Up until this year, I'd only entered one contest, the 2011 Golden Acorn. This year I have two completed manuscripts I need to get out there. Due to a nice little bonus from my husband's work, I was able to send them off to four contests. Well, three really, because Bump in the night is a flash fiction contest, so I sent a funny zombie short.
Now that the last of the entries has been returned to me, I thought I would evaluate my experience.
Here is how I placed, I made the finals for Heart to Heart Hot Prospect, and Bump in the Night flash fiction, and I didn't make the finals for the Emily, but I was very happy with the score.
What I've learned-
- I loved, loved, loved the feedback, but judging is subjective
- I shouldn't get my feathers ruffled.
- I can see this as a great way to try out a storyline.
Would I do it again?
Probably. I really enjoyed the feedback, and the writing credits are great, plus I had editors and agents reading and requesting my work, which might not happen when you're floating on the slush pile.
What would I suggest looking for in a contest?
Lowest score dropped, or at least a contingency judge for divergent scores. -- Since judging is subjective, this will help if you get a judge who doesn't get your voice.
Editors and agents you want to see your work. -- If you final, you want to have someone you respect reading your work.
Where they advertise winners -- another great way to get editor. agent attention is to look for contests that take out RT/RWR ads to post winners. Posting on websites/social media/blogs is also helpful. The more your name is out there, the better.
Reasons I to try it.
- You are pretty confident in your work and want editors and agents to see it
- You aren't sure of a story and want unbiased opinions
- You are ready to submit to editors and agents but are afraid "My mommy loves it" will be your only credential.
Reasons not to try it.
- You are particularly sensitive to critiques.
- You haven't shown your work to a soul.
Feel free to share what you love/hate about contests, or just share a contest with great perks. I'd love to hear what you have to say.