Ask Daphne! What about contest submissions?

August 29th, 2008 • Kate

Shoes that were given away in a contest for C.C., who writes:

Okay I have written a manuscript and am now trying to find a good publisher. I had a publisher interested but when he found out I was only 14 he kind of stopped writing back. Then I found a web site about the Random House Young Novel writing contest. If I win than I get a paperback and hardcover copy contract and $9000. But if submit my manuscript, I am legally not allowed to send in the novel into anyone else until they pick the winner in roughly 8 months. I was really hoping you could give me some insight on what is a good decision, to submit or not to submit.

Hey there, C.C. First of all, sorry about the other publisher who stopped writing to you. Being a young writer is a tough gig, and you kind of need to be tough about it. I think trying for the Random House contest is a fantastic idea. No, you can’t submit anywhere else while your novel is awaiting judgment, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still be writing.
And that’s what you should be doing right now. Writing, writing, writing. I get the impetus to be a published author AS SOON AS POSSIBLE, but as I’ve said to other young authors, you’re not just competing anymore with other writers your age. Being the best writer in your class isn’t going to get you anywhere. You’re competing for a publishing slot with adults you have spent YEARS perfecting their voice.
So submit to the contest, and spend the time between now and the results working on your writing. As with everything, it takes time and practice to get better. And if you haven’t read John Scalzi’s advice to young writers, do that now.

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One Response to “Ask Daphne! What about contest submissions?”

  1. Caryn Caldwell Says:

    It almost sounds as if C.C. is trying to bypass the finding-an-agent step and go straight toward finding a publisher. While a contest may be a good way to do that, would finding an agent be a good way to spend those eight months?