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The other contest was the 2012 Writers-Editors Network International Writing Competition for first chapters of unpublished works.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.