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.