I didn’t make it….but onward I go!

Today, I learned that I did not make the second round of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award.

You’d think I would be upset, but I am quite philosophical about it and reckon that it just was not meant to be. Maybe the contract they were offering as a prize was not the best I can get. Maybe something better is waiting out there for me. Of course, that’s not to say that I don’t wish everyone who did make it through the best of luck, and it also doesn’t mean that I would not enter if again next year if by then my novel is still not published.

For now, though, I am moving on, and already have my sights set on another unpublished novel competition. This time, it’s the Dundee International Book Prize, with a £10,000 and 10% royalties first prize contract. The deadline for this is 4th March, so I find I have a little breathing space. Maybe not getting through the pitch part of the ABNA is a sign that maybe I can look at polishing that up. I have about three weeks to look at the whole novel and see if there is anything that can be tightened.

In the meantime, too, I am working on another short story, which will be my third this year so far. My aim is to build a collection of them to send to the various competitions. Most of them insist that your story not be entered into another competition at the same time. And of course you could blag it and just send to multiple contests anyway. But with the timelines involved (deadlines for each contest and dates that they let you know if you got through) it is far too complicated to keep track of. You would have to withdraw from one if you won another too, so if you send a separate story to each contest, you could potentially win ALL of them and make more money! Ha ha! There’s nothing wrong with being confident.

So, I will be busy in the coming week and months, writing like a little demon in my dark dungeon! Well, in my living room mostly with the telly on in the background. When I am being really good, I turn it off.

Twitter has been invaluable for me in gathering information about what contests to enter. If any of you are interested in trying you hand at any competitions, then check out Twitter and if you only follow one account, make sure it is @thenewwritermag They post tirelessly about all the competitions that are currently open, when the deadlines are, and what you need to do. If they don’t tell you about it, you probably don’t need to know.

Please let me know about any competitions you are entering. Or, if you are lucky enough to have already won some, I’d love to hear about them. Also, any advice you have for me will be gratefully taken!

Okay, it’s time I went to work. These stories don’t write themselves…..

One Two Three – The Contests Start!

My 2013 writing competition career started on 27th January, when the deadline for the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award arrived. I have been sending my novel “The Border Guard” out into the world for a while now with varying degrees of response. Most agents and publishers send form letters, and you never know why they don’t want it. A lot of times it doesn’t even make it past the cursory glance, I am sure. I am well aware of how things work. They scarcely have time to devote to all of the manuscripts and part manuscripts that must arrive on their desks or in their email Inboxes.

I don’t take it personally.

Many times I get more than a “no thanks” with no explanation. Often they say “We read your work with great interest” and “We considered it very carefully”. This gets my heart a-pumping! But then the killer blow: “Regrettably, however, we do not feel it is right for our list” or “we are not in a position to devote the time it needs” and blah blah.

Don’t get me wrong, I am grateful that they took the time to at least encourage me. It means more than a straight no, and lets me know that I have something. Frustrating though, because even if some editors and agents like it, the sad fact is they don’t take many risks these days.

I’ll keep on plugging away – it does not dishearten me. But in the meantime I have to keep writing – more stories, more books. There is so much to do and so little time!

So contests are the way forward. Sadly there are precious few contest for novels aimed at unpublished writers. These competitions seem to be the almost exclusive domain of the already lucky, established writers. Which hardly seems fair, when you think about it! They already have the book deal, the agent, the sales (one presumes!). It’s us poor unwashed struggling authors that need the breaks!

So imagine my delight when I stumbled across ABNA. The answer to my prayers. I entered that one.

One off the list. I was off! I will find out if I got through the first stage next Wednesday and will post the news here.

After the disappointment of not making the finals of the Costa Short Story Award, which I entered last year, I sat down and made a list of all the contests coming up. Because all the competitions seem to have a different word count limit, it gave me a nice excuse to write a few new short stories, and I entered the Writers and Artists Short Story Competition. The deadline for this is 15th February, so if you fancy it, give it a go. The word limit is 2000 words and your story has to be on the theme of “Freedom.” All details of this, and other competitions they are running, can be found by clicking on the link.

My third entry this year was to a poetry competition. My good friend, Sue Fell, who is author of “The Crystal Gazer” Blog, has always told me that she likes my poems and thinks I should enter competitions. I had never really considered myself a serious poetry writer before. I enjoy it, but it always seemed more of a mere diversion while I agonised over a plot or character problem in my fiction. But I thought: “Why not” and sent off a 40 line poem to the Kent and Sussex Poetry Competition. The deadline for this has now passed.

There are several more competitions to enter that will take me way into the summer. I will be writing about more of them soon, and will also post a list of links to everything you will need to get into the competition game. I have had some invaluable help from resources on Twitter. There are some fantastic people out there who work tirelessly to make sure you don’t miss a thing.

So in the next day or so I will devote a post to giving some important links, and to listing all the people you should be following on Twitter.

Have a great writing weekend, and please remember to post comments on here if you have anything to add to any of my posts. Your thoughts and opinions and, most importantly, you experiences in the writing world, are of great value.

Contest Wars 2013 – The Campaign Begins

I’m long overdue a post so here’s my second one of the year.

I just started back to work after a week off. Hubby and I went to Benidorm for a few days to escape the cold. Just over a week ago our central heating packed in for a couple of days so we were looking forward to escaping the cold. It was lovely and just what we needed.

Now I’m back I’m all charged up and ready to do battle with this year. I have lots of writing goals and projects and this will be my most prolific and productive year. I can feel it!

I have several competitions lined up in my sights and today I entered the first. I submitted my novel to the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award.

It’s a multi-tiered contest. First they read all the “pitches” which are up to 300 words. The best 400 from each of the five categories (based on genre) will advance to the second round.

They then read the 3000 to 5000 word “excerpt” from those selected and provide feedback to the entrants (which is really valuable even if you go no further!). The best 100 from each of the five categories will advance to the quarter finals.

Reviewers from ‘Publishers Weekly’ will read the full manuscripts of the quarter finalists and again provide invaluable feedback. The top 5 from each category will progress to the semi final.
Editors with Amazon Publishing will read these 25 manuscripts and will select one finalist from each category. So five books will be in the final.

Amazon customers will read the final 5 excerpts and vote for their favourite. The novel with the most votes will win the Grand Prize and the remaining 4 will receive a First Prize.

The exciting thing about this contest is that all the final 5 get a publishing contract with Amazon! The Grand Prize winner gets a $50,000 advance and the rest $15,000 – which is definitely not to be sneezed at.

The one drawback? The amount of entries that will no doubt pour in. Amazon are capping the contest at 10,000 entries – so the competition will be fierce.

Let’s hope my pitch was good enough to grab a reader as this is what is being judged first and if its not good enough, its Game Over!

Wish me luck!!

For more information about the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award, click here