Ok so this fall I entered a number of contests. Aside from one entry last year, this was my first foray into the world of RWA contestland.
It was interesting.
And I don’t think I’ll do it again :).
Now, it’s nothing against contests in general, or RWA in particular, I’m just not sure how much feedback I can winnow out that is not related to me not having followed established romance parameters- particularly for not introducing the “meeting of the mates” sooner.
Of course, I don’t write Romance books- so that could be the problem. But as someone who reads Romance, I would argue that many books I have enjoyed don’t have the romance build in until AFTER the first 20-25 pages (the length of a standard contest sub.) In fact I find myself very annoyed with the sudden introduction and immediate “falling for each other but fighting it” that is often found in romances.
I want it to build. Having them be “inexplicably drawn to each other on first sight” on page 12 just doesn’t work for me. So even if and when I do cross into writing Romance, I would still have this problem in terms of contests.
Now, there was some good feedback, and once I finish the rough of The Glass Gargoyle I’ll be really digging into the feedback and adding in what works.
Here’s some things that don’t work:
1) Giving a high score and NO comments. Most contests say the judges have to comment for a half or less score. Well one of the highest scores I got had no comments. Which makes me wonder- did the judge even read it? Or were they in a rush and just gave very high scores just to get it done? I was also a judge in this contest (different categories than I was entered obviously) but even on the ones I LOVED, I made comments. To anyone out there who may find themselves judging- do it right, give some feedback- or don’t do it! The high but useless score is akin to a critique where the person just says, “I loved it!” Nice to hear but useless for feedback.
2) Commenting on how well a specific aspect was done- then giving a low score for that aspect. Ok, what’s up with that? The judge forgot which number meant “good”? This happened a number of times; the comments didn’t match up with the scores. And I’m not talking about the “I’m criticizing you so now I’ll say something nice to make you feel better”- I’m talking “Loved this!” then being given a 3 (think C) for that component. SIGH. Not real helpful.
Things that did work:
1) Getting your work in front of folks who don’t know you and who you hope will be honest. Really did get a few bits of good feedback and ideas. I think for newer writers this could be a way to toughen the skin anonymously.
2) The chance to final. Ok, I didn’t think this would be a big deal- but when they announced my name it was cool. LOL. As writers we don’t get all that many kudos moments and that one rocked. And taking second in the Miss Snark’s First Victim contest REALLY rocked.
So for the fall I entered the blog Miss Snarks First Victim’s Secret Agent Contest (Sept) and came in second (with a request for a full from an agent) * I cannot recommend this blog enough- go NOW- great stuff there*.
Then entered the Golden Palm Contest with one entry- didn’t final;
the On The Far Side Contest– two didn’t final, one did;
and the Launching a Star- no word back yet.
All and all it’s been an interesting experience- both not as bad as I feared, nor as good as I hoped;).
Any of you have great ups or great downs brought on by entering contests?