I was so busy with writing and life I honestly didn't think about the Genesis contest until last week when the announcements for the semi finalists overflowed my FB newsfeed.
The Daphe, Olympia, and other writing contests are announcing winners and distributing judges sheets about now, too. Hopefully, you have received yours.
Messages of congratulations to those who placed flooded all forms of social media. I saw friends on the list and sent my congratulations and best wishes to them for the next level.
One particular message on FB stood out to me. More than any other I've seen. I'll tell you about it in a minute.
Messages to those who did not place in one of the contests basically said things like:
*You'll get a turn next time.
*Use the judges comments to improve your craft.
*Contests should be used to improve our writing craft.
Yeah. Yeah. We know that, but our heart doesn't. We honestly had hoped that this time....this time we would be a semi finalists. Sigh.
Now, back to the one message that caught my attention. Jessica Keller Koschnitzky wrote: (used by permission)
A word from a writing contest loser:
The other day, good news and congratulations zinged all over my Facebook feed as the Genesis results were released. As they should. Moving forward in a contest should always be celebrated.
But I wanted to offer a word for those who weren't celebrating. Who got bad news - hard feedback. While contests are great for many things, the one thing they are not is an indicator of how successful your writing career will be.
In the three years I entered the Genesis I never got far. Know what? Every manuscript I entered went on to sell and are now published. Within the past three years, six of my books have released while some of those authors who finaled in the years my stuff went no where and are not published at all.
Contest wins are not guaranteed careers. In the big scheme of things, contests mean nothing if all you're after is a piece of paper that says a handful of judges liked your stuff best. However, contests can be powerful if you press forward and use the feedback to strengthen your work
Not knowing how many books Jessica had published, I check online. Good grief-she has six books published-five since February, 2014!
Take just a minute and reread what she wrote.
...because other published authors, including those who have had more than 100 books published, agreed and/or added their similar experience in the comment section of Jessica's post. Several even said a well-known publisher contacted them and offered a contract the same week they'd not made a contest list...for the same manuscript!
Now, a good post will swing the pendulum to adequately represent both sides of the story. Right? Ready for the swing?
The words we hate to read.
The words where we picture ourselves as the punching bag and the judge with the gloves.
Yeah. Yeah. I can't tell you how many times I have and still think that.
About four years ago, following a criticism, a judge gave me a piece of advice. I chose to be offended (bad move). BUT God never let me forget the advice. For four solid years I tried to ignore those words but would God let me--nooooo (can you see my head rolling?). Around January of this year, I stuffed my attitude on a shelf and did what that judge said. (I can be a slow learner when my attitude gets in the way.)
I hang my head before you--admitting to God and the writing community--that the judge was right.
I learned the concept in January...owned it...then went back to page one of my current manuscript and applied that one concept to every page and became so very disappointed. Heartbroken that I had not followed the advice years earlier. Why hadn't I listened?
The writing I mentioned in the beginning of this post, the one that kept me busy when the Genesis semi finalists were announced, was the rewrite of the very manuscript I submitted. In February, as I edited that manuscript, I told my family the contest entry didn't deserve to place. Not the way it was. The new version, though deserved to be submitted to an agent--because I listened.
Contests have many wonderful benefits. Don't enter to win, enter to receive feedback you might not be able to receive anywhere else. This feed back will help you win interest, agents, and hopefully publication. If you happen to place...well, that would be a win-win, right?
Let's give everyone a pat on the back today. Please choose one:
1. Tell one thing you did writing related today (wrote, planned, edited, brainstormed, researched, read a writing blog--um this one counts :) )
2. Tell one contest you placed in and what benefit you feel you received from it.
3. Share one helpful comment, link, etc. you've received from a judge....someone else just might want to improve this as well.
4. If you have a published book/s share one tip for those who hope to also have a book published.
I can't wait to read your comment!
Mary has moved to Michigan with her husband, closer to her three college kids. She misses the mountains of Montana, but loves seeing family more often. She writes young adult mystery/adventure Christian fiction, is honing marketing and writing skills, and loves to pen missionary and Bible adventure stories on her ministry blog, God Loves Kids.