I’ve had very limited, but very positive, experiences with contests. As you can see, my YA sci-fi is currently a finalist in the Dixie contest, which means Leah Hultenschmidt at Sourcebooks has my first two chapters. My adult contemporary romance is a finalist in Cleveland Rocks, so Laura Barth at Harlequin has that partial. Really, these RWA contests serve two purposes: get my work in front of an editor, and garner feedback from other authors (the first round judges).
Now, anyone who’s ‘been there, done that’ knows the feedback you receive is a craps shoot. Some of my judges’ comments were encouraging and helpful, but then one random judge offered no feedback to explain the very low score she awarded my romance. (Luckily for me, the discrepancy between the first two judges was so great they brought in a third judge, who absolutely loved my work.) Oh, and let’s not forget the expense involved. You can expect to pay at least $25 per entry. That adds up quickly, especially if you have multiple manuscripts.
So, tell me about your experience with contests. How often do you indulge? Has a final round judging led to bigger and better things for you?