Monday, July 31, 2017

Writing Contests

We are on the verge of another year of Pitch Wars and excitement is building! Along with hundreds of others, I've been frantically editing my manuscript so I can enter. I've wanted to write this post for over a month but thought I'd better get my revisions done, first.

Last year I was fortunate to have been chosen for two contests, one was Pitch Wars. I've entered many others and was never chosen. Though I'm far from an expert, I wanted to share some of what I've learned though my experiences and what I've learned from others.

Writing contests are intimidating and stressful. We all want our work to be loved and accepted, but that's not reality. It's important to put your work out there for others to see. Yes, you will likely be judged by some, but most will give you some thoughtful feedback that you can use to grow. If you join in, you will meet many wonderful people along the way who will accompany you on  your journey. This is the real benefit to entering the contests.

Contests are just as subjective as querying to agents or publishers. No one likes every book they read. Mentors in writing contests are the same. They are looking for one they love and know how to help. Sometimes I critique things and know something is off but can't put my finger on it. If a mentor thinks that, then there's no sense picking that manuscript. Another mentor may be able to see exactly what said manuscript needs. So not only are mentors looking for something they love, they are looking for something they can truly help.

Writing contests are not the end all and be all. Some people think that getting into a writing contest is the only way to get an agent or publisher. No. There are people who didn't get chosen for any writing contests that went on to write best sellers. There are also many people who get into contests but don't get an agent from them. Some go on to find an agent or publisher for their Pitch Wars manuscript through querying, while others write a new manuscript and find an agent or publisher for that. People get picked out of the slush pile every day. Everyone's path to publishing is different. Writing contests are only one path.

Don't self reject. Enter. What do you have to lose? The worst that happens is that you meet some people and you don't get picked. You're no worse off. Yes, not getting picked stings. Rejection always does. You allow yourself sometime to mope, then pick yourself back up. This business seems to be lined with rejection. It's part of the process, a painful but necessary one. On the flip side...what if a mentor loves your manuscript and wants to work with you? It's worth the chance of a no.

Be ready to work. If you do get in, be ready to revise your ass off. Some people in my Pitch Wars class rewrote their entire MS in the two months. It can be intense. But you have a great group of people to support you.

So why enter a writing contest?

Networking. Meet people, make friends (or critique partners). Learn what you can from anyone along the way. Even if you're not picked for the contest, this is the big win.

If you get in, you have a chance to make your manuscript better. This is an opportunity to get another set of eyes on your work and elevate it to the next level. You'll probably learn a lot during this process to better your future work.

The agent round is a bonus.

Those seem to be the main topics I see relating to writing contests. If you had any other questions, hit me up!

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