As I pointed out in my 10 Commandments for the Agent Hunt post on Wednesday, one way to capture the attention of an agent or acquiring editor is to place or win writing contests. Publishing is such a subjective business. An agent may love your work and still be undecided, especially if your story is at all out of the box. If you have a few contest credits under your belt, it proves your writing speaks to others as well. It may be just the nudge an agent needs to take a chance on a newbie.
But where does a writer find these contests?
For the romance author, it's easy. Almost every RWA Chapter holds a contest every year. But not all of them cater to every subgenre. And what if you're writing thrillers or YA or a straight historical?
You may think you're out of luck.
But fear not! Let me introduce you to a great organization--PACIFIC NORTHWEST WRITERS ASSOCIATION
Their membership includes writers in every imaginable nitch! Mainstream, mystery, thrillers, romance, YA, children's lit & picture books, historical, sci-fi/fantasy, non-fiction, screenplays, memoirs, poetry, short stories, and essays. They are all about the craft of writing in whatever form that takes.
I was fortunate to be asked to speak for their conference in '08 and I gave my JOY OF WRITING SEX workshop. It was such fun (and different!) to present the material to a packed room with authors who were mostly not romance writers. (As a side note, it proved to me that every genre needs at least a subplot of romance in this market!)
And no matter what you write, I'm betting PNWA has a contest category for it!
My e-critique buddy, the fabulous Darcy Carson (without whom I would not be published) sent me an email yesterday asking me to spread the word about PNWA's contest. Here's the straight skinny:
Once again it's time for PNWA Literary Contest. Click HERE for all the categories and rules. All materials must be received by February 19, 2010.
If you're entering the romance category, you'll need to send 28 pages (including the maximum 5 page synopsis) so make every word count. As with any contest, follow the directions to the letter or your entry will be disqualified.
Every qualified entry will receive two critiques. Finalists will be judged by acquiring editors and agents (There's the brass ring for you! If they like what they see, they will ask for more!) and there is $12K in total prize money to be awarded (with $600 going to the top entry in each category!)
And here's another big deal.
This contest is open to published authors too.
The only stipulation is that the work submitted must not be under contract at the time of entry. (Who among us doesn't have some of that laying around?)
A win in this contest carries some special gravitas. NY Times Bestseller Robert Dugoni (The Jury Master, Damage Control) credits his win in the PNWA literary contest with helping launch his career.
So, good luck and I hope to see your name on the finalists' list very soon!
PS. Today is my regular day over at THE CHATELAINES. Hope you'll drop by!