Saturday, December 19, 2009

Contemplations on Contests

So, I've never entered a writing contest. Until last night. Last night I sent an entry to the North Texas Romance Writers Great Expectations. Not sure why. Perhaps because I plan to join our local RWA in another week. Perhaps because it's time to do something and I'm not sure what.

At the same time, an agent blogger I read talked about Amazon's breakthrough novel contest and knocked it, because the winner is "stuck" with a $15,000 advance and a publishing contract with Penguin. As an agent, he feels an author could do better with representation.

Now, I'm a newbie. I've only been rejected about ten times and I don't even have a manuscript "out" at the moment. My queries are all tucked nicely here at home for the holidays. I'm trying to meet people and make that personal connection to get the right agent because mailing out unsolicited queries seem like a waste of postage in today's environment. But, I could be wrong.

But if I entered's contest, and I won, would I "be content" with what Penguin has to offer. I thought about this, for about five seconds, and realized the answer.

A resounding "Hell, yes."

$15,000 isn't much. But it's more than I made at my job last year. It could pay for that extended vacation in France. It would not mean quitting my job. It would not mean a Mercedes convertible. But it IS more than I've made it writing thus far. I think the total from my fiction career weighs in at about $1500 and that's from editing other people's books, not mine.

And it's Penguin for God's sake! Penguin could offer me $20 as an advance and I'd treat the family to a meal at Sonic and we'd celebrate. We're not talking about a POD publisher or some small press. It's Penguin.

The alternative? To keep sending out queries to people I meet at conferences, networking in writers groups and with published authors, and reading and researching and praying.

That $15,000 sounds pretty sweet.

But one thing about the Amazon contest bugs me. Even before they determine the first round of survivors, they want the whole manuscript. This makes me very uncomfortable. First chapter, I'm okay with that. But the whole kit and kaboodle. To Amazon. Not happy with that.

Is it worth the risk?

I'm not sure.


  1. Angel,

    It's totally worth the try. It could open a million amazing doors if you win this thing. I published a book - for kicks, just to see what it felt like a few years ago. I entered it into two contests. I didn't win, but my novel was featured at the New York Book Festival and won "honorable mention" at the 42nd Annual Conference of Jewish Librarians. Not that that is a lot to write home about, but it made editors and agents suddenly speak to me with mutual respect. My book had been reviewed by esteemed professionals in the business, and they liked me.

    So, I didn't make $15,000...but it got some notice. That's worth a million. Good work impresses people no matter what. I have not read your fiction, but I have a strong sense that your work is good. Hey, if you get stuck in a four book contract, that's not so bad...not so bad at all.

    Good luck and all that:) Hopefully, I made sense.


  2. I have a list of contests I do plan to pursue, and I plan to renew my subscription to Poets & Writers to make sure I keep researching avenues. But I still don't like giving anyone my full manuscript.