Confessions of a Contest Whore, Part 1

Contest image

Since the first of the year, I’ve entered Demon’s Wager in five contests. Each contest costs $25 or $30 to enter, so you may be asking, “Why did she do that?”

(If, in fact, you’re asking, “how can she afford to do that?” the answer is: I program computers to support my writing habit.)

Why I did that was:

1) To get unbiased feedback from strangers, people who don’t know me and therefore won’t cut me any slack based on friendship or knowing how long and how hard I’ve worked on this book.

2) To find out if my story connects with readers.

3) To toughen myself up in preparation for the real world.

4)  To get a shot at getting the attention of industry professionals–agents and editors–who generally serve as final round judges.

I did pretty well against this list, except for item 3). So far, the worst thing any of the first-round judges have said to me is, “I don’t find devils and demons appealing, but your work is excellent and I can see it doing well in the future.” Not exactly soul-crushing.

One judge made no comments. She simply ran my pages through copyediting software and sent back the results. Which was kind of nice, actually, since I don’t own such software myself. I went in and fixed everything it found (including overuse of a few words that I really, really, really like).

And, two editors have requested to see my full manuscript based on the pages they read.

As far as item 3), I’ve only seen feedback from two contests so far, so I may yet get my wish.


Graphic courtesy of Stuart Miles and freedigitalphotos.net.

10 thoughts on “Confessions of a Contest Whore, Part 1

  1. Jeanne, I’ve gotten some item 3) feedback from a couple of contests and it helps to remember that judges are human and they are not always right when reading it. I’ve gotten several comments “correcting” things that were actually correct to begin with and feedback that reflects their personal preferences and likes/dislikes (which is fine). The comments can often be valuable, whether they have liked your story or not, but not always. I have also learned to recognize when a judge just isn’t my reader and to filter their comments based on that. Someone who is not my reader (a Regency romance fan) is going to be unfamiliar with a lot of the things that are expected / taken for granted by readers of that sub-genre.

    Great that you have gotten such strong feedback (totally expected).

  2. After I wrote this, I did get some feedback from a judge who wasn’t taken with my entry–told me very kindly that it was a cliche and she hoped I could find a way to differentiate it.

    And, lest anyone think I got off completely unscathed, my critique partner shredded my ms., pointing out every inconsistency, weak motivation, unfortunate word choice and just things she didn’t like. It was salutary.

  3. It seems to have really worked out for you! I know how hard you have worked to get to this point — and I can’t wait to see your book on shelves next time I go back to the States. (It might be awhile before I can go back, so you’ve got standard publishing lead time (-:.)

  4. Your contest experience has been awesome. Congratulations on all the mostly positive feedback and the two requests from editors! That’s really, really, really terrific. 🙂

    • It truly has been awesome, Kay. And after writing 20 hours a week for 13 years, it’s also validating. I have one sister who calls me up once a month to ask why I’m wasting my time trying to write fiction when it’s obvious I have no talent for it. Things have gotten kind of quiet from that quarter lately..

      • Ha! Don’t forget to tell her the Golden Heart ceremony is being live streamed so she can share in your big night, Jeanne 🙂

        • 🙂 I will say that once the contest wins started rolling in, she called to congratulate me, and sounded very happy for me.

Let Us Know What You Think

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s