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 The third judge is an unpublished author and they give you very, very low scores.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 When you enter a contest and another unpublished author rips apart your writing, well, it isn’t worth the extra worries.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!