There’s no shortage of writing contests, especially online. These are anything from Twitter pitch parties, to query contests, to first 250 word contests, etc. I love contests. They’re all great ways for debut writers in front of agents, editors, and in some cases small independent presses beyond the slush pile. And while contests are fun, I’ve noticed a trend recently of my writerly friends getting down on themselves and questioning their abilities when they either lose contests (meaning no agents or editors bite), or don’t even make it into the first round of a contest.
We’ve all heard success stories from writing contests. Someone who found their dream agent and subsequently their book sold to one of the Big 5. This is great inspiration for all writers out there who are still querying, still trying to catch an agent’s eye. But no matter how many of these positive writing contest stories there are, there are so many more happy ending slush pile stories.
Contests, while fun, are not the be all and end all of finding an agent. If your query has already been submitted to agents and you’re not getting any bites, then it’s time to rework that query. Sharpen it, make it stand out. The slush pile is hard, but so is winning a contest. There are just too many awesome writers out there trying to do the same thing as you.
If you’re a writer, you know there isn’t an easy road to publishing. Whether you decide to self-publish or find an agent, it’s hard work. A lot of months, if not years, goes into the book you’re trying to bestow upon the world. It takes time to write a book, and it takes time to find an agent, but why would you want to rush something that you’ve poured so much blood, sweat, and tears into? Keep submitting your work to contests, because I think they’re valuable and you can learn a lot from them. And no matter what you do, keep believing in your story, keep honing your craft, and eventually you’ll land that dream agent you’ve been wishing for.