Thursday, June 9, 2011

Guest Blogger: Raquel Byrnes

I have a special treat for you today. Raquel Byrnes is stopping by on her blog tour to discuss why you should enter a writing contest. Raquel is celebrating the June 3rd release of her book, Purple Knot.

Why You Should Enter a Writing Contest
If you aren’t an active part of a critique group or have some Beta readers giving you feedback on your manuscript, assessing how you’re growing as a writer can be difficult. One of the best ways to do this is by entering a writing contest. Now, it may seem intimidating, but here are three reasons why you should go ahead and fill out that entry form.
• It will help you learn to follow directions. This may seem like a little thing, but it is surprising how many people burn an opportunity with an agent or editor simply because they didn’t check the submission requirements. Check them. Follow them to the letter. To. The. Letter. A contest, much like submitting a query, is a winnowing process and you don’t want to end up on the threshing floor before they even read your story.

• You learn to work with a deadline. All contests have a date at which submissions are no longer accepted. Writing to deadline is something that you will eventually have to do and learning how you deal with this during a contest is a lot better than freaking out when an agent gives you one. Do you need to get more organized? Do you need specific writing times to be productive? A contest deadline will reveal how you work under pressure.

• You learn how to take critique. Even if you blow them out of the water and final on your first try, you will get back suggestions for improvement. Taking criticism graciously is an essential part of being a writer. Learn how you handle it from a contest and you can be sure you won’t break down later on when dealing with a publishing editor. Do you argue? Do you get hurt? Do you throw up your hands and walk away or buckle down and improve? Contests can help you see how you deal with this.

There are a lot of inexpensive contests out there with wonderful professionals willing to look over your first 50 pages and give you honest feedback. The types of contests available span the genres, from romance to flash fiction, there’s something out there for your style and story.
Many writers’ guilds offer contests as well as their local chapters. Romance Writers of America and Writer’s Digest Magazine both have excellent opportunities to get your work in front of professionals. Take care to enter contests that only charge a nominal fee. Around thirty-five dollars is the norm. Anything that charges a hefty entrants price may not be reputable.
Contests can be exciting and helpful if you enter them with the right attitude. Who knows, you might take the trophy.

Thanks, Raquel! I'm not one to enter contests usually, but Raquel's certainly given me some good reasons to start! Do you enter writing contests? Why or why not?

And be sure to stop by Raquel's blog and tell her congratulations on Purple Knot's release!


L. Diane Wolfe said...

Learning to follow directions is so important!

Old Kitty said...

Oh I enter them constantly!! If anything they teach me to handle rejection!! Yay!

But sometimes I strike lucky - so yes - it's definitey worth doing!! Thank you Susan and Raquel for this fab blog post! Take care

Brian said...

Thanks so much to Raquel for sharing this insight with all of us!

DEZMOND said...

oooh, we love love Raquel, she is such a nice person!

Joanne said...

Thanks Raquel, wise advice here. I don't generally enter contests, but do submit to literary journals on occasion. The editors often give a little helpful feedback there, too.

TerryLynnJohnson said...

Great advice here! I have had some luck with contests.
Thanks, Sue, for hosting another fab author.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I've not entered any contests, but I have gotten good at taking critiques!

Anonymous said...

I haven't entered any contests, but maybe I should start!

notesfromnadir said...

I like your purple background!

While I haven't entered any contests recently, I agree w/ the read & follow those rules! I know writers are naturally creative, but when they start revising the rules they can eliminate themselves from a contest.

Margo Benson said...

I'm gearing up to enter contests - so far the timing hasn't been right for what I have available but the more I write, the sooner that shouldn't be an issue!
Thank you for another really helpful post.

Raquel Byrnes said...

Diane - I agree. Its something that really helps in the long run.

Kitty - Good for you! That attitude is going to take you far.

Brian - Thanks...I hope you found the post helpful.

Dezmond - *blushes* Thank you so much!

Joanne - Ooh, that's interesting. I'll have to look into that.

Terry - Isn't Susan so great to authors?

Alex - Yikes...critiques do take getting used to. Good for you! It shows...CassaStar is awesome.

