A few months ago, I began another writing contest journey. This contest, for young adult novels, consisted of three rounds of competition. Round one was the qualifier. Round two was the semi finals and round three was the finals. While I successfully made it to the finals, I’m sure you can tell by the title of this blog that I wasn’t the winner.
To be honest, I’m not surprised I didn’t win. In the last several years, I’ve entered a number of writing contests which I have yet to win. I should qualify that by saying my second novel, Extraordinary Will, was the 2009 Reader View’s Literary Award winner in the romantic fiction category. That being said, I’m not sure literary awards and writing contests can be lumped into the same category, but I suppose that’s a matter of opinion. In my history of contest entries, I’ve had some close calls. I’ve made it through many layers of different contests, but I can’t quite seem to break that glass ceiling to be crowned the winner.
Whether or not contests actually help a writing career is again another subjective matter. Given that I don’t personally know any literary agents, I don’t know if these types of credentials are better than no credentials at all. I’m quite certain that without a good hook in the query letter, the credentials don’t make a lick of difference. What constitutes a good query letter is a discussion for another time, but I’m ashamed to admit I’ve turned out some terrible ones in my day.
When I send my books to reviewers, I include a brochure in my media kit listing all of my positive contest achievements. For fun, I thought I’d list them here, and yes this list includes my recent contest outcome: 2011 Finalist- The Gatekeeper Post Young Adult Novel Contest, 2010 Quarter Finalist-Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards, 2009 Reader View’s Literary Award Winner, 2008 Semi-Finalist- Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards and 2005 Writer’s Digest Award winner.
Is that an impressive looking list or what? Of course I’m kidding, but I do hope it sways agents and reviewers when considering my work. I also use this list of accomplishments to remind myself that I do have some measure of talent, which motivates me not to give up. This is particularly important on days like today when I’m reflecting on yet another contest loss.
Another contest has come and gone without a victory. Does it make me a bad writer? I think not or I wouldn’t have made it this far. I could chalk up to the old cliché: always the bridesmaid and never the bride. I don’t think I will though. I think I’ll add it to my growing list of accomplishments and be proud of what I’ve achieved thus far.