Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Going for It My Way

This year I made the decision to rededicate myself to writing what I wanted to write the way I wanted to write it. I was not going to submit my work to countless agents and publishers. Why should I when I have a small but loyal following of readers who like my work just the way it is and self-publishing is easier and more accepted than ever?

Along with this decision, I debated whether or not I was going to enter any writing contests. I’ve done countless writing contests over the years. Though I’ve never been that grand prize winner, I’ve had some respectable placements that looked nice on my query letters to agents and publishers. Given that I made this grand decision not to look for an agent or publisher, I had to ask myself what the point of pursuing more contest entries was. Ultimately I decided there wasn’t one.

For the most part, I’ve had no problem avoiding the writing contests. Okay, I’ve had one problem. Every time I get that email notification of a new contest opening, I have to resist the urge to start polishing off what I think would be an appropriate entry. Other than that, I’ve had no problems. Okay, that’s not entirely true either.

If you’ve been following my Twitter feeds (and if you’re not, you should be!) then you know I’ve been waffling over whether or not to enter the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards this year. As far as writing contests go, this is one of the better ones. It’s easy to enter and can net some good exposure even for the writers who don’t win. Best of all, there’s no entry fee.

If you’re not familiar with the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards, it’s an annual contest that allows both unpublished and self-published writers to enter one manuscript for consideration. There are five categories for entry: General Fiction, Romance, Mystery/Thriller, Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror and Young Adult Fiction. One Grand Prize winner receives a publishing contract with a $50,000 advance, and four First Prize winners are awarded a publishing contract and a $15,000 advance.

As the old and somewhat odd saying goes, that’s nothing to sneeze at. The odds of winning are debatable. I’m not good at statistics, but there are some past participants who insist that judging is biased and not representative of a writer’s ability to sell given that initial judging is based on the opinion of only two people who must reach the identical conclusion as to the writer’s talents.

Politics and personal feelings aside, the question left to me this year was whether or not I was going to enter. I had a manuscript ready that I felt was somewhat decent and might be well received. So, I had to ask myself, did I want to go through the trouble of uploading it or forego the contest.

The contest opened on Sunday, February 17th. In the end, after much waffling, this is what I’ve come up with; why not go for it but go for it my way? So I’m going for it, but I am not going to be as emotionally invested in the past. I’m not going to obsessively refresh my email the day the notifications of the winners are supposed to be sent. I’m going to continue writing other manuscripts and have a good time doing so.

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