Sunday, 12 June 2011

To enter or not enter...that is the question!

I thought I'd throw the subject of Romance Writers of America chapter contests out there today! Do you enter? If yes, why? If no, why not? For the last three years now I have entered each of my manuscripts in three selected chapter contests for a specific and calculated reason.

Anyone guess?

Feedback, feedback, feedback!

I am published six times over, I have received numerous lovely five star reviews, I have been top of The Wild Rose Press bestseller list BUT I feel the same with every book I write...Can I really do this??

Self-doubt is a writer's best friend and nemesis all rolled into one - I strongly believe we need it to stop us developing egos that will lead to self-destruction and at the same time it can be paralysing. So this is where these contests become vital in me pushing forward on a particular manuscript.

If I received positive feedback (or better final!) from a contest with regard to a new project, it gives me the confidence I might be onto something worthwhile - and on the other hand, if the feedback from two or three different judges concentrates on one area that they didn't like/understand/agree with, it gives me a place to work on, something that I know needs changing or improving.

What do you think? Do you agree or do you avoid these contests like the plague?

I'd love to hear from you!

Rachel x


  1. Interesting topic, Rachel. I haven't entered in a while, but judge one or two contests yearly. Helps cement what I know and give back a little to those who've given to me. That is, however, an excellent way to get feedback and what helped convince me I was closer to submitting a work than I realized. The self-doubt part of writing can really get in one's way!

    Joanna Aislinn
    Dream. Believe. Strive. Achieve!
    The Wild Rose Press

  2. I enter contests for one main reason -- captive audience. You know that the title you enter will be read by X number of people (so long as they are honestly doing their job properly). That is X number of readers you didn't have before.

    Even if you don't win the contest, you may win new readers who will then recommend your book to their friends. Word of mouth advertising is the best type of advertising and usually the most effective.

    This past year I judged two contests -- RITAs and Prisms. I picked up 5 new authors that I had never read before thanks to the experience. That's five out of twelve authors.

    As well, for the contest I finaled in, I'm tempted to read the other titles that finaled to see how they compare to mine.

    I look at it as a form of direct advertising. If I final or win, that's just the cherry on top. :)

    ~ Renee
    D. Renee Bagby
    Building New Realms of Passion
    Zenobia Renquist
    Discover Different and Unique Romance

  3. I've judged a few contests and enjoyed the process. I try to offer both help to avoid the pitfalls I stumbled into as a new writer and encouragement that we all need. I try to be part cheerleader and part teacher and part judge. I've also entered a few contests--and pulled back a bloody stump. Not all judges are gentle; some go for the jugular. One judge may give me a perfect score and another all but say I have zero talent. Same contest, same entry. I enter perhaps one a year. My thin skin can't handle much more.

  4. I don't enter. Whether it's RWA or not, actually.
    I dropped my RWA membership over 10 years ago, and I can honestly say, I haven't missed it. I can spend my money on other, more beneficial things. RWA has never done anything for me, and in 10 years, nothing has really changed in terms of ebook authors -- so I'm not even tempted.
    I'm not in the US, I don't have any "local" chapters I could go to.
    I entered a few in the past, and like Vonnie, I my scores ran the gambit from top marks to rock bottom -- in the same contest.
    Most of the time I get nothing out of it, because there are only very few judges who justify their scores with feedback -- and to me that's more important than the score.
    I judge in several non RWA contests, and I always *always* make extensive notes and give as much explanation and feedback as I can. I feel it's only fair to justify my marks, good and bad, because the authors are paying an entry fee and put their heart into a story.
    I'm afraid I feel a bit "meh" every time I get an entry back which tells me I have 4 out of 5 for plot -- but with no explanation of why it's a 4. To me, that's important.
    A contest is only as good as the judges, whether it's an RWA judged one, or not.

  5. I must admit, the difference in scores for the same entry can be infuriating! How does that work out? I know judging is subjective but some of the differences are so vast you wonder if your entry got mixed up with another, lol!

    Whether we enter them or not, I do see the good in these contests and if nothing else, it's a chance to get in front of a sought after editor if you haven't managed to secure an agent yet.

    Out of interest, Silke, where are you? i'm in the UK!

    R x

  6. The only contest I enter my books in is EPIC's, and I joined originally to get a discount. I've stayed for the author-support and the comraderie. It keeps me feeling like I'm a part of something as a published author. And I judge in the contest, to help out with an extra pair of eyes. Since I've never even placed, I see my money as a donation to a group I believe in. But there's always the hope that this might be MY year!

  7. I have to admit I don't enter, mainly because I'm cheap. lol I can't afford to spend that kind of money in the first place, but really, the only reason I would send to a contest would be to catch an editor's attention and I can do that all by myself. At this point, I can't see what they would give me that a good CP couldn't. I don't even belong to RWA for nearly the exact reason--I can't see what exactly they're giving me for spending that kind of money. So far I've been able to do everything else myself.