If you remember, I made a promise to myself in January when I began this blog - to submit to at least one contest per month. I have been on target thus far, and if I do say so myself, I have been doing a great job. Every time I get the results, I am reminded why I write - because I love it. I enjoy creating new worlds and characters. I enjoy telling their stories.
Contests are a wonderful vehicle to fix what needs fixing before I send my manuscripts off to an editor or agent. I am of the mind to not send anything in unless it is finished. I just don't want to be in the position of getting "the call" and not having a completed manuscript to send off straight-away. If there is one thing I have learned from the contests it's that there are many opinions out there. Just like there are many different editors and agents, readers' opinions differ greatly. But when you enter a contest you can learn how to make your manuscript stronger, more cohesive, and most of all - more appealing to the audience you seek.
At first, contests scared me. I was afraid to read what was written about my manuscripts. What I learned was the judges were just like me - authors. Some were published and some were not, but one thing we all had in common - writing the best novel we could. When they read my novel, they are looking at it with a critical eye to help me become published. When I read "I can't wait to read this some day" I am filled with pride over all the hard work.
A few times I have read the following comment - "publishable as is". Once or twice, I have read "needs a bit of polishing first". No matter what the final comments, I know the judge has given up their valuable time to read my manuscript and give me advice. They are not doing it out of malice or jealousy but out of the desire to help me. Trust me, I am more than grateful for the help.
Here's my question to you - what was the most valuable advice your received after entering a contest?