New Voices competition mere hours away, lots of people are earning awards for bravery by actually posting their offerings. For the first time, many are allowing strangers to read their work and it is nerve wracking. It makes you feel physically ill.
It does always remain nerve wracking. It is a roller coaster ride, complete with feeling sick and then wonderfully alive. I get it every time I submit to my editor. Most authors do.
But also, it is addictive and great fun. There is a lot of excitement when you press the submit button. It is about embarking on a new adventure.
So what can you learn from submitting? Even if you get a Form R. First of all, you learn that you don't die. Your family and friends still love you and that you can do it.
Once you get the response back, it is all about what you do next.
Before I was published, I never finalled in any contest. The one online contest I entered with Kate Allan, we finished dead last. No comments, just voting and there was some suspicion of vote-rigging. The book however was published after we did extensive revisions and became The Lady Soldier. So in the end, I suppose we had the last laugh.
Other authors can similar stories.
When I was at Orlando, I was struck by the fact that a number of the Golden Heart finalists had finalled in previous years and sometimes had won. There were also people who never finalled who had sold. It all comes down to the editor seeing the magic in your submission. Sometimes, people get so focused on contests that they forget the important thing is the STORY and telling it in the best way possible. You don't want a good contest submission, you want a great story. And for series romance, you want a great story that fits the demands of the line.
So what do you do if you don't final in NV? Take a long hard look at your submission. Read the finalists. See if you understand why they were chosen. Do you agree with the judges' assessment?
See if there are ways you can improve. Can you add more dialogue? Cut out back story? Make the story more immediate? Make the stakes higher? Decrease the secondaries? increase the emotion? Up the sensual tension? Make the characters more rounded and less cardboard cut out? There is no right or wrong answer. Go with your gut and see.
Do it and then submit the traditional route.
If you believed in your story enough to submit to NV, you should believe in your story enough to submit using the traditional route.AFTER you have taken another look at it. Craft helps improve Story Ideas.
Maybe though, you relise that in order to do the story justice, you need more craft. Use your new found knowledge to craft another story and submit that. I wrote 7 full length manuscripts before I sold. Writing is never wasted.
And it does become addictive if you want to be a career novelist rather than penning a single story.
Right off to finish my partial and send it off to my editor for her eagle eyes. And I am waiting to hear on my Online Read. Does it work? Will it need revisions? I could be sick... but I trust my ability to use craft to fashion a great story. Or maybe I'm delusional?