Friday, August 25, 2006

On Writing Contests

I have a competitive side. Under my quiet, nerdy exterior, there is a person who loves the thrill of victory. Like most people, I hate to lose. So I have to pick my battles wisely. Not too long ago, I found a great outlet for my competitiveness: writing contests.

I never thought about entering a writing contest until my Fairy God Mentor (see previous post) encouraged me to enter one. My partner and I worked on a flash fiction entry for one of's themed contests. Since it was a short piece, I didn’t think it would take long to finish. Yet, we spent a lot of time and energy on it. We exchanged emails, edited, revised, and fine-tuned.

We sent our joint entry, and we each sent two individual entries. I was certain one of our entries would receive at least an Honorable Mention. I thought our joint entry could take first place. My partner warned me not to get my hopes up. I didn't listen. When the results were announced, I looked for our names. Nothing.

I was crushed. Devastated. I emailed my partner to express my disappointment. He told me not to take it seriously. It was a valuable experience, and we could still find new markets for our stories. After stewing for a few days, I got over it.

I realized he was right. The contest was a great writing experience. It gave me the motivation to focus on a particular theme. I read past entries, and I wrote the best story I could. After writing, I took the time to carefully edit and make sure the story was perfect. At least in my eyes. Afterwards I had a story that I could send to another publication.

After that experience, I entered two more erotic writing contests. I was one of 15 winners in one contest. In the other contest, I wasn't in the top three. However, I did receive a request to read the entire manuscript. Both contests have lead to publishing contracts with 1) Forbidden Publications and 2) Liquid Silver Books.

If you haven't entered a writing contest yet, I encourage you to try it. Even if you're not a competitive person, you will feel that desire to be the best. You might win; you might not. At the very least, you will have a story, novella, or novel that is good enough to submit to a publisher. That's as good as gold.

Kis Lee


Anonymous said...

I find contests useful for setting deadlines. I'm good with external deadlines, internal ones not so much. And even though the decision to enter a contest is a sort of internal deadline, I view it as external, and it gets me to finish the story.

So, contests can definitely be good, as long as they're not (like posting on-line) procrastination on the WIP.

Barrie Abalard said...

I've entered very few RWA contests, mostly because my work tends to elicit strong comments, both positive and negative. That, plus the erratic judging I've seen in some contests, keep me from plunking down money for them. I know I'm never going to final, so I don't want to spend time and money on RWA contests.

OTOH, if we're talking about contests with a particular publisher with no entry fee and publication as the prize, those I love. After all, it was a win with Amber Quill Press that got me started earlier this year.


Kis Lee said...

I especially like the no entry free + publication as prize contests. So far I've only entered contests without an entry fee.

veinglory said...

I've never tries a contest yet--are there any that people particulalry recommend? Esp. those open to m/m

Kis Lee said...

Emily, I was on the Erotica Readers & Writers Assoc site and saw this contest from Torquere Press:

it's open between Sept 1-20.