Blog friends, meet Amanda. Amanda, meet blog friends. Amanda just came to Texas for the first time and I had so much fun showing her around. We had a writing retreat at a lake house, and I made her do all sorts of lovely Texas things like eat Crawfish, and eat salsa and Mexican food until she couldn’t move. I encouraged her to buy “I love Texas” knick knacks, and drove her around to see the sights. I also made her eat at Schlotsky’s which she doesn’t have in Michigan. How sad. BTW…did you know Schlotsky’s now has g-free bread? Oh, behold (cue angels singing).
Anyway, we toured a tiny Texas town for her fiction research, as Amanda’s four-book series ends in Texas. I hope she wasn’t scarred too much by all of the chatty Southerners she ran across. She did get a pretty big kick watching me have a heart-to-heart conversation with the woman checker who scanned our groceries at Kroger. We almost didn’t make it out of there. I mean the woman’s daddy was having triple bypass surgery and she wasn’t sure if she was gonna be able to get off work in time to drive the hour up to the medical center. After all, she had to borrow a friends car to even do that. It was a rough day for her. I looked over and Amanda was just staring at me like, “This conversation is not happening…with a complete stranger.” Her eyes said it all, and then her mouth said the rest once we got into the car. “Why do you people carry on personal conversations with the grocery checkers?!?!?”
Sigh. I don’t know. We can’t help it down here. This is how we roll. Amanda is from Michigan, and we can’t help that either. But, Michigander or not, I am so glad Amanda is my client. Amanda has been my client for over 3 years now, and is an author with David C. Cook. Do you know how I found Amanda? If you read the title, you’ve probably figured it out by now. Amanda entered a writing contest.
Writing contests are an amazing way to get your foot in the door and get noticed. Some contests might only get you attention and a winner’s title, but other contests give you cash prizes and even publishing contracts! They also provide you the opportunity to get feedback from other professionals, which you should take advantage of any chance you get. The contest Amanda had entered was the ACFW Genesis contest for unpublished fiction writers. This is not the only contest list I browse, but it is the main contest I pay attention to in the CBA for fiction writers. That year, I saw the semi-finalist list come out, and i did what I do best: I googled.
If only they offered doctorates in googling. So, I went through a list of winners and several of them caught my eye. This is what caught my attention at that point: the title of their entries sounded intriguing, they were writing in genres I needed/wanted to sign, and when I found their blogs, they seemed professional in their approach. At that time, that was enough for me to send them an email. Now, I didn’t sign Amanda because she won the contest. Matter of fact, that year, the three people that I signed from the semi-finalist list all made it to the final round in that particular contest, but only one of them won their entire category. I signed Amanda because her book idea was amazing and she really knew her stuff. She knew her characters inside and out. Her writing was great, and I felt that she would be easy to work with. And I thought I could sell her work.
Now, here is my warning about entering contests. You might win a lot of contests with a particular manuscript, but that doesn’t mean that your manuscript is publication ready. Most contests only judge a portion, sometimes the first 30-50 pages, in order to pick winners. And the judging is relative to the competition level. So, if only 5 people enter a given category, then your work was only held up to 5 other people. I don’t say that to take away from contest winners, because I love when people win. But, I’ve seen people get bitter and expect that the contracts will begin to roll in once they’ve received their contest crown, and that is not realistic. All that to say, enter contests anyway. Enter as many as you can find, and especially if entering the contest is free. Oh, and if you want to read some of Amanda’s work, I’d love for you to go grab a copy of her book Seek and Hide. All books bought through my site are purchased through my affiliate links and will help me get to Schlotsky’s more often for that g-free sandwich. Much appreciated!