Most of you in the writing community know the bruhaha that surrounded a highly publiscised writing competition that announced their finalists earlier this week. For those of you that don't, I'm not going to name names, lets just say it was a contest for a popular publisher looking for new talent. At least one of the winnners emerged as an already established writer having previously published with the house that ran the competition. As you can imagine once this news came to light, the claws came out and did some pretty heavy damage. At the end of the day the house was well within their rights and I congratulate the two winners and the runners-up. I got the standard, you weren't good enough email the other day but wasn't crushed. It wasn't the end of my world, I didn't cry for a week or let my claws loose like a bad loser and poor sport.
Anyway, among the comments on the publisher's blog were things like (I'm not actually quoting I'm just putting them in quote marks) 'It's competitions like these that make me want to give up writing forever'.
DO IT THEN!! If you can't handle one little rejection...
'Why would' the publisher 'do this when they said they were looking for new talent? Why put everyone through it?'
Because they can. Do you seriously think out of 540 odd entries that they had time to check every single persons credentials while they were reading the entries? Yes the winner was previously published with several different genre books but she had never pubbed with the line. She wasn't in contract. The competition was open to pubbed and unpubbed writers and authors. Do I think they shot themselves in the foot for next time? Maybe, maybe not. I think if they ever do something like this again, which I'm reasonably sure they will, perhaps they'll take some of the nicer comments and run two sections. One for pubbed and one for unpubbed. The truth is the calibre of writers will vary no matter where you go or what compeition you enter. If they didn't like your story or your voice, you were screwed from the beginning. Don't forget too, that they can't pick 10 people and say we loved your story, lets print it. Even the winner didn't win a contract. She won an editor for a year. How much of the year and what the editor will do for her is yet to be seen but what a fabulous opportunity.
To those who spewed their anger and disappointment, shame on you all. One of these bitter people actually went to the winners blog and hurled insult after injury. Do you think you ever have the chance to be pubbed with that house now? If you are thinking about giving up. Then do it. Do the publishing world a favour and stop writing right now. If you can't handle a rejection from a competition where you had a 540 to 2 shot of winning then you can't be in this game. All I've had so far is rejection after rejection. Have I cried? No way. I happen to know some very fantastic writers who suffered years and double digit rejections but they kept at it. They honed their craft, they perfected their voice to the line they were targeting, they worked hard at it and kept on until the rejections turned into contracts and a readership! If you don't have the passion to learn from this and move on, the you don't deserve to be a published author.
Another question I have is when did this become the only competition in the world of writing? Do these idiots know there other comps out there where your chances would be less than a hundred to one of winning maybe less than fifty to one? Nearly every RWA competition has a category section where the final judge is a line editor. You have more chance this way than you would have with the other one. How about opening your eyes to other possibilities out there. This one time, we weren't good enough. Doesn't mean on another day, against other stories, with another editor, you would have scored the same. This business is all about the right story, the right person, at the right time. Maybe the person who read yours didn't like the story, they may have hated your main character, maybe she had her period and was having a bitchy day. Who knows but who cares. Try again. Sub your story through the regular old school channels and see how you go. I currently have two out via snail mail to Blaze at HQN, I have a historical on the desk of a Kensington editor and a couple of comp entries out there but I also have a folder in my inbox full of rejections. Just two weeks ago I had two agent rejections in the same week. Was I upset? Damn right I was but they are the stepping stone. The go-between in the middle of me and the publisher. Just because they didn't think my story was top-notch doesn't make it crap.
I for one will never give this up. When I wrote my first story, by hand in seven Winnie the Pooh exercise books, I realised where my future lay, what my passion was and is, and I won't give it up because a couple of rejections. I'll start again, I'll take classes and go to conferences and ask questions until my big R turns into a contract and $$ signs. Rejection does not equal crap!
Anyway back to the business end, next week I will probably put off the post, depends where I am right after Christmas so until then, be merry, be happy and celebrate family and friends. You are alive, hopefully you are reasonably well and it's Christmas. Have fun! I will be =)