Friday, May 11, 2012

Top Ten Things I Learned

 

 

 

Top ten things I learned

from participating in

The Writer’s Voice competition.


Last week, I entered into a multi-blog writing contest in hopes of landing on a talented team, to be coached and then showed off to agents. To see my entry, click here. For more information on the contest, you can check out the above link. In fact, go check it out and click through the multiple posts about the contest and other teams so you can see the talented authors who made it to the coaching round and read their entries. I'll wait.

*whistles*

Done? Good. Maybe you learned the same things I did.

1. There is some seriously amazing, unrecognized talent out there.


200 entries does not the entirety of publishing encompass. But of those entries, most were polished until they shined, had great ideas, had characters that jumped off the page, and openings that hooked me in the first paragraph. I was flabbergasted that some of them did not already have an agent and/or a book deal already. Serious talent. I was awed being one amongst them, and some of them were so awesomely wrought , they made me feel like I didn’t know my craft. Kudos to my peers on a job well done. I have much to which to learn and aspire.



2. The part of me that wants to be a slush pile reader squeed in glee, and then cowered in fear at what agents/publishers face every day.


I joke that I the job I would love to do every day (aside from owning my own bookstore) is a slush reader. I’d love to read through submissions, pulling out the great ones and passing them along. But how do you take the good, the great and the awesome and separate them? How do you pick which one among so many possibilities gets your attention and which ones don’t? It would be extremely difficult, and I don’t envy their position. Just like I didn’t envy the judges for The Writer’s Voice contest, having to narrow down the 200 entries to only 40. Because…



3. Good writing isn’t always enough.


Sometime the concept is old, there’s not enough of a twist, the market has shifted...yada, yada. The judges, and consequently the agents and publishers, aren’t looking for more of the same. They’re looking for the next best thing that can sell, that has a place in the market. It’s a business decision, and sometimes, the business can’t focus solely on good writing.



4. New teeth are weird.


Wait, that’s my new Dr. Who obsession I acquired trying to avoid The Writer’s Voice hashtag on twitter showing itself.





5. YA/MG market is growing fast.


Everyone wants YA and middle grade. I’m not 100% sure of the exact mixture, but a vast majority of the 40 that made the next round were YA/MG manuscripts. Does that mean there’s no room for my adult urban fantasy? No, but maybe I ought to polish my YA and start querying that as well.



6. There are some seriously funny, and seriously disturbed writers out there.


I followed new blogs and twitter personalities because of this contest. I got lost on twitter just watching the crazy antics of some. Writers are a separate breed: a little crazy, a little schizo, a little nerdy, a little genius, a little obsessive, majorly passionate and I love you all!



7. A sonic screwdriver fixes everything (unless it has a deadlock seal).


And so do beta readers, and crit partners and the supportive writing community. I love my writing group at the Kelley Armstrong website; they have taught me so much. And I can see the fanatic support and results of other writer’s CPs in these entries and on twitter. If you write, find a home. It takes a group to raise a writer.



8. This was A chance. Not THE chance.


There are many other contests, and queries, and agents, and publishers out there. Just because my piece didn’t move on, doesn’t mean I’m done (though I thought that several times this past weekend.)



9. I’m about three to five years too late…


but that’s not going to stop me (or you) from trying. What didn’t work here, may work for others. Sometimes, good writing is enough.



10. The Doctor is rude. Not Ginger.


And so am I.



16 comments:

kiperoo said...

Such good things coming out of that contest! What a great summary. Keep at it!

Becca C. said...

Great post - and some very good points. And for the record, I think there is still a lot of room out there for you adult UF. This particular contest just happened to be put together by primarily YA authors who recruited primarily YA agents and have primarily aspiring YA writer-followers - hence the distorted percentages. I say, soldier on! You will fine your awesome agent!

Also, Doctor Who bonus points FTW. *loves*

Falcata Times said...

Nicely done and great to see a positive learning experience with it as well. I'll keep my fingers crossed for you and of course wish you all the best with the "slush".

Becca C. said...

Great post - and some very good points. And for the record, I think there is still a lot of room out there for you adult UF. This particular contest just happened to be put together by primarily YA authors who recruited primarily YA agents and have primarily aspiring YA writer-followers - hence the distorted percentages. I say, soldier on! You will fine your awesome agent!

Also, Doctor Who bonus points FTW. *loves*

Sarah Ahiers said...

Ooh great post!!! I was lucky enough to get picked to be on a team (cray cray!!) but #6 was my mantra while i was watching the craziness on Twitter and forums. I just had to keep telling myself that if i didn't get picked, i would just query the agents.
Also, a thing i learned was, how NICE everyone was - i got so many unexpected, kind comments on my entry. I really didn't expect that

pj schnyder said...

Really enjoyed reading this and all good points!

Dahlia said...

Excellent post! This is my first contest, and it's been such a fabulous learning experience. I must back up Becca--I think this contest was quietly YA-centric, but that doesn't mean there's not a huge adult market out there. I don't know what your query history is like for this manuscript but there are definitely agents out there who want Adult UF! Don't give up!

T. James said...

I wouldn't be downhearted Kelly, sometimes it seems as though the agent/author fit is like a jigsaw. Most of the time it's just a jumble, then suddenly you have a run of pieces and everything is falling into place.

Keep going, you only need one agent and publisher who likes your work.

Emma Cunningham said...

I've read slush piles. I have to be honest...90% of it is NOT good, great, or awesome.

I do think there is a huge amount of unrecognized talent, though. I hope those authors stick with it long enough for the rest of us to buy their books!

valerierlawson said...

great post - any dr who fan is awesome in my book. the fact that you made it through such a harrowing process and recognize you have room to grow is excellent. (i had a similar experience with the last contest - the surprise agent invasion - it was impossible to stop watching for comments.) all great writers have to develop that tough skin and shoulder the rejections well. you can't let anything stop you if you're really in this for the long haul.

Matthew Lee Adams said...

I agree with Becca. There is definitely an *adult* Urban Fantasy market. And frankly, it's better to be in a market that isn't the hot-hot-hot thing, anyway. Because everyone else is flooding into whatever they feel is hot, and why deal with the crowds? Better to focus on being very good in what is still a sizable niche.

Danielle La Paglia said...

Great post, Kelly. As a fellow participant, I agree with you wholeheartedly. It was a cool experience. The market is a fickle thing and all we can do it keep learning and keep writing.

Steve J McHugh said...

A great post, I"m glad to see you're positive about it all.

Also, Matt Smith might actually be a better Dr than David Tennant. I said might. :-)

Marianne Su said...

Thanks for the insight, Kelly. There are some good things and some not so good things that came from the experience. All of it is helpful.

Angela Addams said...

You seemed to gather quite a lot of great information from the contest and I agree with all of your points. This business doesn't have some secret to success that we can all figure out...sometimes things come easy, sometimes success comes out of hard, hard work. Sometimes it never happens at all. It's tricky and at times, very difficult to keep positive about. It sounds like you have a great attitude though and that's probably the most important thing.

Jennifer said...

Sounds like a great opportunity and eye opening! Glad you got to participate and enjoyed your piece on Femme Fiction Fatale!