Tuesday, December 11, 2007

On Contests

Jessica Faust wrote about an agent's view of contest wins on the Bookends blog. There were a lot of informative comments.

Kris Fletcher wrote in the comment's section about why an author might want to do contests. Here's an excerpt of Kris' post:

These were some of the top reasons I found for entering:

1. To get your work in front of a particular agent or editor, especially if that person would be hard to reach otherwise - for example, an editor from a house that does not accept unagented work.

2. To get impartial feedback on a story. Useful both for those without critique groups & those who do have a group, but are afraid they might be too nice (or otherwise) to tell the truth.

3. for the prize. Some contests offer free registration to their conference....

4. For the prestige. There are some contests, such as the Golden Heart, the Maggie, and the Emily (I know only romance), which carry a lot more oomph than others. Those ones can be VERY helpful to mention in a query letter.

5. And sometimes, contests can be the only bit of positive reinforcement you receive. If you're receiving nothing but "I like this, but ..." rejections...well, at times like that, it can be very encouraging to know that a bunch of strangers think your work is totally wonderful.

Kate Douglas wrote:

As a published author, I view contests differently--I enter the RITA, for instance, to get my books in front of judges who might otherwise not be willing to read my edgy, erotic romance. There are a couple of other contests judged by booksellers and librarians--again, I am hoping to expose my writing to new readers in a position to help me further my career. I currently have two of my titles entered in the Lambda Literary Awards contest--in this case, it's to reach a new community of readers. It's not about the win, so much as the exposure.

Angie Fox wrote:

Another thing that was valuable (at least to me), I picked contests where I could attend the awards. For example, the Daphnes are at the RWA nationals every year, so since I was going to be there, I entered. ....there is a high chance the agent/editor judges will also be at the awards. And that’s what happened. As a Daphne finalist, I was not only able to sit next to the agent who judged my category, but when the award packet contained a request for a full, she was right there for me to mention an editor had also requested a full (from a contest the week before). And, in a stroke of blind luck, that editor who made the request also happened to be at the awards.

Christie Craig wrote:

I sold my first book in '94 via a contest. I got my agent...in an indirect way via a contest, and my last sells were also indirectly set off due to some contests.

I'll just back up what everyone else has said by saying... Entering contests is a game. You have to know the rules to make sure you get the most out of it.

I (currently) only know of one valid unpublished writers contest for my genre, but I had no idea that contests could be so valuable if done correctly. Agents so regularly say that contests don't matter much that I hadn't given a second thought about taking the time to enter. Now that I've gotten the other side of the story, I'm more inclined to check some contests out.

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