To Contest or Not?

by Guest Blogger on September 3, 2010 · 10 comments

in Book Intro, Guest Blogger, S-U, Writing Tips

by Belle Sloane, guest blogger

Looking back over all the years I’ve been writing I can’t actually account for the number of contests I’ve entered.  It’s a good thing too, because I’d probably have a heart attack if I actually knew how much money I’ve spent on entry fees, not to mention postage and printing, before contests became primarily electronic.

I was driven to participate in contests from the very beginning of my writing adventure.  I’ll admit I’m a pretty competitive person.  But it wasn’t just that.   I needed to hear what others thought of my work.   People who didn’t already know and love me.

In the beginning all I received were mostly kindly, encouraging remarks which I realized over time, were the judges way of telling me I had a long way to go, as nicely as they could.  I appreciate all you judges out there who took the time out to read my work and give me feedback over the years.  And I mean I thank all the judges.  There were of course the judges who were not so kindly in their comments.  Those harsh comments didn’t feel at all helpful at the time.  In fact sometimes I had to put those particular entries away for a week or two and go back and look at them later to be able to read them.  Then again over time those tough comments did end up helping me as well.  They got me ready for the rejections I received when I finally started submitting.

The whole routine one goes through entering a contest mirrors the submission process.  So, I believe it’s a really good way to get yourself prepared for when you’re ready to get your work out there.  There are guidelines to follow, timelines to heed, and the waiting.  Boy does that waiting seem endless sometimes.  Yet, it’s a very real part of the publishing world.  Entering contests also engenders a decent amount of confidence—a much needed commodity in this business.  :)

Entering a contest, The Rebecca, of the Land of Enchantment Romance Authors (New Mexico RWA chapter) is what led to the sale of my first book, Sweet Charity, an erotic western historical, to Red Sage Publishing, Inc. < www.eRedSage.com >  I’m living proof that one can sell through contesting.  I have to admit I’d been a bit of a skeptic about that possibility before my experience.

If you’ve never entered a contest, look around, try one—there are many, many out there waiting for you.  If you enter them regularly, keep on.  You never know what might come out of taking that chance.

Author Bio: Belle Sloane grew up in one of the great European cities of romance, Heidelberg, Germany. Growing up in Europe gave her an opportunity to travel extensively, which she feels colors and textures her writing in a big way. She lives in New Mexico’s  beautiful Rio Grande Valley, with her dream man, and their wonderful kids. Belle would love to hear from you, so drop her a line at Belles@bigstring.com, or visit her blog at www.bellesbuzz.blogspot.com.

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Shea Berkley September 3, 2010 at 7:43 AM

Belle,

It’s so encouraging to hear that people actually do sell through contests. It takes a lot of confidence to put yourself out there like that time and again, but it sounds like you took the judges comments and made them work for you. Now you have a writing career. That’s so exciting. Thanks for sharing your story.

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2 Molly Evans September 3, 2010 at 8:24 AM

Hey Belle,
you are so right about the waiting! But in the end, it’s worth it for the feedback and the growth in the writing. I’ve purchased your story and can’t wait to read it. Congratulations on your sale and here’s to reading many more!
Molly

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3 jeanne September 3, 2010 at 10:48 AM

Nice job, Belle. I’ve never entered a contest, but you gave a nice summary of the pluses and minuses.
thanks.

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4 Doranna September 3, 2010 at 11:03 AM

Sold through a contest…I salute you! I never did the contest thing until this summer–my first after how many years in the biz?–and I found myself a wreck over it! Nerves of steel. Not!

–Doranna

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5 Isabel Roman September 3, 2010 at 12:14 PM

I entered contests all the time before I sold, but never sold through a contest. I took the comments for feedback and help, and tried not to let the bad remarks get to me. :)

But it’s good to know that selling through contests works!

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6 Gabi Stevens September 3, 2010 at 4:52 PM

Congrats on the sale, Belle. I used to love contests and found them helpful and encouraging, especially when one finalled. I agree with you. Contests do give you an inkling of how the business works: deadlines, waiting, rejections and the occasional win.
Congrats again on Sweet Charity.

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7 Laurie Green September 3, 2010 at 6:48 PM

Great article, Belle. I’m also a big fan of contests and I’ve had a couple wins earn me a shortcut to the top of certain slush piles (though no sales yet). Feedback can not only offer solid advice on what needs work, it can also be a great endorsement for what you’re doing right.

Congrats on your release. Can’t wait to read it!

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8 Belle Sloane September 3, 2010 at 10:47 PM

I’m so sorry to get back to you so late. Thank you one and all for your wonderful and gracious comments. I really appreciate your visits.

I was unable to access this from work, because most of the “exciting” places are blocked on our computers. Then I ended up going to a work related function that lasted until almost 7:00.

Even now when I’m finally settling in at the computer, a very loud and persistent cricket has ensconced herself somewhere in my writing space.

Thank you all again,
Belle
@}–{—————

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9 Sarah Storme September 4, 2010 at 3:34 PM

Congratulations on the sale, Belle! Good information, too. That feedback really helps.

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10 Belle Sloane September 5, 2010 at 6:14 AM

Thanks again, Sarah and all of you ladies.

Belle
@}–{———-

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