Monday, 14 October 2013

Inbox stalking? Must be competition season

Autumn, in the category romance world, is competition time and over 600 hopeful and very brave writers are right now constantly refreshing their email hoping to receive the email telling them they have one of the coveted fifty finalists spots in Harlequin/Mills & Boon's SYTCW competition.
I know exactly how they feel. 
In 2010 I enthusiastically and rather naively entered the first New Voices competition with my third attempt at a historical romance. I had done my research, had a hook, a conflict, a really long first scene full of description and no dialogue. I was honestly crushed when I didn't final. Crushed.
And then I picked myself up. I found Crit Partners, read craft books, went on a course, joined a professional organisation and, crucially, finished two manuscripts. I was ready for New Voices 11.
But the long hoped for email didn't arrive no matter how much I checked my phone.
And I checked a lot.
That stung. But eventually,  after a little wound licking,  I picked myself up, turned the chapter into a full manuscript and rewrote that first chapter at least six times. At least...
My aptly titled wonderland dress
And last year I plunged into a third competition. This was a public vote competition and I didn't think I would final but that was okay, I knew that the editors would call in any other chapters they liked. That was my goal. 
But they didn't contact me. 
I felt like I'd failed. Three competitions zilch interest. But I did have three finished manuscripts two of which I rather liked (let's never mention the third).
And so I looked at other ways to get them in front of the editors. I used one to ones, fast tracks and the opportunities RNA membership gave me. And eventually I had two full manuscripts in front of editors - and they both sold.
The second manuscript is a much revised version of both my NV11 and SYTYCW entry. It didn't final, and that's okay. I worked extra hard to make sure that the final manuscript I submitted was as good as it could be. 
So if you're refreshing your inbox right now, good luck! And remember, competitions are a brilliant way to get your name and writing out there, to get some feedback, to make some contacts. Competitions are great, I love them. But they're not the only way to reach your goal.

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