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brendao
05-19-2006, 11:05 PM
I am nearing completion of a middle grade novel manuscript, just in time to send it out to an annual contest, sponsored by Random House, open only to first novels of this kind. However, I noticed that the contest has not had a winner in five of the last six years. Consequently, I'm feeling squeamish about its potential as a launching pad.

Suppose I were to win the prize of a standard publishing contract with Delacorte Dell Yearling. Would the fact that my manuscript emerged from a contest make a difference in how strongly the publisher markets it? Would it receive a small press run and then disappear? Would I be better off to pursue an agent who believes in the work and can negotiate something better?

Thanks!

argenianpoet
05-20-2006, 03:19 AM
Welcome to Absolutewrite Brendao!

I don't know much about contests, but the ones that I have entered I had to pay and I never won, so I gave up on that avenue. However, I do know a lot about literary agents and I would suggest that you first finish the novel and make it as error-proof as you possibly can and then query agents in sets of ten until you get a bite. There's a website:

http://www.agentquery.com/

where you can find agents that represent your particular genre and find out their submission guidelines, and if the agent's have websites you can get a better look at what they want. Always give them what they want and nothing more than that.

There's a book called the 2006 Guide to Literary Agents by Brogan that is very helpful, although I would double check the addresses and submission guidlines because some agencies move after they post their information in the Guide. Check the internet for each agency's website and study it. It can really make the difference.

Hope that helps...

argenianpoet

brendao
05-23-2006, 06:59 AM
Thanks for the advice, Argenianpoet. This Delacorte contest does not have an entry fee, but my revising needs might just push me beyond the contest's entry deadline anyway, so that would make my decision for me.

I initially was interested in this contest, because it's for first novels only, and an author I admire got his first work published this way.

Most likely, I will eventually have to do the work that you've already done - learning about how to query agents and all that fun stuff. But that's not for several months yet. Good luck to you.

Brenda

Gillhoughly
05-23-2006, 08:18 AM
Contests with no entry fee are danged rare, go for it!

If the book's not ready, just set aside a serious block of time and focus entirely on the work. It's sort of like cramming for a test. Go over everything, polish till it sparkles, then send it in.

While it's away--work on your next project.


Would the fact that my manuscript emerged from a contest make a difference in how strongly the publisher markets it?

Baby--your book gets PUBLISHED!!!! How it's marketed is out of your hands, though they will likely look after it well enough.

Oh, did I mention this--- YOUR BOOK GETS FREAKIN' PUBLISHED!!!!!! WOOT! WOOT!

Now...get to work on it and go kick some contest a$$!!! :D

DamaNegra
05-23-2006, 09:47 AM
Heheh, I just did that very same thing. I entered a contest that has never had a winner (well, this is the second time it's on) and with a ridiculous deadline, and a first-time novel too.

I didn't sleep and sometimes didn't eat to complete the damn thing. I don't advise it unless you have excellent discipline and iron skin or something, it gets really nasty.

How'd I do? No idea, I barely sent it out on Friday. I'm still exhausted.

P.H.Delarran
05-23-2006, 09:50 AM
ok, this may be a dumb question, but how does a contest not have a winner?

DamaNegra
05-23-2006, 10:08 AM
It is declared deserted, which means: "all the novels we got sucked so much we're not declaring a winner." or it could also mean: "we've recieved some great novels but some of them not fit for publication by us"

P.H.Delarran
05-23-2006, 10:10 AM
ok, makes sense. but what a bummer.

Gillhoughly
05-23-2006, 06:04 PM
Having judged a short story contest in my time my heart goes out to the bunch at Random for their turn at the wheel.

I read four entries imitating Famous Writer A; three imitating Famous Writer B; one imitating ME :Wha: ; one based on a really cheesy movie (think Plan 9 but not nearly that good) ....

and one that was original. :e2faint:

Though it needed work, it was miles above the rest, and I saw to it that it got published and the writer got paid. It was his first pro credit.

The others were so bloody godawful there was no second place.

That's how there can be no winners in a contest. :)

Jamesaritchie
05-23-2006, 06:19 PM
I am nearing completion of a middle grade novel manuscript, just in time to send it out to an annual contest, sponsored by Random House, open only to first novels of this kind. However, I noticed that the contest has not had a winner in five of the last six years. Consequently, I'm feeling squeamish about its potential as a launching pad.

Suppose I were to win the prize of a standard publishing contract with Delacorte Dell Yearling. Would the fact that my manuscript emerged from a contest make a difference in how strongly the publisher markets it? Would it receive a small press run and then disappear? Would I be better off to pursue an agent who believes in the work and can negotiate something better?

Thanks!

Good contests are rare, but this one is a great contest. If you win, you will get more of a push than a standard novel, and you'll be published by one of the top publishers in the country.

And agents can't negotiate much for a first time novelist. The deal a good agent would get you is no better than the deal you get for winning this contest, and likely worse because any agent has a tough time selling a first novel to such a prestigious publisher.

