Sunday, May 24, 2009

Contest Tips

Since we have so many contests coming up in June, I thought it would be appropriate to post few tips for entering contests.

1) Choose a contest that’s appropriate for your genre. For example, if you write for the Christian market, you may not want to enter a contest that doesn't have an inspirational category.
2) Hook ‘em from the get-go. The first sentence of your manuscript must shine. It should jump off the page and make the judges long to read more.
3) Read and follow all guidelines. Points will be deducted from your score if you don't follow the proper format. For example, some contests may require 3,000 words and some may request 5,000 words.
4) Consider the final judge. Is this person an editor who has already seen your manuscript and turned it down? An editor who works for a publishing company who you'd want to review your manuscript? An agent you’d like to land?
5) Have a friend or critique partner proofread your entry. If you don’t have a critique partner, now would be a good time to find one. Friends and family mean well, but they’re prone to be nice when what we need is a brutal critique by someone who know the mechanics of writing.
6) Review the score sheet before submitting your entry. This will give you an idea of what the judges are looking for. One problem I’ve had with an entry of mine that’s making the contest circuit is that sparks don’t fly between my hero and heroine soon enough. They meet in the first chapter, but my heroine is too upset at being booked into jail to really notice him. She’s so caught up in her own problems that she’s not drawn to him as she would be in other situations. This has given me a low score in this section of the score sheet.
7) If you’ve entered a snail mail contest, spend the extra postage in order to get your entry returned to you so that you can review judge’s scores.
8) Enter electronically when possible in order to save money on paper, ink and postage.

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