And the Winner is…Not Me

If you’ve ever entered a writing contest, please raise your hand.

17507347 - young pretty woman hands up raised arms, screaming yelling isolated on a white background*Raises hand.

I have a secret to tell you. Well, it’s not really a secret, it’s more like advice for staying sane if you have ever entered a writing contest–Unpublished or Published.

Winning/Placing/Losing…never even coming close to any of the first two (raises both my hands like this chic in the picture) has no bearing on whether you can write well. It has no bearing on whether you will be published. It has no bearing on whether you will sell millions of copies of your books some day.

It’s a contest. Judged by humans. Humans who have their own tastes. And their own bias. It’s all subjective.

That being said, if you don’t have the absolute basic writing skills (grammar, punctuation… read this post).

IF YOU HAVE won or placed, I’m NOT taking anything away from you!! That is awesome!! You should be very proud! Because it takes a kick ass story and kick ass writing to be selected as a finalist or winner. That means multiple people thought your book rocked! And you deserve to feel proud and happy. I’ll take you out for a drink because I am happy for you.

13414384 - man holding a champion golden trophy on white background

This is for the rest of us…the ones who haven’t (ever) placed or won. (still raising my hand). I don’t want anyone to think a contest is all or nothing. If you win you are guaranteed to get picked up by an agent or editor. If you don’t even place you will never be published. Ever!

It doesn’t work that way.

Contest judging is subjective, just like what a publisher or agent likes/wants is subjective. Maybe you wrote the BEST DAMN dystopian Young Adult book that was ever written, but dystopian isn’t selling right now…so you may not get that book published right now.

Shelve it. Keep it for later. Work on something else. It’s not necessarily bad writing or bad story. It’s just not right for right now.

Maybe, like me…your books really suck monkeys in contests. I’ve never placed in a contest for unpublished authors. I never placed in a contest for published authors.

But my book sold to the second editor who requested it. And it was my dream editor. I’m not bragging. I’m just telling you to KEEP YOUR HEAD up. Work on your craft. Keep submitting!

Don’t be too hard on yourself. Be proud! A contest win or final is an awesome designation to have under your belt!! Congrats!! If you win or final, and you don’t sell right away, it’s okay.

You will get there!! Keep trying. Keep entering! Keep getting better. 🙂

Sophia Henry writes Heartfelt Flirty Fiction featuring hot, hockey-playing heroes. DELAYED PENALTY and POWER PLAY, the first two books in the Pilots Hockey series from Random House Flirt, are available now at all major e-book retailers.

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