Wednesday, April 11, 2012
Wednesday Writing- Everyone's a Weiner
I've recently discovered writing contests. I know, not a revolutionary idea, but as a new RWA member, they're new to me, and I've started wanting to encourage every writer I know to enter contests as well.
Not just because winning one would be cool, and it definitely would (hope hope hope), but because of all the side benefits I've found.
First, there's the light-a-fire-under-your-heinie aspect. If you've been dragging your feet on completing the dreaded synopis and all its many incarnations (1 page, 3 page, 5 page), or your query letter, or even getting that first chapter or two polished, contests give you a deadline to push for. I'm at the point of being ready to query with my YA Contemporary Fantasy novel, but I knew I really needed to revise my synopsis and then hone it down into shorter form in case the-perfect-agent-for-my-book wanted a one or two page synopsis instead of a longer version. The query process can be long and doesn't really offer any deadline pressure-- no agent is sitting there with a stopwatch waiting for your query to arrive in her inbox. Seeing a great contest with a looming deadline got me off the couch--or no -- actually chained me to the couch with my laptop until I got it done and sent it in.
Then there are the judges. If you're like me, when you see who's judging these great local RWA chapter contests, you'll be scrambling to put your entry together. I've been reading agent and author blogs for the past couple of years now, and I recognized big deal agent and publisher names in nearly every one of the contests. That means the people who are in a position to help you get your book published will have your pages in their hands, no slush pile wading required.
At the very least, most of the contests I've seen give the entrants detailed feedback or critiques on their writing, whether they place or not. Brilliant! And if you do place-- place-- not even win, it's something you can put in that author bio section to show that at least someone out there thinks your writing doesn't stink and that you are a serious author ready for the business of publishing.
But wait-- there's more! Money! Some, not all, offer cash prizes to the top finalists, which is nice, because the contests aren't free to enter. The entry fees, which I've seen ranging from $15 to about $35 dollars, go to fund the great programs local RWA chapters offer their members.
Not all the contests are for Romance writing, some are for published writers, many for unpublished-as-of-yet souls such as myself. I know there are many methods of finding out about writing contests, and I certainly haven't discovered all of them, but here's a great link to some:
Writing Contest Chart
So be brave, good luck, and wish me some, too! Maybe we'll be weiners... um... winners!