Sunday, January 17, 2010

Contests in your query

I'm paddling around in the sea of incoming queries today and I've noticed many of you have been busy entering contests.

That is a good thing.

Don't tell me about it.

Particularly don't tell me about it if you not only didn't win, you didn't make the finals or the short list. Same for prizes at your school.

It doesn't help you to tell me that 25 people finished ahead of you.

Writing contests don't mean much anyway, from my standpoint, but mentioning them without the qualifier "I won" means I know you didn't. You're essentially saying "I entered and lost." You can see how that doesn't entice me to read it, right?

Just leave it out of your query. Put it on your website or your blog. Mention it in your Christmas card dispatches. Twitter it to your friends and family. Not your query.

17 comments:

Shelby said...

Ok. But I wouldn't do that anyway.

Partly - because I didn't win or even almost win, anything. Yet.

But mostly - because I know that's crazy.

'scuse me a minute while I go edit my query letter...

Steena Holmes said...

Hmm, but mentioning a winning contest from 5 yrs ago that resulted in having your book published would be ok and essential - right?

Linda Rader said...

Seems like common sense to me.

Corra McFeydon said...

Thanks for the warning! :)

Marsha Sigman said...

Why would someone put that in a query if they lost?

Maybe they were trying to say they learned from the experience.

Was it signed 'Loser'?

Arthur Willoughby said...

Amazes me that this even needed to be written.

Josin L. McQuein said...

I wonder if this is happening a lot or if there's one group of people making the rounds right now. I saw a similar post from another agent this month saying that a ton of people had mentioned making the "semi-finals" in a particular contest. Apparently almost everyone made the semi-finals in that contest and all pointing it out did was make the agent think "Not good enough" from the start.

Sharon Mayhew said...

LOL...

Paul Neuhardt said...

Okay, I could have guessed that I shouldn't include that little tidbit in my letter.

Suppose I have had a play or two produced, or selected as a winner in a contest? Should I include that?

Probably a question asked out of ignorance, I know, but hopefully not out of gross stupidity.

lora96 said...

Thanks for the tip, although I thought it would be kinda obvious. Clearly if I am querying, you will be neither the first nor last qualified professional to tell me I suck. Mentioning that a judging panel or review board concurred and used my manuscript for scrap paper or a coaster would seem counterproductive. Unless I were trying to sell it to you as a coaster, obviously.

Jennifer said...

I could understand the logic of a person thinking it's an accomplishment even if they didn't win. For instance, if I was up against a field of two hundred people and you come in fifth, that's something I'd be proud of. Add to that many people believing they need *some* sort of writing qualifications to get anywhere and people get desperate to put anything down.

Not saying I think it's a good idea, just that I can see how a person might think it should be included. It's good to have advice like this out there, though...one has to wonder if the people making these mistakes are actually doing enough research to find it. This is the kind of thing I might have once done, but after months of reading industry blogs and advice, I'd definitely know better.

Furious D said...

Should I mention the time I won the Nobel Prize for Science, for my invention of Time Travel?

It technically hasn't happened yet for everyone else though, which does complicate things.

;)

Ronda Laveen said...

Crikey! Well, I guess professionalism needs to be cultivated in some cases.

Rachel said...

hahahahahaha

Anita Saxena said...

That seems like common sense =)

Tanvi said...

Er. That is not a smart move, I conclude.
WHY would anyone do that?!

L. T. Host said...

I'll go ahead and say... whoops. Thanks for tolerating it anyhow :)