To Enter or Not to Enter
You wrote a book. It's really good. Your mother says so, your sister says
so, your best friend swears it. You're smart enough not to mention that
to prospective editors. But gosh, you need to let them know. How do you
- The best ones for first-time authors offer feedback. Hopefully this
is constructive, but it's not always so. Look to see who's judging your
material. Unpublished writers? Run the other way. Not that unpublished
writers are unfair or unknowledgeable. They're readers, after all, and
they know what they like and don't like. But often, they don't offer constructive
criticism. Or the contest coordinators ran short on volunteers and drafted
a regency buff to judge a contest for erotic fiction. You see how that
could be a bad match. There are others.
- Select contests targeting your genre. Don't send a psycho-thriller to
a contest for romances.
- Select contests with a final round judged by an editor who works for
the house/line you're targeting. If you write Harlequin American-type
stories, and if a HA editor judges the final round, and if your story
makes the final round, then you bypass the whole query process.
- If you write romance, join Romance Writers of America. In their monthly
magazine, they list current contests. Write or email the contacts for
- Select contests that are well respected. There are heavy-weight ones
that look good on any resume or website. If you're a member of a local
club, and you should be, ask other members which ones these are.
- Look at the names of the contests. There are stupid-sounding ones you'd
feel silly mentioning, even if you won.