Writing Tip #8 – Contests, Conferences, Agents and Editors… Submitting that script for consideration Part 1 of 3

So back to writing as a profession:

I was talking to someone who “hopes to someday be a published author” and when I asked if she had completed a story, she said she had finished a few short stories. And when I asked if she had submitted them anywhere she said “No, I don’t want anyone to steal them and I don’t know how to copyright them.”
Now I managed not to laugh, but I am sure my expression showed my dismay because she got a little bent out of shape. So let me explain to you as I explained to her…. No one is going to steal your work…. Not as an unpublished author, not even as a published author with only small sales. you really need to be someone like Stephen King or Bertrice Small; multi published and big earnings before someone will attempt to steal your material and by then you have the entire publishing house backing you so no need to worry then either.

Look, if your goal is publication you MUST submit your work. No publisher is going to call you up and say “hey I was wondering do you have a book I can buy from you?” It’s not going to happen.
But the idea of submitting is scary (and I don’t mean as in Fifty Shades of Grey). It means putting your work and in a way your inner self out there for ….REJECTION. And yes you will get rejected but that is for another day. Submitting work can also be an expense a new writer can barely afford.

So what are some ways to submit your manuscript which produce the best results?
Well you have some options. If you are a new writer still testing out your ability I recommend submitting to writing contests. I don’t mean ones you find in the back of Readers Digest. I mean the ones connected to specific writers’ groups and writers’ conferences. I mean going to the net and “googling” writing conferences and then finding the one which is specific to your genre and then entering the contest associated with that conference.

Here’s why; these contests over the one’s advertised in say Writer’s Digest (not that you can’t enter those as well and even find some conference contests advertised in those magazines)). The contests associated with conferences tend to have judges who are multi-published authors, agents seeking new clients, and acquiring editors so even if you do not win the contest you may catch someone’s eye who can then move you forward.

These contests also have, in my opinion, better prizes. Rather than cash or some publication in some low distribution magazine, contests offer prizes like, coverage of conference fees to attend and a sit down with an agent or editor, they also have prizes like a full read through by an agent or editor of your manuscript.

Entrance fees are usually moderate and submitting is generally streamlined so that you can submit multiple scripts or to multi contests without having to change format or submission requirements. You generally mail in all copies (most require 3) to one place and the contest coordinators then send them to the judges so you don’t have to. And best of all IF you send along a self addressed, stamped envelope these judges will send you back your submission with their notes about your writing right on the paper. Just think even if you do not place in the contest you still win the prize of a FREE professional critique.

Most major conferences’ contests also publish a small pamphlet and if you place in the contest you get your name advertised to everyone attending and you tend to get a certificate if you place which is good for when you are ready to submit to an agent or editor as part of your resume, but that is for another blog.

Now I do recommend submitting to a conference contest held in your area so if you do win and can attend you don’t have the expense of travel, but if you do not intend to attend then all fifty states have conferences year round and each genre has at least one national conference that will take place in a different state and city each year and they all have different fee ranges so you can find the best ones to suit your writing levels and your cheque book.

Always check the conferences history so you are not getting scammed. And always check the submission guidelines so you do not get an automatic rejection and lose your entrance fees. And finally check the prize lists so you know if winning will be worth entering (although I think you win just by entering).

This is, in truth just a small step forward but it’s a safe step for those of you still nervous about letting those precious and sometimes personal words out into the world. Contests are a good way to break out of your comfort zone and to find out if your skills have what it takes or if you still need to polish your writing.
As always I hope this helps and READ ON!!!!