You can enter this contest and still look for an agent, and should you win this contest, a good agent will be easy to land.

billie
05-23-2006, 08:28 PM
The trouble I can see with entering the Random House (Delacorte Dell Yearling) contest is that it's an exclusive. In their rules they state: "Manuscripts sent to Delacorte Press may not be submitted to other publishers or literary agents while under consideration for the prize." Which means between the deadline of June 30 and notification in or around October 31, you've got a manuscript completely out of commission...

PattiTheWicked
05-23-2006, 09:21 PM
That's only four months. It's perfectly reasonable for a publisher to ask for a four month exclusive on your work. If Random House/Delacorte wants to look at my ms for four months, they're welcome to it.

It's four months you can spend working on your next book.

brendao
05-23-2006, 10:49 PM
Hey, thanks for all the advice, everyone...I think I'm going to push and see if I can make the deadline. It's worth a shot.

Brenda

Gillhoughly
05-23-2006, 10:57 PM
Four months is a short time in publishing. It took six months for a publisher to check my first book out--then buy it.

During the wait, WRITE on your next project.

It will keep your head from exploding.

Monet
07-13-2006, 04:33 PM
Don't quote me on this, but I had read somewhere - can't remember - or I would post the link, that on one or more of the years that there wasn't a winner posted, it was for the reason of:


The one that was picked for the 'winner' was disqualified because the writer has been previously published or the novel was being shown as a multiple submission and was accepted elsewhere in the meantime, etc.

Jamesaritchie
07-13-2006, 10:57 PM
Don't quote me on this, but I had read somewhere - can't remember - or I would post the link, that on one or more of the years that there wasn't a winner posted, it was for the reason of:


The one that was picked for the 'winner' was disqualified because the writer has been previously published or the novel was being shown as a multiple submission and was accepted elsewhere in the meantime, etc.

This may have happened once, but there been others years where there was no winner. As far as I know, the reason has always been because some years no novel shows up that's good enough.

Contests such as this one will have years where no winner is declared. With a first prize of publication and a fairly large advance, the winning novel must be one the publisher believes will sell to the reading public, and believes is good enough to bear his imprint. Some years, no such manuscript arrives.

In other years, however, there will not only be a winner, but two or three other entrants may receive offers under the regular publishing scheme.

Doctor Shifty
07-22-2006, 04:37 PM
Do it! Set some time aside and force yourself on. The deadline will not make the decision for you, you will make the decision yourself. OK, that's the coach doing the half-time wind-up.

I send entries to competitions, especially if there is no entry fee. I've not won a comp yet, and I still submit.

Every time my story goes unrecognised I take the Edison Light Bulb view - "Wow! That's good news. There's another avenue that doesn't work. Means I've narrowed down the field a little." :)

Sitting on my desk is a remaindered book I bought a few weeks ago - it's the ten winners from a short story comp I entered about two years ago. Now I get to read the winners at about 15% original book price.

The good thing about not winning that one is that it forced me to improve my writing. That "losing" story, with more work, ended up in my book of short stories published early this year.

Kim

argenianpoet
07-23-2006, 09:39 AM
Most likely, I will eventually have to do the work that you've already done - learning about how to query agents and all that fun stuff. But that's not for several months yet. Good luck to you.
Brenda

The earlier that you get started on this, the better. The 2006 Guide to Literary Agents would be a good place to start as a matter of fact. They have all sorts of helpful articles and it lists what the agents are looking for specifically. It has taken me better than a year to gain the knowledge that I have now, and if I had waited it would have meant that much more delay in the process. So, whether or not you are looking for an agent you need to read about them. Here are some books that you could get your local "used" bookstore to order or find for you:

The Insiders Guide to Getting an Agent by Lori Perkins

Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass

The Career Novelist by Donald Maass

Present and past versions of the Guide to Literary Agents

http://www.agentquery.com/

Good luck with everything!

Mike

brendao
07-25-2006, 12:55 AM
The earlier that you get started on this, the better. The 2006 Guide to Literary Agents would be a good place to start as a matter of fact. They have all sorts of helpful articles and it lists what the agents are looking for specifically. It has taken me better than a year to gain the knowledge that I have now, and if I had waited it would have meant that much more delay in the process. So, whether or not you are looking for an agent you need to read about them. Here are some books that you could get your local "used" bookstore to order or find for you:

The Insiders Guide to Getting an Agent by Lori Perkins

Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass

The Career Novelist by Donald Maass

Present and past versions of the Guide to Literary Agents

http://www.agentquery.com/

Good luck with everything!

Mike

Thanks, Mike. I submitted my ms just barely under the deadline, hours after making final revisions. Needless to say, I'm not expecting a win, so I've got my query letter ready and a first batch of agents researched. I'm also letting the manuscript cool for a while so I can make clear-eyed revisions later. Meanwhile, I'm starting work on something new, which feels great.

I appreciate the list of resources, since I've reached the what-do-I-do-next phase.

Brenda