience can be upsetting. I guess it's like a lot of things -- you have to be careful.

Kimber Chin said...

I love using contests
to test story ideas.
It likely tortures the poor judges
(because I enter first drafts)
but wow, does it help me.