Monday, April 23, 2012

So You Didn’t Final - Now What?

I entered the Genesis this year and didn’t make it to the second round.L

This may be a boat many of you are in. You waited excitedly for the results to be announced, kept your phone in your pocket, and hoped your name might be on “the list.” Yet when the results came through you discovered you didn’t make the cut.

What now?

Well first, I admit I did sulk and had the strong inclination to eat a pound of chocolate in one sitting. (Which might have really helped!)  The two novels I submitted, I hoped would go past round one, but they didn’t.
So what do I, and those like me, do now? Here are a few tips.
1 – Read the feedback – I’m excited about the Judge’s feedback, seeing my scores and finding out what they thought. This will enable me to locate areas I need improvement, and areas I did well. When looking at the feedback, note similar views and contradictory ones. After all, writing can be very subjective. Where one thing really hits the mark for someone it might not for another. Using the feedback, I’ll make changes. I might not have finaled, but I can always gain more knowledge, more ability to improve. That should be a reason to celebrate in itself. Which brings me to my next point.
2 – Celebrate – You entered didn’t you? This is a huge achievement. So celebrate taking that step and being brave enough to put your “baby” out for criticism. I’m sure there are many who wanted to enter, but just weren’t brave enough, or for whatever reason weren’t ready. You were. And you entered. Also, remember how big a job it is getting entries ready for the contest. So be proud of all the hard work involved in just submitting.
3 – Remember there are others out there – Every author wins at least one contest before being published, right??? This thought crossed my mind, and I began to wonder if I would ever win anything. Yet, the day after the results were announced I read a blog post by an author who I think very highly of and who has just received a three book contract from a very prestigious publishing house. She said she didn’t win a single contest before publication and the only time she entered the Genesis she didn’t make it to the second round. That made me feel much better. J Another author, whose debut novel releases in just a few weeks, put out a post to the ACFW loop which was such an encouragement. She said a few years ago, she entered two novels and also had an agent. Neither of those works made it onto the next round. One of those two novels hits shelves very soon and has already received amazing reviews. The other novel is scheduled to release in a year. So what does this tell you? Just because you didn’t final doesn’t mean your writing isn’t any good. It may need work, but it doesn’t mean all hope is lost.
Lastly, I’m not saying any of this to demean contests or contest winners. I think they’re great, and I know a ton of writers who credit their success to the contests they entered. Yet I do think they can also be very subjective (rather like Amazon reviews in a sense). I’m just guessing here, but I’m sure there are some published authors, who upon entering a manuscript, might not final either. It’s just the nature of contests.
So read your scores, celebrate taking the step of entering, and as Winston Churchill famously said “Nevah, nevah, nevah give up.” You don’t know what’s around the next bend in the road or where the next contest will lead.
Happy Writing,

How did you fare on your Genesis entry this year? Any tips you learned from not finaling? Or anything you can pass on to others if you did?

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