The Post Too Controversial For A Title

Actually, it isn’t controversial at all. I just couldn’t think of a good title. If you were expecting something to make your blood boil, you’ve probably come to the wrong place.

This post is actually about contests. Of course, this is my opinion on contests, so it still might anger some people. If you’re a contest lover, then you might want to stick around.

When I first started writing, contests seemed like a really great idea, especially the prizes offered. A reading by an agent or editor? Sign me up! My stuff is golden! Then the results came in and they were so contradictory, I felt like my head was spinning.

Three judges. Two are published authors who think your work has a lot of potential. They give you good marks, not the best, but really good considering it’s your first contest. The third judge is an unpublished author and they give you very, very low scores. But…I don’t get it! You hated the characters? You hated the story line? The other judges didn’t say anything about that.

So who do you believe?

Well, I went through that about a dozen times and finally threw my hands up in disgust. Yes, some of the feedback I received was great and helped me a lot. However, as a budding author (unless you’re the most confident person alive), you’re going to be wary and nervous about your writing. When you enter a contest and another unpublished author rips apart your writing, well, it isn’t worth the extra worries.

Do I think some judges use contests as a way to validate their writing and how good it is? Possibly. I mean, judges are people. Does this happen in every contest? No, of course not. Am I bitter about it? Absolutely not. People are entitled to their opinions, I just don’t think I should have to pay for it when I’m hard enough on myself as it is.

Now, before you go away thinking “She is so bitter,” let me just add that I know several people who’ve entered contests and from placing, moved to mass market publishing. Contests are not a waste of time. They’re a great way to get your work in front of different people and see what they think, but you can do the same thing with beta readers and critique partners.

Treat contests like a really expensive restaurant that has great food sometimes, but terrible food at others. Treat yourself once in a while, but don’t bankrupt yourself to be there every night in the hopes the food will be fantastic.

Did that make any sense at all? Probably not. Oh, well.

This is Cajun Fox and I’m out!

About danicaavet

Danica Avet lives and writes in the wilds of South Louisiana. Unmarried with no children, she's the proud pet of two cats and a dog. With a BA in History, she decided there were enough fry cooks in the world and tried her hand at writing. Danica loves losing herself in the antics of her characters and blushes more often than not at the things they do. She likes to define her work as paranormal romance with a touch of Cajun spice, but most times her characters turn the notch up to "five-alarm fire"!
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4 Responses to The Post Too Controversial For A Title

  1. This is a great post. You and I had the same experience- the unpubbed judges were the hardest on us- wonder from that how hard they are on themselves?? I agree about the expensive restaurant analogy. Interestingly, I’ve seen some people have finaled in 16 contests with the same book- ok- do the math on that and see what their entries have cost them and they are still unpubbed as they keep entering the unpubbed contests. Yowsa!


  2. Jeff Salter says:

    You Foxes will hear more from me tomorrow, but for now let me say that anything I say could easily sound like sour grapes.
    For those talented and fortunate (few) folks who have finaled — or even won — in significant contests, obviously the contest circuit is a wonderful thing. And I sincerely do not want to take away anything from the lustre on their awards. I’m jealous — sure — but wish them the best.
    That said, I’m baffled at how anyone’s contest entry could slip through those dismissive, negative, and sometimes bristly judges whom I’ve encountered.
    Okay, I can hear the snickering. You’re thinking the judges I encountered were only negative and bristly and dismissive … because my contest entry smelled like cow dung. Well, I don’t think so. And some of the other judges obviously didn’t think so either.
    Hmm. More tomorrow.


    • I don’t think your stuff is cow dung. I think you had the same experiences Danica and I did. Strong voices cause strong opinions pro and con. That’s what I’ve been told and that’s where I’m hanging my hat.


  3. Micki Gibson says:

    Great post, Danica. (And I feel your pain on that title thing. I had a tough time coming up with mine.) Contest entries are also like diets and exercise…everything in moderation. Now, I’m off to balance my way too healthy diet for the day with a nice glass of wine…or two!


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