You see this contest advertised and twist your face into a frown of consternation. “They charge an entry fee,” you tell yourself. “It’s probably a rip-off. I work too hard for that thirty-five dollars. I'm not about to hand it over to a bunch of clowns for nothing.”
First off, let me assure you, we’re not clowns; we’re writers. Some would argue there’s not much difference. But since you’re a writer too, you'd better look in the mirror when you call us names.
Most importantly, though, it’s not all for nothing. Let's hear what some past participants have told us:
Janet Sketchley, an entrant in our first Contemporary Fiction category in 2010, says:
Contests are good practice in meeting deadlines and following specific submission guidelines. I appreciate being able to read samples of the winning entries and see the content and quality that my own manuscript has to match to catch a publisher’s interest.
In 2011, Janet put this experience to good use. She went on to place third in a contest for unpublished novelists sponsored by the small press, Risen Books.
Heidi Chiavaroli, who participated both of the past two years, concurs:
The contest very much helped me move forward. I think it’s good to have that submission experience, and it helped me acquire some more of that “tough skin” that we writers need!
Johnnie Alexander Donley, one of our entrants the first year, told us her strongest memory from the experience was the encouragement she received, even though she didn’t win the category:
Since then I’ve written a second novel and had the honor (and joy!) of winning the 2011 Genesis contest in Historical Fiction with it.
Our very first category winner was Cynthia Rogers Parks, with her unique
Heidi Chiavaroli has the distinction of having been a Historical Category winner in both 2010 and 2011, with her entries Room for Freedom and Tears of the Outcast. She told us:
I loved the Novel Rocket contest (both times). Last year, the added bonus of the critique was particularly helpful. I took the advice and I’m confident it bettered my manuscript. I am in the process of subbing (to agents) Tears of the Outcast. I think it was a big help to have been able to list Novel Rocket’s contest win in my query/cover letters.
Cheryl Linn Martin shares Heidi’s enthusiasm. She won a Middle Grade/Young Adult category in 2010 with her entry Pineapples in Peril, which later placed third (mainstream category) in RWA’s Kiss of Death, Daphne duMaurier Contest for Excellence in Mystery. She says:
Winning Novel Journey’s “Out of the Slush Pile” gave me the confidence to move forward. I was so excited to receive the recognition and the wonderful comments. Sometimes, confidence and determination to continue the battle is what a writer really needs. It was what I needed, and I thank you for that boost!
Of course, the RWA 3rd place award was huge, but Novel Journey was the first affirmation I received—and it meant everything to me!
We had such an amazing response to our request for feedback, we’re out of room today. Come back April 9 for more testimonials from past participants -- category winners and otherwise.
Meanwhile, give some serious thought to entering your own unpublished novel. The official rules can be found on our Contest tab. If you have questions that aren’t answered there, send them to NovelRocketContest@gmail.com, and you'll be personally answered by a real, live, Earth-born human being.