Monday, March 24, 2008

Contests-Entering or Judging-Which Helps You The Most

Today I'm talking contests. Entering and judging. It's a somewhat love/hate relationship in my book.

Entering contests is a great way to get your manuscript in front of an editor. If you can't get away to conferences that offer one-on-one or group appointments with an agent or editor, entering contests can get you the same type of request. Granted, you don't get a face-to-face meeting, but your work still ends up on their desk if you are a finalist.
As a judge, you help determine which manuscripts are ready to actually be in front of an agent or editor. The contests I have judged say don't judge the manuscripts against each other. Judge them on their own merit. So it's possible to have 4 or 5 great entries to read...and they will all have a high score. It's also possible to have the same amount of entries that aren't quite ready for the next step. As a judge it is your responsibility to give encouraging, yet helpful, insight. Praise where you can and suggest where it's needed.

I have learned a lot from both experiences. I took Judge Training at an RWA conference years ago. It helped me a lot. I limit the contests I judge for because I don't want to get burned out on it. I think where the judging has been most helpful is for the synopsis. Wow. I'll read a synopsis and think "how did they get from there to there?" Then I look at my own and wonder the same thing.

Entering contests is generally well worth the money. I've had a few entries returned where the feedback wasn't that helpful or great, but that isn't the norm. Most judges have valid points and their goal is to help the entrant.

What do you think? Have you entered contests? Have you judged entries in a contest? Have either been helpful. Let us know!


  1. This is timely, Lindi. Golden Heart calls will start going out tomorrow, I believe!!

    I've gotten a lot of great feedback from entering contests, but I was blown away by how much I learned when I judged a contest for the first time. I also took the judge training with Lindi. It was a huge help. I think judging helps us look at a manuscript objectively so we can take that practice and try to look at our own in that way.

    I hope those of you who entered get a call this week!!! I can't wait to hear!!


  2. I also meant to say that those who are interested in discussing contests, please visit another group blog I'm on:

  3. I have to say, I get as much out of judging contests as entering them. I believe even novice writers should judge, because it is a learning experience. You learn to recognize what works and what doesn't.

    That said, I don't usually enter unless the final round judge is someone I want to get my work in front of.

  4. Thanks for the comments, ladies. I agree with Mindy, judging contests is a great way to see what works and what doesn't.
    And like Missy said---good luck to all who entered the GH!

  5. I enter Lindi's contests !!! So I am a winner even if I lose !! sometimes I wish I had all going for me that you all do, and other times, I'm glad I don't and can just respond !! Be well be safe all......