Monday, October 12, 2015

Contest Win Left Me Feeling a Little Deflated

Editor's Note: Stacy's timely contest article is a reminder that The Zebulon, Pikes Peak Writers Fiction Contest's deadline is November 1, 2016.

By: Stacy S. Jensen

I placed in a contest last year.

It left me feeling super rejected.

I know weird, right?

There's an easy explanation for the rejected feeling — the prize included a critique from an editor.

I was excited when I learned I placed. My name was misspelled on the winner's list. I didn't care. I would receive a hand dandy check and a critique—que angels singing. A critique from an industry professional is golden.

Time passed and the check and the critique arrived in the mail. Excitement ... then reality with comments like (and I'm paraphrasing here): Hey, I gave you low marks on market, because I could never take this to my acquisitions board. We have a similar title.

Ouch. Curse the "know the market."

While the editor's comments on market left me a bit deflated, it IS a great lesson. I know to study the market, but I hadn't thought about that being an issue in a contest.

Since the contest, I study publisher catalogs closer. If my writing style is close to an agent's client, then I submit to another agent on my list.

The editor provided many useful comments about my story. The critique prompted some changes and motivated me to submit to a few regional publishers. They were not on my radar prior to the contest award.

I also enjoyed depositing the prize money too. Any day you receive money for your work is a good day.

What's been your experience with contests —Do they send your work in a new direction?

About the Author: Stacy S. Jensen worked as a newspaper reporter and editor for two decades. Today, she writes picture books and revises a memoir manuscript. She lives in Colorado Springs with her husband and son.