|RWA Valerie Parv Award|
I fall into the former category of advocates. The name "contest diva", "contest queen", or the more affectionately yet derogatory "contest sl**" was often mentioned in the same sentence as my name (*grin*). In the course of my unpublished career as a writer, I entered almost 100 contests over the nine years since tackling my first.
When considering whether or not you should enter a contest ask yourself this - why are you entering?
|RWNZ Clendon Award|
Let's consider each question.
- Feedback - entering can be a cheap way to get feedback on your work, particularly if you find a full manuscript contest that gives comments (eg. RWA Emerald Award or the RWNZ Clendon Award).
|WHRWA Emily Award|
Some writing organisations have mentoring schemes, critique groups or critique partner schemes running, so this might be another avenue for you to pursue in your quest to get feedback.
- Contest criteria - entering a specific type of contest can help your craft. I avoided entering any sort of synopses contest, purely because I hated writing them. But because it was a weakness I'd identified in my craft skills, I forced myself to enter several of these to get feedback before I sent my work out on submission.
- To final - this is a feather in any writer's cap. I used this as a benchmark to see whether I was improving in my craft but then, in the context of where I was as a writer (geography and isolation, not the level of skill) and the services I had access to this (era of time) proved to be the only option available to me to measure this. (So context is important.)
- Getting your work in front of an editor/agent - if you have the budget, you can enter as many contests as you like, and some have done this. Most writers don't have unlimited funds, so choosing which particular contest - based on reputation or final judges or specific feedback - and this may determine your decision on whether you enter or not.
|RWA Emerald Award|
- Contest resumes - racking up finalist kudos, placings or wins is certainly a way to impress potential editors and agents but it doesn't always help. Some take no notice of your achievements. I admit, one of my main goals for entering contests, in the latter part of my unpublished career, was to build a resume for each manuscript but it wasn't the only avenue I relied upon to get my work in front of editors/agents.
|RWA Golden Heart|
So, with the RWAustralia and RWNZ contest season about to start fresh, I know there will be some of you keen to try the contest circuit (and good on you, go for it!). There are a wide range of ones for you to enter here and overseas.
Keeping that in mind, here are a few links you might like to explore to find the sort of contests you'd like to enter:
Romance Writers of Australia contest page
Romance Writers of New Zealand contest page
Romance Writers of America contest page
Stephanie Smith's contest page for author
|RWNZ Clendon Readers' Choice Award|
There are valid reasons to try both paths, one isn't better than the other.
It's whatever works for you.