Madeline - Go for it!

Nadir - You are so right.

Margo - Best of luck...I think you'll do great.

Susan - What an amazing job you did on this post. Thank you so much for hosting me!

Talli Roland said...

Yay! Big congrats to Raquel. Fab advice!

Jemi Fraser said...

Congrats to Raquel - LOVE the title :)

I haven't entered any contests yet, but I'm certainly not ruling it out!

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

Great advice, Raquel! I've entered a couple contests...I love the ones that give you feedback.

I've got my fingers crossed for the Children's Writer kindergarten story I entered this spring. The results come out next month. :)

One of Susan's and my critique partners won the Highlight's writing contest in 2008. She also placed in Cicada's international contest this year. (Yay, Rhonda!)

Carolina Valdez Miller said...

I think writing contests can definitely be beneficial. I've never entered one myself, but I've had friends do well with them. Great post!

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I entered one, but won't do that again. I entered to get feedback (not to win), but by the time I received the feedback, I had done massive rewrites (which included theme and internal motivation, and moving a later scene to the first chapter) due to feedback from a beta reader. The feedback from the contest was so grossly out of date (even the mc's attidude had changed), there was no point in reading it. I will eventually, but there's no rush.

A friend was a judge in one. But they had her judging YA. She doesn't write YA, and even though she reads some, she wasn't really qualified to judge the entries. Same deal happened to me. I was sent enteries for contemporary romance (which I don't read). I had to tell the organizers that it was impossible for me to judge them.

If I enter one again, it will be closer to when I plan to query the novel. The one I entered sounded great, but in retrospect, I should have saved my money and waited. I was new to the concept of the contests, and didn't realize how frequent they are. Wait a month, and there's a new one looking for enteries.

Carol Riggs said...

Thanks for the great summary! I've entered contest before, and they're great. Having feedback is really nice, an extra bonus. A lot of the "winning" is subjective though. Good practice for getting a tough skin for rejection. :)

Trisha said...

Raquel is great!! WOOOO! :)

I really need to enter more contests...........

Anonymous said...

Its nice to meet you Raquel. I entered one contest and was bumped in the first round. But I should enter more since I have a new book coming out.

Raquel Byrnes said...

Talli - Aww...thanks!

Jemi - You should give it a whirl.

Sharon - Good luck with Children's Writer.

Carolina - Thank you. :)

Stina - It seems like your plan to enter closer to the query date is a good idea.

Carol - I hear ya... tough skin is hard to come by.

Trisha - LOL! Thank you! And good luck.

Stephen - I hope you received some helpful feedback.

Thank you all for stopping by and and huge HUG to Susan for hosting me! <3

Lynda R Young said...

Congrats on the release of Purple Knot.
Great post too. I hadn't considered all that about contests. I usually think to myself, I don't have time. Sounds like it's worth making time though.

Deniz Bevan said...

Thanks Raquel! I don't usually enter contests as I rarely seem to have anything that meets the criteria ready by the deadline, but if I ever finish editing my current novel I'd like to try for the Golden Heart!

The Golden Eagle said...

I haven't entered many contests--and nothing that really ended up in a critique. They do sound like a good way of finding out about the things that need to be worked on in your writing, though!

Connie Arnold said...

Thanks for sharing your advice about entering contests. I haven't done that, but your points are compelling, Raquel! Susan, thank you for posting this.

Len Lambert said...

I've entered once and I think I will send more entries. :)

Theresa Milstein said...

I think writing contests are good for developing thicker skin. I've only done free ones. And I also have critique partners. I think we need both.

Julie Musil said...

When I first started writing, I entered a couple of contests and even won one! It gave me the boost I needed to keep writing.

Raquel and Susan, thanks for the great post!

Nas Dean said...

Hi raquel, Hello Susan!

Thanks so much Raquel, for sharing this insight with all of us!

Cinders said...

Interesting post. I've entered a few writing contests. I won an honorable mention from Writer's Digest for short fiction a few years ago. I find it hard to find free contests. Maybe I don't know where to look.