Posted by: Katie B | March 1, 2010

Contests: Really, you have nothing to lose…

The Chairs

I mention to my family that  I am submitting to two writing competitions at the beginning of 2010 and they ask, “Where’d you get your confidence from?”  Confidence?  Not really.  More like stomach knotting anxiety.  But honestly, I have nothing to lose.  And the key is that all submissions and responses are NOT done in person.  Phew!  They have no idea who I am, and I will never meet them.  I can handle rejection better when it is NOT face to face.

So I suggest you give it a try.  There are some potentially huge upsides:

First:  It gives you submission practice.  Like all activities, the more you practice, the better you get.  The better you get, the better chance you have of winning.  Every time I look at my cover letter, query letter, synopsis, etc. I see something else, something different.  Every time it gets stronger.  Wouldn’t you rather work out all your kinks on a blind contest submission over the one that really matters to your perspective agent???

Second:  You might get money.  No further explanation needed.  And any amount is fine to me!  It is better than what I am earning now as a writer.  The first contest I entered pays out $25.  Fantastic!  Next coffee outing will be on me!

Third:  RECOGNITION.  Wow – this is a big one.   For a first time writer, this is huge.  Most contests publicize their results and depending on the contest, agents and editors are watching.  You might get an excerpt of your work published through the organization and an agent or editor might see it.  You will have a bona-fide credential for your bio, not the death slap ‘my mother liked it and I thought you might like it too’.  Publicity, networking, validation:  these are all your potential benefits.  Wouldn’t it be worth a try?

So where are the contests?  With a little research online and through the writer’s reference bible “Writer’s Market”, you will be sure to find one that fits your specifications.  Here are the two I recently submitted to:

Women Who Write of Madison, NJ publish an annual literary magazine, Goldfinch.  Their submission period is from November 1st through December 31st.  There is a nominal cash award for the top prose and poetry submissions.  But better still, if you are selected, you get your piece published!

SCBWI (Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) has several grant and award opportunities.  Their submission period runs from February 15th to March 15th.  Winners can take home up to $2000 (!!!).  Even more exciting is that the NATIONALLY known SCBWI announces the results to the entire children’s publishing community.  Okay, admit it, you feel the butterflies, too.

So, what are you waiting for?  Get out there and let me know how it goes.  I get inspired from good news (subject of a previous post!).

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