An Agent's View: ContestsAgent Michelle Grajkowski of Three Seas Literary Ageny weighs in on contests.
To enter, or not to enter: that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of contest advice,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And just not enter at all?
Contests. One of the most frequent questions I am asked is: is it worth it to enter?
The short answer - yes.
The more accurate answer - if it fits into your long-term career goals.
Contests can prove to be many things for many people. Some authors use them as a way to have their work critiqued. Others find them a great way to be put in front of an editor or an agent's eye. And published authors can use them as a way to garner respect in the industry.
My best advice to is look at yourself, and evaluate where you are in your career.
Are you just starting out without the help of a critique group? Then by all mean, enter contests that offer great feedback and peer-to-peer reads. These contests will help you identify areas in your manuscript that might need some polishing - characterization, logistics, plotting. When your proposal is being read by strangers, you will no doubt receive some wonderful advice.
Have you been writing for a few years and are looking to market your materials? Then contests are a great way to get noticed by publishing professionals - and quickly, too! I've read some really wonderful proposals in the contest circuit. In fact, I have one client who told me she "stalked" me through contests. When you final consistently in the various contests, it's a wonderful way to get read.
Are you published and hoping to garner some great PR? Contests are a helpful tool. If you win a contest, often you can contact your local media with a press release. You can gain some serious PR pushes with that type of exposure.
So, yes, overall contests are a fantastic source to help you propel your career. However, pay close attention to your goals and enter the ones that will help you move forward. Because remember, it's not the number of contests you win or final in that matters - it's what the contests can do to help you excel.
As an agent, there is no prouder moment than to see a client accept an award that acknowledges her accomplishments. So, shoot for the stars. It's worth the entry fee.
Until next week, happy writing!