Tuesday, June 8, 2010

One Week and Counting...

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 freshblood@chizinepub.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!

7 comments:

  1. voted last month, will vote this month, and I think it's grand that you ask for help. We should be a writing can community that can ask for and provide support.
    Jennifer Perry

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  2. This is my first time hearing about the contest. I'll go vote now!
    -E. D

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  3. One more week, eh!? Is your tummy flipping over?

    I think the point that authors need to know how to promote themselves is a valid one for determining finalists, after some extensive thought. I mean... who will vote... friends and family will make a difference to the tune of what? Tens, maybe? But if you've been working the networks at the right level (where people know you, like you, and have an ABSENSE of annoyance about you--and you fit here--no worries) then your WRITING SOCIAL NETWORK is the SAME powerful tool that will get book buzz going.

    (keep in mind this is a recent change of opinion... I have historically thought in an ideal world, quality was all that mattered and the asking was strictly about leveling the playing field)

    I think though... it is probably a strong indicator of how you compare to your fellow contestants in the ability to ALSO ask favors in getting the word out about your book.

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  4. Asking people for things give me heartburn. But I am always happy to help out another writer, ESPECIALLY if it's through a contest because that specifically proves that s/he has merit. They made it so far that they were able to get to the top, obviously the book is good! Sometimes I think people should keep their mouths shut! I'll vote for you :)

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  5. You are absolutely right to ask for help in winning the contest. It's a big, bad, dog-eat-dog world out there, and unfortunately, merit isn't enough to get the rewards (e.g., a publishing contract) one deserves. Too, as you noted, when you're on the other side of that contract (fingers crossed), you will need to continue with the self-promo. The work never ends!!!

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  6. Got the e-mail from the Fresh Blood guys... you're One-of-the-Two, right??? Awesome!! :-D You'll win, I know it!

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  7. I just wanted to say THANK YOU to everyone who supported me, voted for me, sent words of encouragement. I made it to the TOP TWO!! (I just added a new post about it.) But I just wanted to say a big thank you. To those whose blogs I haven't visited yet, I'll be around soon!

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