Thursday, May 04, 2006

Contest success!

This week two of my manuscripts, THE BETTER BRIDE, a medieval, and my contemporary, MY LIFE AS A STAR, finaled in contests!

In the romance writing world, both published and unpublished authors can enter various contests. Most are offered by individual RWA chapters, others are sponsored by publishers or authors.

Here's a brief overview of reasons for entering: To get: 1) feedback from first round judges 2) if your entry makes it to the final round, recognition in online groups, the national romance writer magazine, and from editors and agents who judge the final round. These editors and agents can, and do, ask to see more material from finalists. 3) gain credentials for query letters and pitches. So far, four of my manuscripts have finaled in a total of 16 contests. 4) validation that someone, somewhere, likes your work.

Reasons not to enter: 1) Money. Most contests have entry fees ranging from $10 to $30. Though there are some e-contests, many require several copies of the entry and also return postage. 2) Contests often have different requirements...various page limits or requiring a one page or two page synopsis. If you don't already have what that contest wants, you can spend a lot of time reworking your manuscipt...time away from writing new pages. 3) Luck of the draw. Sometimes, one judge will give my entry a perfect score, say a 60, while the other gives it a 37. The night before I found out FOLLOW YOUR HEART finaled in American Title II, where editors from Dorchester selected the finalists, the same material recieved horrible scores from a chapter contest. So you never know. 4) Feedback. On occasion, I'll enter a work in progress just to get reactions. Judges may give low scores without backing them up with reasons, or conversely high scores without sharing what resonated with them.

Next post: choosing which contests and which manuscripts to enter.

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