Your finished manuscript has been edited to within an inch of its life. You’ve taken well-meaning criticism and feedback from your critique partners, beta readers and editor. Now what?
You’re ready to submit to contests, publish or submit to agents or publishers. A select few publishers accept author submissions, though the vast majority, require submissions through agents.
Whether you’re a seasoned, published author or an unpublished newbie, you may want to consider entering contests. There are many wonderful contests available to you. They are generally inexpensive to enter. If you enter, be sure you diligently follow guidelines to the letter. Any deviation from the guidelines will result in rejection.
Why enter contests?
As far as I’m concerned, there are a couple substantial reasons to consider entering.
1) If you’re lucky enough to win, final or place, you have the ability to advertise your work and yourself as “award winning.” Some even provide banners or logos to use in advertising your accolades. This can influence readers to buy your book, agents to consider representation, and publishers to buy your work.
2) Another perk of entering whether you win or not is you get the opportunity to have other authors, your peers, editors and agents read your manuscript. Their feedback can help perfect your manuscript if you take their advice. There’s also the possibility a judging agent or editor may request your manuscript or offer you a deal.
As an author, it’s important to grow a thick skin. Take feedback and glean tidbits of gold from it to improve your writing. Disregard the rest. Learn to let it roll off your shoulders. Don’t take it personally.
The groups running contests offer them for our benefit as authors to help perfect our craft and expose our work to industry professionals. It’s well-meaning. They generally take great pains to train judges diligently on how to provide useful, actionable critiques. Mostly this works to our advantage, but occasionally we receive harsh criticism anyway.
It wasn’t meant as a personal affront. Though they are trained, judges are still human, with all the same issues and pressures we all have in our lives. Feedback is subjective. Tastes vary.
Look at the overall advice. Take the good from it. Forget the rest.
If you see a pattern of advice concerning a specific subject (say POV), there are many inexpensive, online classes offered by RWA and its chapters. Take advantage of them. Like any other career, writing well requires continual learning, if for no other reason than to keep up with our ever-changing industry.