This morning I logged onto Zoetrope (to which you can find a link under Ampersand’s Writing Sites) to find that one of the members had posted a link to a novel contest, the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award.
Guess whose novel will be going in as soon as entries open on January 24th?
I recently wrote an article for Hope Clark on selling short fiction, in which I said that one of the key points is persistence. I think that probably works with novels, too. Why did Penguin UK not pick up The Swan Harp? Oh, any number of reasons, like they were out of spots for young adult, or they had seventeen other novels they liked better than mine. Or something else entirely, maybe. But they didn’t pick it up, and I can cry into my soup (which only makes the crackers soggy) or I can get on with finding someone who does want it. I truly believe I’ve written a publishable and saleable story, and that it’s only a matter of finding the right publisher.
A couple of years ago I read an article, probably in a writers’ magazine at the library, in which a writer talked about contest entry as part of his strategy to publish his novel. His theory was that if you even placed well enough in enough contests, publishers would look at your work more favourably.
The fact is that there are more entries than prizes, and that there are very likely more really excellent entries than prizes. To be shortlisted in a contest, or to make the finals or semifinals, is a coup d’excellence. When my flash “Companion Animal” came in twelfth in a field of over eight hundred, I was over the moon. I didn’t win, but I came so close! And my work got some lovely comments from the judges. I brag about that, even though I wasn’t among the prizewinners.
If you have a novel, I’d strongly suggest looking for these contests. Many of them are fee-free, with the prize of a publishing contract. What do you have to lose? Nothing, as far as I can see.