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Friday, November 5, 2010

TOPIC: Do you have a full manuscript ready to enter the RWOz Emerald contest?

It's that time of year again, contest divas! The RWOz Emerald contest for unpublished authors is just around the corner.

For anyone who's a member of RWOz, it's the major contest for anyone who writes category or single title romance. So, I hope you've polished and edited your manuscripts because The Emmy wants you!!!

The whole contest is designed to mirror the submission process an author goes through when sending off their work to agents or publishing houses. The first two rounds are scored and judged by readers, while the final round is read by an acquiring editor from a major publishing house.

Round 1 - the first 18pgs of your manuscript in ARC format
Round 2 - submit the full manuscript
Round 3 - full manuscript goes to an editor for final placement

# Closing date for Round 1 is Friday, 12th November.

Places are award for the separate category and single title sections but results aren't announced until the August RWA conference (in Melbourne 2011).

So, what's so good about entering the Emerald? Check out what previous entrants and place-getters have said about their experiences...

"The Emerald was great for my writing journey in several ways. Firstly, it gave me deadlines to work to, which provided structure to my writing year. It also gave me really interesting feedback, because it came from readers - the people we're writing for. And not just on the first 3 chapters - they could tell me what they thought of the whole manuscript, all the way to the Happily Ever After. Both wins also started dialogues for me with editors, not for the line I eventually sold to, but fabulous feedback and experience.
Such a great contest and resource for writers!"
(Rachel Bailey)

"Finalling - and then having to finish the ms that I'd supposedly finished before entering within 10 days really made me focus!
Although that book wasn't the one that got me published (and I do hope to have it pubbed someday soon) :-) it gave me the kudos to be headhunted to do a Masters in Writing at Qld. University of Technology. That was a huge ego boost and validation that what I was writing wasn't complete crap (which I suspect just about every writer wonders about from time to time).
I really appreciated the feedback I got from the Emerald. It's a great contest."

"Where do I start? :-) This was great for me as an entrant, because it gave me a taste of the publishing world : mainly, writing to a deadline, which is probably one of the most important abilities for a published author (other than producing a saleable manuscript!) And of course, a chance to hit an acquiring editor's desk.
I was thrilled when I finalled and could tell the editor that the first chapter of that same ms was on one of her assistant's TBR pile due to another RWA comp. So the Emerald helped by giving me a deadline to work to, plus impetus to actually finish a complete manuscript (before then, I'd been writing 3
chapters max.)."
(Paula Roe)

"The very first contest I entered was the Emma Darcy which, like the Emerald, was for completed manuscripts. It was life changing. Someone other than my beautifully biased husband and family had connected with my story, my characters, my voice. Wow! I finalled in that contest - very powerful motivation that sustained me when rejection letters from publishers started turning up... 
Subsequent Emerald feedback helped me learn my craft. Yes, criticism can sting, but if you look back at it in a couple of weeks there will be kernels of truth. If two or more judges have identified the same thing, chances are they're right... The Emerald gives you a goal to aim for during the year. It gives you a taste of the submission process you'll spend your writing life following. Most importantly it gives you an anonymous audience who will give you genuine unbiased feedback! So get writing and good luck." :-) (Helene Young)

"I love entering the Emerald because the judges are readers, rather than contest judges who are writers. Readers, even in the first round, give you a different insight into whether the book is a good read or not, and if they enjoy your characters and your plot, rather than getting bogged down on writing type details. Readers give an overall perspective on how well a story might do on a published market. 
If theses judges say they want to read more, you know you've hooked their interest and are on the right track. If they say they were bored to tears, you know to cut out backstory and increase the conflict and drama. Then, if you' re lucky enough to make it into the second round, Emerald judges comment on the completed book, which is truly rare in contest circles.
The author then knows if the conflict is strong enough and the story arc complete enough, to hold a readers interest and make the book ready for submission to agents or editors. But either way, it makes you push yourself to write, edit, and polish an entire book, not simply the opening chapters."
(Suzi Love)

"The Emerald Contest is the successor to the wonderful Emma Darcy Award, which I won in 2005, the last year of the contest. I withdrew from the 2006 Emerald because I'd sold my book - a nice reason! I know as an unpublished writer, it was often difficult for me to soldier through and finish a manuscript. I still have numerous 'stumps' under the bed, stories I started with great enthusiasm and then decided weren't viable. So I'd start something else and then decide it wasn't viable either. Repeat ad-infinitum!
Having a contest that gets people to struggle through the doldrums of a manuscript and reach those magical words 'the end' is really great. There's so much you learn from finishing a complete manuscript that you can't learn from starting 100 that you don't complete. Winning or finalling in a contest like the Emerald or the Emma Darcy is a great calling card too when you approach editors or publishers!"
(Anna Campbell)

So, what are you waiting for? Get those manuscripts out and send them off.

* Entry forms and details on how to enter can be found on the Contest page of the RWAustralia website.

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