To Contest Or Not To Contest

8 Aug

I live in that mushy writer’s world In Between.


I’m no longer such a newbie that I feel my writing is unshowable, but I know I still have some work to do to make that (hopefully) final jump to publication.


There seem to be two ways to start making the next jump: A really great mentor (briaquinlan AT aol if you’re interested in filling that role 😉 ) OR contest feedback.


So, contest feedback it is.


Yes, I’ve heard the downside. I’ve heard how people with chips on their shoulders rip into your work, finding flaws that aren’t there, being rules Nazi for rules they don’t understand…sending you a 3page single spaced rewrite of your entire plot b/c you “got it wrong” and then giving you all zeros (I know 2 people THAT happened to…come on) – But the truth is, there are several benefits to contests.


  1. Outside opinions
    • I’ve had several people who know me say they can hear my voice as they read the ms. So, that’s…um… not so great. If my ms is standing on the power of KNOWING me, I need to know that. This one, I don’t think it is. I think that the Rom Com voices are just closer to my own than my Fantasy voice. But let’s check that out, shall we?
  2. Judges
    • Let’s be honest, I’m not entering a contest for a final judge I don’t want to get in front of. There’s a contest a friend has been pushing me to enter, but the final YA judge is someone that I feel wouldn’t be a good match for me as The Agent. Obviously I’m not throwing down the cash for that.
  3. Props
    • What can we add to query letters if we don’t have publishing credits yet? How about a very reputable contest win? Yeah. That would be swell.


So, then comes the budget. Unemployed writer looking to get stuff in front of editors… Cost? Priceless… or not. Budget has to play a large part in what you can do.

Another reason I’m skipping two contests is because the final judges are agents who have both asked to see whatever I have next. Why pay the money hoping to get in front of agents who have already said to send it to them… I mentioned the budget, right?


And so, I’ve narrowed it down to 12. A little more research and I’ll be ready to go. Hopefully something good will come from taking this leap.


I’d love to hear your contest experiences. Let me know the good, the bad, the ugly and the “why the heck did I bother”s.

2 Responses to “To Contest Or Not To Contest”

  1. Jamie August 11, 2009 at 4:46 am #

    I would love to hear more about the contests you’re looking at for YA. I don’t think I even know of any!

  2. Carolyn Rosewood September 30, 2010 at 12:09 pm #

    I’m waiting for contest feedback on my own work, and this is the first time I’ve entered any. I’m also judging for our local RWA chapter’s contest, and it’s been a wonderful experience. I’m hoping for consistent feedback on my own work, and that’s what I’ve tried to give the entries I judged. We’re in this to support each other, not to tear each other down. If a person can’t do that, they shouldn’t be judging, IMHO. That being said, it’s always difficult to read opinions on your work. Take what is useful and leave the rest. Each person approaches it differently, just as we each could read the same book and take something different from it.

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