Wednesday, November 17, 2010
SOME THOUGHTS ON WRITING CONTESTS
by Elizabeth Palladino
First, I entered the Romance Novelists’ Association’s New Writers’ Scheme. This British contest calls for a full, hardcopy manuscript. While I did not achieve even a second reading, the four pages of single-spaced critique I received were invaluable. My novel had been read by a published, anonymous romance author in England. Her comments were pointed, professional, and pertinent.
I browsed through RWR, and found two American contests, one asking for the first fifteen pages of a romance novel, the other asking for the first twenty-five. I literally just pasted some pages into new documents around two o’clock in the morning while in a state of near-catatonia, and pushed “send”.
One earned me nothing but some tepidly pleasant comments from first-round judges. Frankly, I discounted some of the remarks as total nonsense from folks who couldn’t review their way out of Volkswagen on a sunny day. Other comments were more useful.
Then I told both the editor and the agent that I was revising the manuscript one more time, as the RNA reader’s report felt that it would be publishable with some polishing. Both indicated they would like to see it after those revisions were done. I’m working on that now, with the book also entered in Golden Heart, my fifth contest this year.
Take it from Aunt Lizzie’s Agonized Advice Column: Be professional at all times, and do not get complacent and easy-breezy about anything. That is when you will make a mistake for sure. Trust me on this.
Are contests valuable? I think they’re useful if you can get your work in front of the final-round judges. You may get a shortcut to “the call” and publication, in the same way that a conference’s editor/agent appointments can help you avoid the query, submit, and slush pile routine.
In reaching and exceeding my 2010 goal to enter a contest, I’ve pushed myself closer to my next goal—publication of a romance novel!♥