Wednesday, March 23, 2011
MAKING CONTESTS WORK FOR YOU: ONE ASPIRING WRITER’S PERSPECTIVE
As an aspiring writer, I admit I have caught contest fever from time to time, and was always disappointed when my work did not final. I would stop entering and focus on submitting. After a year of this back and forth, I started to see the similarities between the judges’ comments and my rejection letters. Both pointed out similar flaws or problem areas.
This fall, after four months of spending every waking (and some not so awake moments) caring for my newborn son, I decided to enter a handful of contests to motivate me to keep writing. I needed something to me get back in writing mode and the deadlines helped.
But this time, I tried something different. I submitted one polished work and one first draft. And I also changed what I looked for in a contest. Instead of focusing on the final round judges, I looked for contests that featured trained first round judges (for the best feedback) and a reduced entry fee for subsequent submissions to avoid breaking the bank with contest fees.
Overall, I think my strategy worked. The polished manuscript chapters won one contest and I received a request for a full. In another, the same chapters did not even make the final rounds. But both offered great insights into how I could improve my writing. This was especially true for the first draft chapters.
I decided to enter the beginning of my first contemporary to see if I was on the right track. After all what could be better than a group of strangers sending me their honest opinions? Much to my surprise, I received an honorable mention and a request for a full from the final round judge. Going forward, I plan to submit all my working drafts to contests. The deadlines coupled with the stellar feedback have pushed me to write even on the days when I’ve been up all night with my teething baby.
In fact, I am so grateful for my contest experiences that I decided to return the favor by coordinating the 2011 Royal Ascot.
For more information, please visit: http://www.thebeaumonde.com/royalascot/.
And if you have a contest story to share, please leave a comment!♥
Sarah Tormey was a Mass Merchandise Sales Representative at Random House. Her job was to sell romances to chain stores like Target, Stop & Shop and Wal-Mart. Sarah is now pursuing her dream of writing romance novels. To read excerpts of her work and her blog, visit http://www.sarahtormey.com/.