|It's exhausting blogging hard-core.|
No, I'm not saying which contest...it will jinx it.
Entering contests always freaks me out a bit. There's always that feeling of should I? Maybe it's not good enough, but I have to get over that.
First I have to find out whether or not the contest will take an entry from my genre or length. If the answer is no, then obviously I don't enter. If yes, I look at what the criteria is: what do they want--an excerpt or certain type of scene? Just the first twenty pages? A random word from page thirty-five?
Also, how much does it cost to enter? I see most contests run by RWA chapters, and they tend to cost between $15 and $35, give or take, to enter, so it's not a decision to take lightly. Honestly, I'd love for them all to be free so I can enter them all without fear, but it is a good idea for them to charge. They have to pay for the prizes (if there are any awarded) somehow, and there are admin costs, too.
Once you have an entry ready and sent on its way, the waiting starts. If an entry is due on October 1st, you might get an email around the middle of December or early January about your placement, or finding out if you're going onto another round. There's definitely some lag time which can be frustrating, but it has a purpose...to allow the judges to read and make sure they're doing the best they can. They can't do a good job if they're rushed. I've judged contests before, and found it easiest to get through a couple of entries a night, sometimes only one, depending on how long it was.
When you find out how you did, you'll typically get a marked-up version from each person who judged your entry as well as a score sheet to see how they judged the entry. This is valuable because it's constructive criticism. Even if you score well, it's nice to see the judges point things out that are working and aren't in your manuscript.
What's your take on contests? Have you entered any before? Thinking about doing one this year?