Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Contests--Are they worth the effort and cost?

Posted by Eileen Astels

Notice how I put "effort" before "cost" in the title?

The cost of entering writers' contests is definitely the lesser of the two requirements, that is if you plan to utilize the contest to the max.

To achieve the most from entering a contest you really do need to expend some massive effort. After you've rewritten and rewritten, perhaps even sought out professional editing, then you really must, must, must, follow the submission guidelines exactly as defined in each contest listing your submitting to.

Though there are often many similarities throughout the various contests, some require specific layouts, headers, etc. Be cautious. Study the specific guidelines for each contest you choose to enter and follow them exactly.

Another helpful thing to do is check out the scoring sheets. Most contests provide a sample score sheet that the judges follow. Be aware of where the weight of the scores lie. What specifically are the contest coordinators looking for--having the judges rate? Spend a little more time addressing these areas in your submission for optimal feedback.

Remember, everything in writing is subjective, so take the feedback and scores you receive as a "TOOL" to progress in your writing endeavors. Don't take them as the be all and end all. Even those who have won prestigious writing contests haven't sold their manuscript. And those who have scored low, have gone on to sell.

Contest are a way to learn and grow in this industry. They can, and should, provide a means to toughen a writer's skin, preparing them for the critical world of reviewers.

If you're interested in getting a little extra help with your submission before you enter the ACFW's Genesis Contest or any other contest, you might want to check out an offer that Kaye Dacus has going right now. A great opportunity, in my opinion!

Blessings, and good luck to all you entrants. May we all receive valuable feedback.



Jessica Nelson said...

Effort is right! I'm always paranoid that I may have forgotten something or messed something up in my entry. Talk about stress. ;-)

Eileen Astels Watson said...

I know what you mean. I go over and over those submissions about ten times before sending for fear that I've made one stupid blunder that will void it from even being judged. VERY STRESSFUL!

Catherine West said...

I'm definitely on the fence as far as contests go. Writing is SO subjective. Unless you really do well in a contest, I'm not so sure the judges comments can really benefit you because you don't know who the judges are, and if you get random scores, like a low and two highs or one really high and two lows, then you still don;t know where you went wrong or whether they were just having a bad day. I'm taking a break from contests for now. For me, it's not worth the stress or the money.