Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Mile 10 - CONTESTS
A tip a day to keep the rejections away

One writing tip a day for 26.2 days.  Now, that's a marathon of words!


What are my qualifications? For several years, I’ve written the Pet Vet column for the Post Bulletin newspaper. I’ve had articles published in RunMinnesota, DVM360 journal, and The Wagazine. I’m in a wonderful critique group that meets weekly to tell me everything I’ve done wrong.


Save yourself some time by learning from my mistakes.


Abbreviations as follows:

WIP = work in progress

CP = critique partner

MS = manuscript




Here are five rules guaranteed to make you win any contest!

Just kidding.  (But don’t you wish it were true?)

Instead, here’s five things I’ve learned about writing contests:


1)      You won’t win every contest you enter. 

This should be obvious.  But feel free to laugh and learn from my folly.  When I did quite well in the first contest I entered (leading to several requests and a rather big head on my part), I thought:  “I rock!  My query rocks!  I’m going to enter as many contests as I can with my rockin’ query and pile up the requests!”


Then I didn’t get anywhere with the next few contests I entered.  But that’s really okay.  I learned a lot from the comments I received, and I’m still waiting on a few of the requests.  (So please excuse me while I go drink another bottle of antacid because I’ve got a MS request ulcer the size of our national debt eating away at my gut.)


2)      You won’t hear from every contest you enter.

This one surprised me.  Some well-organized contests send you a “we received your entry” reply right away followed soon after with a “thanks, but no thanks, we picked someone else more worthy” rejection.


And I’m fine with that.  What I’m not fine with is the never knowing, even with extensive online hunting for the results.  It’s frustrating to wait on a contest entry when it’s been so long you’d like to shop it around elsewhere, but don’t feel like you “have permission” yet.  So be forewarned, if you want to publish your WIP soon, perhaps you don’t want to tie it up in a never ending contest.


3)      Online contests are a great way to meet people on Twitter.

Yes, I know I may never really see these people in real life, but sometimes it’s nice to talk to other writers about the highs and lows of the querying game.  Misery loves company, right?

4)      Online contests are a great way to get your query or first few pages critiqued.

Of course, the more people you ask, the more diverse opinions you will receive, but it’s truly helpful to have a “fresh set of eyes” (other than your CP group, who’s already seen it twenty times) take a gander at your work.

5)      Online contests are a great way to get your BUTT in gear.

Confession:  I once entered a contest solely to FORCE myself to finish edits on a MS which had languished in my cabinet for over a year.  The same contest also FORCED me to (ahem) start a blog…this blog.  I’ll admit I dragged my feet with both the blog and the Twitter thing.  Before that, I dragged my feet with the DVD over VHS thing.  And now, darn it all, I’ve been modernized, and I’m not sure I like it.



What contests have you entered?  Did you find the process enjoyable?
See you tomorrow for Mile 11!

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