Thursday, April 25, 2013

Thursday Elevenses at the Question Emporium: contests

I just read about a Women's Novel competition for unpublished female authors (that's me). And I was wondering if it was acceptable to query an agent if I've already entered my manuscript in the competition?

Or should I enter my novel in the competition, and then wait and see if I make the short list before querying an agent?

Or should I query a few agents, and if those are unsuccessful, then enter it in the competition?

I'm a big fan of contests. Good ones, not the scammy kinds. And by good ones, I mean contests that are run by real publishers or organizations, don't cost a fortune to enter, don't have a gazillion categories, and the previous winners include some names you recognize.

My favorite contest is the William F. Deeck Malice Domestic Unpublished Manuscript contest because that's where I found Stephanie Jaye Evans and her wonderful Sugar Land mystery series.  (Yes it is true I vaulted over a table and stepped on Charlaine Harris' toes to reach Stephanie before anyone else did.   I regret nothing!)

If this contest looks legit, enter.

But do keep querying.  If you win, someone might vault over the table to sign you up.  


Colin Smith said...

I'm really glad you were on fine vaulting form that day, Janet. Stephanie's books are so good! :)

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Ha, contests love‘em.

I have entered the WD prompt contest a bazillion times. Gave one of my awesome entries to my daughter to read, to get her opinion, she’s smart and was going for her second Master’s Degree in something-or-other. Actually I was showing off, wanted my kid to know what a brilliant (and humble) fiction writer I am. She loved the story and asked if she could enter the contest.
She had never entered before, never even written fiction.
“Go for it”, I said. She didn’t have a chance. I was hoping my winning entry wouldn’t upset her and make her feel her talent was in any way inferior to mine.
Out of almost 1000 entries, she came in second. I have never been happier for anyone else in my entire life. I don’t even remember who won; all I know wasn’t me. I never entered the contest again. She hasn’t either. She has not written a single word of fiction since.
Me? I'm still querying my women's fiction. Go figure.

Anonymous said...

Shark vaulting...I got a visual of an Orca flying out of the air to grab a little seal. Yikes.

Anonymous said...

The Malice Domestic contest sounds great, but is specific to the traditional mystery genre.

"Awww...dalmations only."

Bonnie Shaljean said...

I deleted my post above because it wasn't very clear (typing one-handed on an iPad in the dark when you're supposed to be sleeping didn't help either). But it's something I've been wondering about with regard to querying and contests which accept unpublished manuscripts, so I'm trying again.

If you've submitted a ms. to such a competition, and you then query an agent with that same project before the results are known, and the agent takes it on, would she then wait to see if it wins (which would give her added bargaining clout)? Janet says to keep querying, but what happens with regard to the contest? If a publisher buys the book in the meantime, presumably it's then no longer "unpublished" so it could get disqualified (which could mean losing out on a chance of a decent cash prize as well as prestige).

How does the "wait and see" factor sit with regard to agents? Or does it? Do they ever hang on until competition results are announced before trying to market a novel?