A month seems like such a long time, doesn't it? Thirty whole days, give or take a few depending on the month. And then suddenly we're turning another page on the calendar and wondering--at least if you're like me--where the last month went.
Despite no turning of the calendar page, today it occurred to me that there's a week left until I find out whether my novel has made it into the Top 2 in the Fresh Blood contest. A week. How did that happen?
It's a strange feeling, one that I can't quite put into words, knowing that there's a possibility, no matter how small, that next week at this time I could be one of two authors competing in the final round of the competition for that coveted prize of an actual publishing contract, particularly for a novel that came very close to landing in the good old round file. It's exciting, definitely. And flattering.
If I'm honest, it's also terrifying.
And here's my confession for the day... It's not the idea of losing that I find frightening. It's the possibility of winning.
Losing a contest doesn't bother me. A contest like this is a wonderful opportunity, for which I'm always grateful. But contests don't come with guarantees. And when my time is up in a contest, I only take it as a sign to move on to the next opportunity. And in this case, the truth is that I've come way beyond the point I ever imagined getting to in the contest.
Of course I'd love to win the contest. It would be a dream come true. But when I think about the possibility, my mind races to the inevitable place it always loves to go... Is the novel good enough?
Win or lose, I hope my novel is good enough, because come next Tuesday, if I don't find a place in the Top 2, you can bet I'll be gearing up to start shopping it around.
And if I do find a place in the top 2? Well you can believe that I'll be doing my damnedest to promote the contest and the wonderful people at Dorchester, Chizine and Rue Morgue who've sponsored it.
But Speaking of Promotion
You know, I read a post a week or so ago about contests. It was a wonderful, helpful post about winning contests. For me, it was a very timely post as well. But reading through the comments, I was dismayed at how many people expressed such strong displeasure about an author in a contest trying to promote his or herself.
Now don't get me wrong. I admire their idealism, their belief that a contest should be won on merit. I'll also admit that the responses gave me pause, for one because the strong reaction surprised me and for another because I've always been glad to help out a fellow author if I could.
And I do have some thoughts on the subject...
While I understand the belief that a contest should be purely based on merit, I think there is a point behind the public vote portion. In those contests where the prize is a publishing contract, I'd suspect that the publishers sponsoring the contest are looking to see how well authors promote themselves, which is a big factor in publishing these days. If you're willing and able to promote yourself prior to publication, then it bodes well for promoting your book after publication.
Also, most of the popular-vote-based contests are not, in fact, exclusively based on popular vote. For example, in the contest I'm in, a panel of judges (editors and published authors in the genre) determined the finalists up to the top 5. It was only at that point that it became vote-driven.
I think most authors are reticent about asking people for support in these contests. I know, for me, it's been, at times, painful. But it's also been a great learning experience and a chance to network and meet some wonderful people that I will consider friends long after the contest closes. I also believe that most authors don't actually expect anyone to vote for them in any contest (save for family and closest friends). Support in a contest is a gift, not an obligation.
It's hard to ask for votes. But while it would be nice to think that the masses will be drawn to the contest sites to vote based purely on their like or dislike of an entry, it isn't realistic. An author participating in such a contest must realize that their competitors are out there seeking votes, so to sit back and hope for people to just find the contest site and vote is pretty much assuring yourself a loss. It's nice to be idealistic, but the bottom line--at least for me--is that often there's something very big at stake in these contests and I don't think it's wrong to pursue that as hard as one possibly can.
Anyway those are just some of my thoughts on hte subject. I hope you'll all forgive my little personal ramble this morning.
So Thank You! (And Voting Information)
To those of you who've supported me in the contest this month (or in past months), I thank you with my whole heart.
And if you haven't voted yet this month, please drop by Fresh Blood and cast a vote.
I would love to have your support for my novel, Heart of the City, but if you find another novel you'd prefer to vote for, I certainly understand.
And for those who want the quick version of how to vote: please email your vote to email@example.com. In the email's subject line put: Fresh Blood Vote: Heart of the City. The information must be in the header for the vote won’t count! One vote per email address is allowed.
Thank you all so much for bearing with me today. For better or worse, I'll let you know how I make out next week!