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Sunday, April 08, 2012

More Contest Chatter

The primary focus of Novel Rocket is traditional publication. However, with the publishing world in a wild state of flux, self-publishing is an increasingly practical option. Independent authors are as much in need of experience and encouragement as those who follow the traditional track.

Last month, we shared a few testimonials of writers who participated in our contest in the past. Today, we’ll hear from three more.

In 2010, when the event carried the ungainly name of OUT OF THE SLUSH PILE: Novel Journey’s Fifteen Minutes of Fame Contest, Lee Darling was our second category winner with her Suspense/Crime/Mystery entry, Just Out of Reach. At that time we didn’t require that the manuscript be complete; in Lee’s case, it wasn't.

However, she says winning the category inspired her to not only complete the novel, but to self-publish it (through Lulu) in June of last year, using her own photos as cover art. It’s available in print and Kindle on Amazon.

In the contest’s first year, we took entries in each genre twice. Running the six-category cycle in January through June, and again in July through December, we chose the Grand Prize winner from the twelve genre winners. That year, Diane Moody won the Contemporary Romance category both times, with Strike the Match in May and Tea With Emma in November. Diane says:

I didn’t win the Big Enchilada that year, but goodness – TWO wins over the course of the year? That was so gratifying! I’d had soooooo many rejections over the years, and that was such a boost to help me stay the course and not give up.

Since then, I’ve incorporated both Tea With Emma and Strike the Match into a series called “The Teacup Novellas,” with two more stories to add to complete the anthology. They’ve done very well, so I’m extremely pleased.

In 2011, I took a step of faith by self-publishing my first novel, and I’ve never looked back. I’ve now released five books, and my sales have literally astounded me. I’ve discovered this phenomenal bliss, no longer having to wait years and years for some detached editor to decide if she will or won’t even look at my manuscript. Since then I’ve been a writing machine, and I’m loving every moment of it.

Heard enough? I hope not, because we have one more story to tell.

Our first Contemporary/Women’s Fiction category in March of 2010 had eleven entries. One of those stories, though it had enough mechanical problems to keep it out of the running, grabbed me by the throat. By the time I finished reading the synopsis, I had goose bumps.

As contest administrator, I often exchange emails with contestants, answering general contest questions, discussing matters specific to a submission, or addressing specific writing issues. In one of these email discussions, I suggested that this particular writer, Sarah Wells, get involved in a good critique group. She had solid skills but needed to learn more about the peculiarities of fiction writing.

She did; and she learned quickly. Despite being a medical doctor, wife, mother of two little ones, and undergoing two major moves, she managed to keep working on her story. Sarah revised it dramatically and recently self-published it.

I contacted her and asked for her input for this column. Because of time constraints, she wasn't able to provide the complete answer she'd intended. Apologizing for her (what she considered) inadequate response, she said:

I was really looking forward to raving about how helpful that novel contest was for me. Joining the Sharpened Pencils [the critique group] was the best sort of result I could have had from the contest; much better, in fact, than even winning would have been, since the group has been such a sharpening tool for my writing! There is nothing better for the solitary writer than honest friends who also love and know the craft.

Participation in the contest enabled Sarah to make contacts who helped point her in the right direction; and she knows how to take instruction. Her critique group provided input, but they didn't write the book. That was all Sarah's doing.

I haven't read the other books mentioned here, but in my opinion, A Fountain Filled is a beautiful example of what Christian fiction ought to be. We at Novel Rocket feel honored to have played a small role in bringing it into the world.

Obviously, we can’t promise success to everyone who enters. We do, however, promise to give each entrant a fair shake as well as a thoughtful critique.

If you’ve written a novel and are ready to take the next step, check out our contest rules. Who knows? This might be just what you're looking for.

Yvonne Anderson writes fiction that takes you out of this world. She's also been our contest administrator since the event’s inception. The first novel in her Gateway to Gannah series, The Story in the Stars, debuted in June 2011, and the next in the series, Words in the Wind, is planned for release this summer. She blogs at www.YsWords.com.

3 comments:

Karen said...

I agree with Diane Moody. There is something about self publishing that gets your writing juices flowing. I published my first cozy mystery this past year and that spurred my writing. Maybe it made me relax a bit more about submitting to traditional publishers because just recently I received my first contract for one of my novels.

Yvonne Anderson said...

Thanks, Karen. You're right; a lot of this business is a mental game. Sometimes all we need is a shot of self-confidence to keep us going forward.

Contests, self-publishing, blogging, etc., can all be useful steps to take in our journeys. As the adage says, even the turtle doesn't get ahead until he sticks his neck out.

Sarah Wells said...

Thanks for the kind mention, Yvonne! It was a great contest and I've learned so much since and through it!