I used to think contests were a waste of money. Who wants to fork over $30, $40 or $50 just to get a critique of their first chapter or so, especially if you have awesome critique partners? After entering my first contests this year, I’ve changed my mind. For those of you on the fence about contests, here are some reasons they might be beneficial for you:
- It gives you an opportunity to get your first chapters cleaned up and ready to submit.
- You get feedback from a new set of eyes. And often that feedback is limited to the most important chapters—the beginning. You get to see exactly what’s working in those, without relying on your other chapters to back them up.
- You often get numerical feedback, which most critique partners probably don’t do. And if you are like me, numbers—no matter how annoying they are sometimes—help you make sense of your strengths and weaknesses. It helps paint a picture of what you really need to devote your time to improving, and approximately how far you need to improve those weaknesses.
- You might even final—and let me tell you instant gratification in the glacially-moving writing world can do wonders for your confidence, motivation, and psyche. Everyone needs a pat on the back once in awhile.
Yes contests are still subjective, as are everything with writing. On the last contest I entered, two of the judges loved my writing and one scored me significantly lower. But the results still helped me get an understanding of what was working for the majority of people and what I could improve to appeal to even more agents, editors, and eventually readers.
If you are interested, here are a few resources I use for finding good contests to enter:
- Writing Contests by Stephie Smith
- Romance Contests Yahoo Group (need to join free group to view—but you can receive emails then, which is super helpful)
- Verla Kay’s Contest Section on the Blue Boards
- Romance Writer’s of America. RWA has a few national contests, and most RWA chapters have contests. They are included in the above listings, or you could search chapter by chapter.
Please feel free to include additional resources you use for contests in the comments!!!
--Emily, Miss Querylicious