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Monday, October 24, 2011

Entering Contests

Maggie and the First Grade Blues has won three picture book awards.  That said, you’d think I’d have editors knocking down my door to publish my book.  Not so.  It takes more than winning writing contests to get a picture book published—it takes a lot of love.

This is what I recently discovered after attending Editor’s Day in Lexington, Kentucky and WriteOnCon online.  An editor has got to go gaga about a book if she wants to publish it.  She’s got to love it so much it pierces her heart.  It’s the kind of love that impels her to gush about it to everyone she knows.  If she is not passionate about it, she won’t recommend it to the acquisitions team, no matter how many awards it’s won.

At first, I felt discouraged.  Why bother to enter contests if a manuscript fails to interest editors?  But then I realized there are many advantages.  Here are a few benefits to entering contests:  

Offers writers a challenge
Encourages writers to create an outstanding piece
Puts a writer’s work before a judge
Requires a writer to follow the guidelines
Can build a writer’s resume

These five benefits may prepare you before submitting your work to editors.  So what are you waiting for? 

Look online or in writer’s magazines for a listing of contests.  Search for a contest that charges a small fee, something like twenty-five dollars or less. Find a contest with a deadline that is far enough in advance so that it allows you time to perfect your work.  Then, go to it.  Strive to write an  exceptional piece or edit another one you have in the works.  Have a trusted friend read your work to guarantee it is free of grammar mistakes.  Double check those contest guidelines. Submit your entry. 

Consider submitting to more than one contest.  Enter the same manuscript or create a different piece.  Regardless of the result, know that you’ve accomplished an important goal that will help you in the future.  One day your manuscript just may capture an award and quite possibly, capture the heart of an editor.

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