Well I finally did it! I finally entered the first twenty pages of my novel in a contest—two actually.
I will admit I’m very nervous to get my pages back and read the comments left by the judges. And yes, both contests I entered provide feedback. That reason alone is what helped me to decide which contests to enter.
I would love to win or final—either or would be a great boast for my flagging writer’s ego—but even if I don’t place, the responses may help me to see how my first chapter can be improved upon, so when I decide to query for an agent, I will be sending out my best possible work.
My manuscript has been through many revisions, critiques, and even three beta reads. On the outside my novel seems almost ready to be sent out into the dog-eat-dog world of the agent hunt.
As I wrote my synopsis and fretted over the writing of my query letter, I came across a blog—can’t for the life of me remember who’s it was since I read and skim through so many each day—that recommended an aspiring author try their MS in a few contests because of the invaluable feedback provided before they query.
I believe contests may help me prepare myself as well as their MS’s. What I mean by prepare myself is simply I feel that contests will help me deal with rejection a little better.
There is one other reason why I opted to try a few contests before I queried. A fellow writer friend of mine entered the first chapter of her finished MS in a contest, and when she received the pages back, complete with comments from the judges, she was totally taken by surprise. Although the judges enjoyed her story, they pointed out things that needed improving—things she hadn’t realized before.
My writer friend was stunned. She began to wonder if maybe the things pointed out from the judges were the reasons she kept receiving rejections from the agents she queried.
This prompted her to take a good long look at her MS. After making the necessary adjustments, her manuscript was not only stronger for it, but read much more smoothly.
What about you? Have you entered any writing contests? How did you find the experience?