|High levels of frustration|
got you down?
It's not that I didn't believe I'd written something great/earth-shattering/the next amazing breakout novel, it's just that I needed to write my book in order for a part of me to heal. Once I was done, I had no great ambitions.
Flash forward a year later. (Oh, the difference a year makes!)
I pulled out my novel and really considered what to do with it. Publish it, of course! Until I read all the publishers' websites and realized that they didn't take anything unsolicited. Period. What next, I thought. One publisher's website suggested Writer's Market, so I headed out and picked up the three-inch thick tome of wisdom and thought I'd struck gold. Did any other writers know about this holy grail full of agents, publishers, and contest info? No, I must be the only one. Right? So, I read it. One article focused on contests and how the author of the article had found his way in the writing world by navigating this route. Thus, I started on my long journey of entering literary contests.
Now, if you read my bio, you'll see that I've won some awards for my writing. Out of those I've won or placed in, I don't think I can begin to tell you how much money sifted through my hands because of all the others I entered but earned squat. Contests can really help your writing (I'd say career, but just give me a minute on that one) but there is also a very dark side to those enticing cash prizes and supposed claims to fame. A side that no article, agent, publisher, or even contest chair warns the participants about. But I will!
The Pros of literary contests include the following:
1) Your work is finally our there for others to read. This, in a nutshell, is what we all want.
2) If you win or place, it is the most fantastic feeling in the world, as if yes, you've finally arrived.
3) If a contest includes a critique, this is incredibly helpful to any writer, mainly because these are people who don't know you (meaning not your mother, sister, aunt, good friends, etc.) who have anonymously read your work and agree that it is either praiseworthy or crap that needs a lot of revising.
4) If the contest allows for the readers to read their work in front of God and everyone at the conference, jump at the chance. It allows for you to see the affect your writing has on others (When I did a reading of one of mine, I had people coming up to me really wanting to know what happened next, and I only read the Prologue!)
5) Of course, the money, if there is a great cash prize (otherwise it can be a bit disheartening to receive a check that's hardly worth the paper it's printed on, or just a nice pat on the back for placing).
The Cons of literary contests include the following:
1) The amount of money you'll find yourself shelling out (My cheapest contest was $5 and my most expensive was $100. Quite a range, if you ask me). We all want to be told that our work is great, but be careful!
2) Unprofessional/unqualified critiquers/judges. (I found myself overly irate with the last contest I entered. The critiquer was clearly unqualified to be critiquing my category -- It had nothing to do with my writing, but instead all of my research that they "picked apart". This person really had no idea what he/she was talking about -- so I sent a letter to the contest chair. In the end, it seems it's always the writer's fault. I was picked to critique in the same contest, and believe me, having been published was not a requirement. You just needed to know how to put a coherent sentence together.)
3) Conferences connected to contest banquets and results. (I'll probably post later on down the line about my aversion to conferences, but when they try to fleece the winners/finalists of all their winnings by attaching a conference to the contest results that really chaps my hide. We are writers. We have no money.)
4) Little to no honesty concerning entrants. (What I mean here, is that most contests don't have a cap on the number of entries they receive. Depending on the contest, that could either be good or bad. Major literary contests need a cap, otherwise you're competing amongst a few hundred other entrants per category. For small, local, or largely unknown contests it's not much of a problem. I would actually direct most writers along these routes because so few people enter. Do beware of contests that seem sketchy or the cash prize is so big that it makes you wonder. More often than not it's a scam.)
5) The fact that you sent off a crappy manuscript when it's too late to do anything about it. (Most contests specifically state that if you made corrections after mailing out your entry, then you'll have to pretty much send out a new entry with another check and everything. Here, it's the author's fault. Read through your work, make the corrections, and make sure it's the best thing you're capable of writing before slapping a stamp on that envelope. Otherwise, you are most definitely wasting your money.)
|Enter a literary|
see what happens!