Friday, March 21, 2008

Contests After Publication with Christy Barritt

Christy Barritt

Contests AFTER Publication?

I have a confession to make—I think I only entered one contest before I received a publishing contract. When I got the results back, the judges were fair in their scores—some comments were encouraging and others were so-so. Still, it wasn’t the rousing response I’d dreamed about. I’m a writer so I’ve got a great imagination. In my mind, I was going to blow every single judge away with my manuscript. They were going to be recommending me to their agents. People were going to ask, why isn’t that girl published? I need to read more!

Okay, so on top of having a great imagination, I’m also an annoying optimist. Sometimes.

I didn’t enter many contests after that. Not because I was afraid they wouldn’t live up to my expectations, but because soon after I got an honest-to-God contract from a great publisher.

Then something weird happened. My publisher decided to enter my already published book into contests. Huh? I wondered. Why would they do this? Maybe the contest wins would look good. But what did that say about contest loses? Would it make my publisher change their mind and wish they’d never taken on my book? Would they realize what a colossal mistake adding me to their roster was and warn every other publisher to never, ever take on Christy Barritt?

Mrs. Optimistic slipped away and I said hello to the pesky pessimist.

Surprisingly, my mystery novel, Hazardous Duty, did final in the Foreword Magazine Book of the Year and placed third in the ACFW Book of the Year/Suspense category.

In the ACFW Book of the Year, authors get back scoresheets from their judges.


Did I really want to read what they had to say? I mean, let’s face it: the book is published so whatever critiques I get aren’t going to make my book stronger.

I still remember when I got an email with the judges’ comments. I stared at the attachments for probably 20 minutes without opening them. Then I walked away. I ignored them. I tried to forget them. I told myself I wasn’t going to read what the judges wrote. After all, I’d placed third. Why let the judges’ comments burst my bubble?

Two weeks later—yes, really—I finally opened the attachments. You know what? The comments weren’t as awful as I’d thought they’d be. In fact, they were pretty encouraging. There were a couple of things emphasized that could make my book even stronger and I tried to incorporate those comments into my next book.

At whatever stage of the game you’re at, there’s always something to learn. Contests can be great for the published and soon-to-be published. In fact, I’m even starting to look forward to them!
I get to introduce Christy Barritt. YAY! She is my critique partner. She's the one who explained with painful slowness, for the TENTH time what POV meant. She also wheedled and urged until she and my other critique partners talked me into attending my very first writer's conference, the year Petticoat Ranch won the historical catergory of the Noble Theme Contest.
And she and Susan Smykla Osborne took turns
shoving me out from under the bed so I'd go meet editors.
She's one of my favorite people on the planet.
She's got the second book in her Squeaky Clean Mystery series coming from Kregel in May and I couldn't figure out how to load her new cover which is not my fault. Christy hasn't taught me how to do that yet. Find out more about Christy at her website.


  1. Welcome to Seekerville, Christy.

    Wow you are brave. Frankly, I have never heard of a published contest that had comments. I have always judged panels with simply a ranking system.

    And who is judging you, other published authors as in the RITA or unpublished authors?

    This is very interesting..and again you are brave.

  2. Oh my! Like you, I assumed that if a book is published, it is golden. No more failure. I guess if the publisher submits it there is no way to avoid the risk. If my book is published, I will be floating.

    I don't know if I would ever have opened that envelope. I would not want to be brought down to earth. Kudos to your courage and your teachable spirit.

  3. Hi, Christy. I'm sorry I fumbled the second book cover. It wouldn't load.
    How are you handling Holy Week. You're the worship leader at your church, right? I'll bet you've got something every day this week.
    I loved Hazardous Duty and can't wait for Suspicious Minds.

    Christy is the reigning queen of great plot ideas. She's just always coming up with off-beat careers and somehow twisting them into crime solving.

  4. Welcome to Seekerville, Christy! Thanks for your perspective on contests after publication (something I hope I have the opportunity to experience someday--I think). True, you can't go back and revise once it's published, but I can see how the feedback could actually help an author make upcoming books even better. In this business, we never stop learning!

  5. So great to have you here in Seekerville, Christy, and soooo good to get your perspective on entering contests AFTER publication!! I think I would be like you, a bit nervous about reading those judge's comments, so I appreciated your insight. Congrats on both books!

    And, Myra honey, it's not "think," it's KNOW ... as in definitely gonna happen!!!


  6. Christy, thanks for your insight. I really haven't given much thought to what I'd do contest-wise after I get published. Knowing what contest to enter as an unpubbed are consuming my thought. Okay, not consuming. More like "lingering around in."

    And considering the dog is "lingering around" my feet in hopes the 4-yr-old won't notice him, I've got my hands...umm, feet full. For some reason her apology (DOG, I'm sorry I stuck gum on you and made you a dalmation) hasn't endeared her to him.

    Then again, one offer from her of "wanna go potty" and he's her biggest fan again. The dog has no standards.

    Back to topic...

    Are any of the pubbed Seekers entered in any contests? Got any feedback/experience to share?

  7. Christy, good to have you here! Congratulations on your books. Sounds like you got a contract early on. I'd love to hear your Call story.

    And thanks for pushing Mary to attend her first writers' conference. We'd never have met her otherwise. What would Seekerville be without her?

    I look forward to entering pubbed contests, not because I'm sure my book will do well, but because I love contests. I haven't entered for two years so I'm in serious withdrawal.


  8. I entered theACFW Boty contest and the RITA and, is it ICRS? that does the Christy awards? Right.
    That's it so far.

    My head's just not in contest. I did make a note of those contests Robin Hatcher said she enters because she said it builders readership...or something like that.

    so I might enter then another year but I missed them this year.

  9. It's really hard to judge a published contest and make comments.

    Been there, done that.

    Not fun.

    Welcome Christy!

  10. Wow, I'm so impressed with all of these comments (I actually typed "contests" accidentally at first... oops! You know where my head is!)

    Thanks for having me here, Mary. As you can see, I may have taught you a few things, but I still haven't learned how to get my picture up there when I post comments on blogs. Go figure! :-)

    Tina asked about who's judging you after you're published. That's a great question and I'm not 100% confident in answering...

    Oops... son just entered my office and is threatening to delete everything off my computer (okay, he's only a year and a half but he's brillant. What can I say?)

    Must run for now. More later.


  11. LOL, Christy! I remember typing away on my book once many years ago (on my very first computer), and all of a sudden, it went off! My toddler had pushed the power button.

    Of course, nowadays, you can't do that. You have to hold the button down. Some computer genius must have had a todder. :)

    Welcome to Seekerville! I'm still cracking up about you waiting 2 weeks to read your scores!! Man, what discipline!! LOL


  12. 'Typing With Toddlers'

    Now there's something I would take a class on! My toddler recently sent my chapter link a message that read, "slkdfn aslkdf sovox".

    I played it cool though. I said, "I meant to do that."

    Great blog Christy!

  13. LOL, Rebecca! My eleven-year-old still likes to play. She's always poking at keys as I type. If I'm sending an important email, I fuss at her because I'm so afraid it'll say something crazed. :)


  14. Happy Easter Everyone! What an interesting author! It kind of sounds like a fantasy in the way she ended up getting publishes. Is that the kind of wonderful things that happen to optimists?! I wish you much success and fun with your writings. Your books sound delightful! Thanks,Cindi

  15. Welcome, Christy!

    Very interesting post. I've always wondered about the benefits (or not LOL!) of entering contests once pubbed.