Tuesday, May 02, 2006

To Contest, or Not to Contest

I had planned on entering D&B into a couple of contests this year to see how it fared and to get some feedback from judges. I narrowed down my choices to ones who had final judges that were editors I wanted to get my work in front of. Picked two from that list where I thought I could best showcase my work and was about to prepare my submissions when I stopped.

Something didn't quite feel right. Not with my submission, but with entering. Part of it was the money. The cost of exchange, shipping to the US, photocopies, etc, can really add up and things are pretty tight right now. But there was something else nagging at me. Did I really want to spend my time preparing my first three chapters? Or did I want to get on with the business of writing the rest of the book?

So, after much deep thought, I ultimately decided to concentrate my efforts this year on finishing D&B and revising The Outlaw Bride. If D&B is ready in November I will consider The Golden Heart again, but I think this year I should be focusing on getting things done, on finding an agent and editor and not on entering contests. Don't get me wrong, I think contests are great. They can be used as a measuring stick and provide valuable feedback on where you are going wrong and what you are doing right. I've had great experiences with the contests I have entered. But this year, I think my time would be better spent elsewhere.

And my bank account has breathed a sigh of relief.

11 comments:

Peggy said...

I'm not a big fan of contests. The feedback you get is too subjective in my opinion to be helpful. As for getting it in front of an editor, why risk having one or two judges not like your work and having you miss out in the opportunity of getting it in front of the editor? I'd say go the agent/editor route on your own. Isn't Ms. Snarks the one quoted as saying send out 100 proposals, and if you don't get a bite, you know something is wrong with the writing. I would rather have my fate placed in the hands of professionals than unpublished writers (ouch---that sounded harsh, sorry. But that's the sad truth. Most contests aren't even judged by published authors who would actually have a better grasp at what is publishable or not). But I know a lot of people love contests and feel they've improved their writing. I guess it depends where you are in your writing.

Kelly said...

I don't know that I would say it has improved my writing, but it's definitely let me know how others were responding to what I wrote. I don't mind having unpub'ds as judges. I'm unpublished but as a writer and an avid reader I consider myself a good and fair judge. I've been critiquing for several years so I know to give specific feedback though if I have a problem with something, and I've found most of my feedback from judges in contests has been pretty specific. I haven't had any negative experiences with contests. And if I had the money and time I would probably do a couple this year. I usually limit myself to two contests per manuscript though. I don't want to become a contest whore with 3 well written chapters and nothing after that to show for it.

Moe said...

Hi,

Just got noticed your comment on the the HRM knitting blog...yup we are out there.

We meet every Tues night at Uncommon Grounds on South Park St, around 7:30 till close...

You write historical romances? Interesting!

Maxx said...

I think you made a wise decision. I think contests are good for newbies (like me) to build confidence and get some feedback, but comes a time when you need to move on and throw your line into a bigger pond. And specifically where you've already done so well with the contests you did enter, it's time to take the show on the road.

Kelly said...

Did somebody say - Road trip?!

Melissa Marsh said...

I agree that contests are useful to get good feedback, but like Peggy said, I also feel that it is very subjective. But this whole industry is subjective. What one editor loves, another hates.

I don't enter contests mainly because I can't afford it. And I guess I would rather focus more on the entire book than just the first three pages.

Jaichan said...

I saw your comment on HRM KOL, too. Come out and knit with us! You have one of my dream jobs.
I'm currently pursuing one of my other dream jobs; I'm studying to become a chef.

Kelly said...

Wow and I love to eat! What a coinicidence. Unfortunately writing isn't my full time gig yet. But some day...some day...

Peggy said...

Hey, so that's what you look like! Nice picture!

I agree that unpublished writer's are readers first and recognize good work when they see it or not. But seeing where you pay for a contest critique, then I guess I want my money's worth. Cheapo---yes I know!

Rene said...

I am always tempted to enter contests, but it is such a crapshoot to get in front of an editor judge. The president of my chapter said I should be focusing on submitting to editors and agents instead. It's hard to resist, but I think the money issue helps in dissuading me.

Michelle said...

You know, I hesitated on one, too. I have the forms filled out, the check made out, but I haven't sent it. Something doesn't quite feel right. :/ Maybe it's the fact that my GH scores were so skewed, I wonder if I'm just not meant for contests.