Friday, March 8, 2013

A quick note about being grateful.

Friends, Romans, Countrypeople, lend me your ears -

Okay, okay, just kidding about that.  I didn't kill Ceasar or anything like that, but I'm taking a break from my temporary March blog hiatus to write this post.  And this post will be serious.  Because I can be serious sometimes.

Here we go.

To the part of writing world that complains about online contests:

You need to stop whining.


And this is coming from the best place possible.  I'm unagented, I have a book that I love, and I've entered a  couple of online contests, only to not make it to the agent round.

Yes, I was bummed that it happened.

And yes, I was slightly jealous of the people and stories that beat me out.

But you know what?  I got over it, because you can't win everything.

I've seen so. many. comments/tweets/angsty rants lately about how these contests are "run by the same people" and how these people are somehow "only picking their friends to move on to the agent rounds" because EVERYONE that runs contests is a part of some made-up "literary clique" and they OBVIOUSLY don't care about people who aren't their friends blah blah blah.

Well, let me just put that out there, as one contest entrant to another:

There ISN'T a conspiracy against you.

There's no "literary clique" and the people running the contests are some of the nicest, most generous people I've ever met (both in person and online).

They spend days/weeks/months organizing these contests FOR US so that, ya know, we can get an agent or editor to notice us.

I repeat.  They do these contests FOR US.  They go through the slush (Pitch Wars had more than 1,000 submissions), find agents to bid on our work, hold Twitter pitch parties, and provide us with an opportunity to get our work critiqued by others (and THOUGHTFULLY critiqued at that).

They get nothing, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING, from these contests, other than the opportunity to help writers find their dream agent/editor.  They do this FOR US, they sacrifice their own writing time to read our work, to cheer us on, to HELP US, and what do we do?

We start bashing them online.  Because we didn't get picked.

This needs to stop.  It's ridiculous, and rude, and not at all in the spirit of the writing community that I know and love.

A community that wished me luck on my job interview yesterday.  A community that celebrates when people get agents or book deals.  A community that has been so supportive, lovely, wonderful, helpful, and, most of all, WELCOMING.

If you're a writer, we accept you.  If you love to read, we accept you.  If you love to smell books - well, we'll still accept you too.

So, please, please, please stop complaining about the very contests and people that are just trying to help YOU on your writing journey.  If you're not getting picked, then maybe something's wrong with your first page, or your pitch, or your query, or maybe you just have to write a new book.  A better book.

I understand the frustration.  I know how difficult it can be to not get picked.  But so do the people organizing and helping with these contests.  Let's not forget that they're people too, and deserve to be thanked every once and a while because they're doing us all a huge favor by caring in the first place.

They care about us.  Let's not give them a reason to stop.


  1. WELL. SAID. <3 And I say this as someone who didn't make the first cut of some high profile contests.

    1. awww thanks :) and *high fives* look at where you are now!!!

    2. Like, honestly, I don't even know what the big deal is here. I've placed in contests before, and it's awesome, and I met some amazing people through there. I owe quite a bit of where I am now to, say, the Operation Awesome Mystery Agent contests! And then there were others I didn't place in, or make the cut for. Those contests helped other people a lot, but even though the rejection stung, it clearly didn't mean I was never going to get an agent.

      But then this is why I don't understand a certain subset of the writing community - the ones who snap back at agents on rejections or complain about the Vast Literary Conspiracy/the Mean Girls/etc. It didn't work out for you this time. It may yet work out for you in the future. Move. On.


    3. (PS - Hoping to read some of your new thing this weekend :D)

    4. TRUTH! There were contests I entered and won (YAY!) and contests I entered and didn't get into (sadness) but I never once, ONCE thought it was okay to trash the people who worked so hard to provide us with these opportunities in the first place!

      Rejection is part of the gig, and publishing is so subjective that it's just like you said - if you didn't get in this time, you keep going. You keep trying to be better. Because you can't get an agent with something poorly written, so you have to make sure that you're putting your best work out there!

      So resounding YES to everything you said :)

      ALSO WHEEEEEEEEEEEEEE *bites nails* Can't wait to see what you think!!!

  2. I love this post. I've never made it to the agent phase of a contest, but I can still appreciate their value and I think it's amazing that people dedicate so much time to helping others, because it's not like writers aren't busy.

    1. RIGHT?!? They don't have to help us out AT ALL, but they do, and that speaks volumes for the wonderful, compassionate people they are!

    2. Yes, exactly. I'm still in awe of Pitch Wars where even though I didn't make, I had 3 mentors give me feedback and 2 offer to give me more feedback/discuss in the future if I needed it. And they had so many entries, but still gave a personalized touch. They don't owe us anything, but continue to offer opportunities and support regardless. It's an amazing community :)

    3. Yeah! My 3 mentors also gave me feedback and I had 2 offer to beta it for me! They definitely didn't have to do that at all for me, and I'm so appreciative that they still want to read my story and help me succeed!

      I love how supportive and helpful our writing community is, and I really want it to continue to stay that way, rather than devolving into some Mean Girls-esque implosion of feelings and rage-induced insults.

  3. YES THIS. I was in Pitch Wars too, and didn't get picked. But HOLY NIGHT the work those ladies put into critiquing my pitch and first 5 pages!?! Seriously, above and beyond.

    I love our writing community =D

    1. YESSSSSSSS. So. Much. Work. Went into Pitch Wars, and lots of us who didn't get picked still made awesome writing friends and had things critted by our mentors - sometimes it's not about getting picked for the next round, it's about the people you meet who will help you on your writing journey!

      I'm a big fan of our writing community, too :)