Monday, November 4, 2013

A Winner! Also, Why You Should Participate in Contests Like These

Happy Monday, Secret Lifers! First things first: thanks to everyone who  participated in our spooky flash fiction contest--both the ones who entered, and the ones who read the final entries and voted. And without further ado, the winner is....

Entry #1! Which would be A MAN SCORNED, written by Rebecca Barray. Rebecca, please send your choice of books (from the ones featured here)  along with your mailing address to, and I'll get your prize in the mail!

So at this point, I know a lot of you are probably in the throes of NaNoWriMo (hooray! go you! write write write!) and so contests may be the last thing on your mind, but I figured as long as we were on the subject, I'd give you my top three reasons or so for entering contests like these. We had a great turnout for this last contest, but for those of you still hanging out in the wings, undecided on whether to go for it or not (no shame there; that used to be me), here are said reasons: 

1: You learn to lose. I'm guessing most people don't enter contests with the intention of losing. Actually, the thought of losing is probably what keeps most people from hitting the send button on a contest entry email. Generally that was my excuse too: publishing is so full of rejection--why invite more? (Hint: this is one of those times when the answer is in the question). Because that's just it: publishing is full of rejection, so contests are a fantastic way to build up that tough skin you're going to need. And what's great about building it through low-stakes contests as opposed to, say, query rejections, is that you aren't necessarily burning any bridges with agents or editors you might want to work with. 

The important thing to remember is that we're all losers at some point--myself included. Want to know a secret? You guys know this fantastic blog over here? There's a big, annual contest that I'm sure a lot of you have heard of. I entered it in the months prior to writing the manuscript that landed me an agent, and then a book deal, and I didn't even make it through the first round. I remember waiting for the "you've been picked!" email, and waiting, and waiting...and then it didn't come. And I was pretty sure my career as an author was over and all was lost (I'm also pretty sure I'm overly dramatic sometimes). But I survived. And this morning I got an even cooler email from my publisher that told me my book would be up for sale in about 8 weeks. So. Yeah. Life goes on even after you lose. It's pretty awesome like that.

2. You meet people. Quite often, really cool people. And many of the people that I remember making the contest rounds with are now soon-to-be-published authors, in case you needed any more proof that contest-enterers is a crowd worth running with. I know a lot of people, too, who have met CPs, beta readers, and just generally awesome and encouraging writing buddies through contests. Writing can be a very lonely endeavor, but it doesn't have to be. And having walked both the lonely road and the surrounded-by-the-warm-fuzzy-writing-community road myself, I have to say that I prefer the latter (this coming from someone who's still a pretty hardcore introvert). 

3. You gain experience. Didn't win this time? Maybe pay attention to the ones who did. What are they doing that readers, voters, judges etc... are responding to? Can you bring more of that into your own writing? Assuming you want to, of course. Because I'm in no way trying to say that the people judging contests are always right, or that you should give up your own unique style to create a more "crowd-pleasing" one--if that's not what you want to do. But I personally feel like my own style is always changing and evolving, and I think contests provide a great opportunity to see clearly what readers like and don't like, and ways I might be able to grow my own writing to at least somewhat account for these things. 

So, there you have it--three quick reasons. What about you guys? Do you like entering contests? Why or why not? What are your favorite types of contests? Do you dislike the word contest? Because I'm starting to. I think it's because I've typed it too many times and now it looks like it's spelled wrong. Anyway, leave your thoughts in the contest comments!

Stefanie Gaither writes YA novels about killer clones and spaceships, with the occasional romp with dragons and magic-users thrown in for good measure. Said writing is generally fueled by an obscene amount of coffee and chocolate, as well as the occasional tennis and/or soccer break. She's represented by Sara Megibow of Nelson Literary, and her debut novel, FALLS THE SHADOW, is forthcoming from Simon and Schuster Books For Young Readers in 2014. You can add it on Goodreads here!

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3 secret replies:

  1. Yay! Thanks so much to everyone that read and voted!!

  2. That's the one I voted for! Congratulations! :)

  3. Congratulations, Rebecca! Your entry was incredible! :)