ENTERING CONTESTS

 In the last six months I’ve entered three (3) contests. In each case it was a spur-of-the-moment decision. In one case I received a letter in the mail, let it sit around for a bit, and finally decided “Why not?” In the other two cases, emails I received prompted me to take the plunge.

In the last 7 days I’ve received the results (in one way or another) for two of those contests.
I’d entered AS THE CROW FLIES in the Daphne, and since I did not receive a call and was not listed as a finalist, I know the book didn’t make it in that contest. I wasn’t really surprised. AS THE CROW FLIES has received mixed reviews, with some readers loving the book and others giving it a thumbs down. Of course, I think any time a writer enters a contest, there is that hope of winning, so I’ll admit, I was disappointed it wasn’t a finalist.

The other contest was the 2012 Writers-Editors Network International Writing Competition for first chapters of unpublished works. I entered the first chapter of my most recent work in progress, which at the time I entered I was calling Pandora’s Box. (New working title is A Killer Past). Yesterday I received notice that Pandora’s Box had received 2nd Honorable Mention.

Again, I would have preferred 1st place (or even 2nd or 3rd since those three places receive money); nevertheless, I’m pleased to have placed at all. I have no idea how many entries were judged, but I know their awards went down to 10th Honorable Mention, and I’m assuming there were more than thirteen entries in that category.

Even nicer than the nice parchment paper award with a gold seal and the Writers-Editors Network Executive Director’s signature was the judge’s comment posted on the www.writers-editors.com web site.

2nd HM – Maris Soule, South Haven, Mich. – “Pandora’s Box,” Chapter One – Good lead and flow. Dialogue good, realistic and appropriate. Reader can relate to Mary Harrington. Conflict good, comprehensible and surprising. Sets the stage for a potentially riveting novel.

Yep, I’ll take a review like that any time.

I’m not sure how much value there is in entering contests, other than a way to inflate or
deflate one’s ego, but I will say entering a WIP forces me to look carefully at what I’m submitting, and entering a published book introduces my work to at least three new (I’m assuming) readers.

For new writers, I think entering contests can have two values. (1) It may get your work in front of an agent or editor, and if it’s a contest with written comments, it may give you an idea of areas that need work or areas that are working quite well. Also, (2) entering contests can emotionally prepare you for the ups and downs of this business. Whereas one judge might love your work, another might pan it. That’s exactly what happens with agents, editors, and reviewers.

I don’t know if I’ll enter any more contests this year. Since these three were spur-of-the-moment decisions, who knows. I do know entering contests can be self-defeating. Some
writers hone those initial chapters to perfection and forget it’s the whole book that’s important. And sometime conflicting comments can be so confusing a writer (especially a new writer) will simply give up. For me, it’s been fun, but not my goal. What I need to do is get to work on my next book.

Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to ENTERING CONTESTS

  1. Donnell says:

    Hi, Maris: Thought I would explain why I enter contests first as an unpublished writer and now a published author. As an unpublished author, I began entering contests to make sure I was on the right track, that my work would gravitate toward readers. Later after I finaled or won, I entered to attract the attention of an editor or agent. Now as a published author, and inept at social media, I use contests as a way of getting my name out. I use contest simply as one more business tool. Like your review, it’s nice to final, great to win, but in a world where the market is saturated and the competition is fierce, I think contests can and do serve a purpose.

    • MarisMaris says:

      Donnell, I totally agree with you. I know when I’ve judged contests, if I read a published book I really like, even if it doesn’t final in the contest, I look for and buy more books by that author. I’ll also tell others about the author, so it is one more advertising tool.

  2. vicki batman says:

    Contests–very conflicting. Especially the Golden Heart. I’m not entering much lately.

    Congratulations on your HM! Feel proud!

  3. Misty Dietz says:

    I haven’t entered contests in a while either. Your review is fantastic. You should print that out and put it up for the hard days. 🙂

    • MarisMaris says:

      Misty, that’s a great idea because as we all know, those hard days do come along.

      • Ethem says:

        Donnell, I totally agree with you. I know when I’ve judegd contests, if I read a published book I really like, even if it doesn’t final in the contest, I look for and buy more books by that author. I’ll also tell others about the author, so it is one more advertising tool.

    • Arman says:

      Contests (like reviews) are a crap shoot. As you wrote, you can get rave cemnomts and pans for the same work. It is so subjective. Yet, there are the benefits you mention. Hopefully, a couple of the judges (of the WIP) will want to read your pubbed books. Good luck with that new project.

  4. Diane Burton says:

    Contests (like reviews) are a crap shoot. As you wrote, you can get rave comments and pans for the same work. It is so subjective. Yet, there are the benefits you mention. Hopefully, a couple of the judges (of the WIP) will want to read your pubbed books. Good luck with that new project.

  5. Joan says:

    Good reasons for entering contests, both in the posting and from the comments above. I ‘studied’ how to write for about a decade before I entered my first contest–partly from nerves, and partly because I knew I wasn’t ready. When I did, I started local, and garnered some good wins to keep me taking another step forward. I didn’t enter any BIG contests until I was published, and that worked for me. I could have used the judges’ comments to get better faster, but I could have gotten my ego flattened so much it never recovered, too, and I just didn’t feel it was worth the risk. Now, however, as a longtime full-time freelance writer, my ego is a thing of the past (sigh…) and I edit other people’s work for part of my living. For both of those reasons, I now only use contests to test-drive new projects, when I’ve only completed a handful of chapters and the synopsis, so someone else can give me an impartial opinion before I have it too far along to change, or so I get fresh insight from people not as close to it as I am. If I win, too, that’s just icing–and I love cake!

  6. Alice Abel Kemp says:

    I’ve had the same experience with contests (am unpublished so far). Some love it and others don’t. The worst is the ones with no feedback. They turn out to be a waste of time and money. At some point, I quit that and focus on finishing the best work I can. There is such a thing as too much input.
    Good post and congrats on your HM.