Saturday, May 11, 2013

Good New and Bad News

Well, I have good news and bad news.

The bad news first: My previous blog entry was part of a contest called the "The Write Voice" for middle grade and picture book writers. To be part of the contest, you had to first be picked randomly from other entrants. There were 247 entries, and 150 open slots. I was picked to get one of the slots. If you were given a slot, you had to post a query letter and the first 250 words of your manuscript (or a description of it if it was a short picture book). That's what the previous blog entry was for. After all the letters and manuscripts were posted, then a couple of "writing coaches" were to read through all the entries and select those they wanted on their team (much like on the TV show, "The Voice", hence the name of the contest). The last day to be chosen for a team was yesterday, May 10. I wasn't picked to be on a team so I'm out of the contest. The lucky ones who were picked get to work with writing coaches to improve their submissions. Then a group of literary agent are going to read over those entries and choose the ones they want. Since I didn't get chosen for a team, I'm out of the contest.

But, thanks to the good folk who came by, read my entry, and wished me luck. I appreciate it.

Now, for the good news: I learned a lot from this contest.

Blogging - part one: In order to submit, you had to have a blog of your own. I had a blog of my own, this one I started years ago and neglected. I hesitated to use it for my contest entry as it needed so much work, but I went ahead and used it anyway. After making my post, I visited the sites of some of the other contest entries (there was a list posted of everyone who had entered, along with links to their blogs). Yes, I had a blog, but my blog was rather pitiful in comparison to others that I saw. That's when I decided to update and upgrade my blog. Since the initial contest entry, I've done a total revamp of my blog. It looks incredibly better than it did when I first started (if I do say so myself!). The look of the blog wasn't supposed to make a difference in the coaches' choices for team members, but maybe, unconsciously it did. At any rate, I have a better blog to use for any future contest entries.

Blogging - part two: The second part of blogging deals with the actual act of blogging. Something else I've learned from all this is that most of the successful writers have blogs - and they keep up with them. I have resolved to do a better job of using and maintaining this site in the future. As stated in a previous post, I plan on posting at least once a week. I've got all kinds of topics I'm considering for my blog entries, so stay tuned and see what I post. Also, please feel free to leave a comment on this post, or any blog post, with any questions you might have, or any suggestions for future entries.

Query Letters: A big part of this contest dealt with the query letter. For those of you who are not too familiar with writing lingo, a query letter is the cover letter you send to an agent and/or editor "querying them" about your story, article, book for idea. The query letter is used to describe your project, tell the agent/editor a bit about yourself, and ask them ("query them") if they would be interested in reading more. In comparison to other query letters I've read as part of this contest, I think my query letter is descriptive, and maybe adequate, but it doesn't have a whole lot of "zing" to it. I need to revamp it to make it more exciting.

The first 250 words: It's important to grab the reader's attention to your story in the first 250 words. That's all we were allowed to post for this contest. 250 words sounds like a lot, but it really isn't. In terms of a manuscript, 250 words is equivalent of roughly one type-written, double-spaced page. So that means you need to grab the reader's attention, and peak their interest, by the time they've finished reading the first page. That can be difficult. I thought I did pretty well with my first 250 words, considering the nature of the story, but I would certainly be open to any thoughts, ideas and suggestions as to how I might improve the beginning of this story. Thanks!

Now, it's time to put this contest behind me, and get ready for what's coming up ahead. I'm eager to improve my writing so I can sell more stories.

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