Friday, May 17, 2013

Friday Fricassee

Dear hearts!

Since Monday's submissions for the Secret Agent contest, I've been thinking.  Because, though both YA and MG were included this month, there were only 48 entries.

Now, the whole reason Michael developed the lottery system for me was to make it more equitable during the popular runs--and we all know that, in a normal universe, the inclusion of YA and MG spikes the entry numbers pretty quickly.

But not this time.  There wasn't even a need for the lottery, since everyone who entered got in.

That makes 48 people very happy!  But it makes me go...hmm.

So I'm trying to analyze this.  Because, yeah, these contests take time on my end.  Not the submission part, since that's blissfully automated.  But I do have to go through each entry to fix formatting and check for words-that-need-asterisks.  Which is a bit on the tedious side.

Could it be that the MSFV audience no longer supports monthly Secret Agent contests?

Could it be that, with the relatively recent influx of writerly-contests-everywhere-you-look, the pool for Secret Agent contests has become diluted?  (I've heard agents complaining that they're getting burned out with all the contests.  This is a phenomenon that did not exist when MSFV was first created.)

Or could it be that this was just an off month?

I need to hear from you today.  Because I want this blog to be vibrant and relevant and useful to all who come here.  And right now, all I can think is, if only 48 people entered a Secret Agent contest that included MG and YA, what's going to happen the next time we have an "adult only" round?

(You may be thinking, Authoress?  What's the problem here?  48 people are 48 people!  But I'm thinking, if no one was turned away this month, where's our reserve of I'll-try-again for next month?)

(Well, okay.  We don't have a Secret Agent contest in June.  Which might be good timing, yes?)

Please share your thoughts.  These contests are for you.  I want them to remain relevant and effective.  And I want to see the ranks of our 50+ success stories continue to grow.

Waiting to hear from you!

131 comments:

  1. I'm guessing it was just an off month because The Writer's Voice and I think at least one other YA/MG contest were going on this month. Don't stop! SA contests are awesome.

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  2. I really wanted to enter but was sadly ineligible. It hasn't been 6 months since my last entry :( I was very sad :(

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  3. Query Kombat is also happening this month.

    I have never entered, I'm simply not ready yet. But I was really hoping contests could be stepping stone for me, another path besides querying that might attract agent attention, when I'm ready.

    Are there too many contests? I don't know, I only just became serious about finishing and marketing my MS. I've only just been looking into this world. If it is a question of agent-contest-burnout, then it seems particularly risky to allow every entrant into a contest. You'll need quality to attract agents. Someone to separate the slush. Maybe a new rule? "Half (or some other percentage) of all submissions received, to a maximum of 50."

    Either way please don't stop the contests. I'm not ready yet, but I'm close.

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  4. I agree with others. Query Kombat and Writer's Voice have been overtaking my twitter feed, so I'd chalk it up an off month.
    Please don't stop SA! I'm not quite there yet, but I want it to be around when I am ready.

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  5. I have been entering the contests for about a year now and this is the first SA for me. I think it's an off month because of Writer's Voice (I didn't get in) and others. Don't stop doing them but maybe do them less often? Or put a cap at 50 as another commenter suggested? In any case, writers LIVE for contests and I feel like agents are more willing to look at queries/first words from a contest rather than throwing your mss into their slush pile. It's a stepping stone that puts us as writers just a little higher on the next step of the ladder of achieving our goal: to get an agent. Thanks.

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  6. Perhaps your excellent efforts have found so many YA/MG authors agents that there are NONE LEFT.

    Spring/Summer is a popular writing time. Maybe everyone's in WIP mode an has nothing complete to offer up to the Secret Agent Gods.

    I know few MSFVers write things that aren't ever eligible for submission (erotica).

    Most likely just an off month.

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  7. In my case, so much is going on with life right now, I totally forgot - and I even had a sticky note sitting right beside me! I looked at it one morning and then the looked at the date and realized I'd missed it by two days.

    I'm not sure how many other potential entrants are as dippy as I am right now, but I can't be the only one who's busy this month. I wouldn't sweat it. See how the numbers look next time and go from there. Or take the summer off and restart in the fall - when people are less focused on summer activities.

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  8. I agree that it's just an off month. There were a lot of different contests this month. Between the writer's voice, query kombat and all. I ahve noticed a big jump in contests with agents. I hope they don't get burnt out and stop though.
    This was the first time I even TRIED to enter, so I was really stocked that I got in :P
    We really appreciate the time it takes for you to put all this together!

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  9. I'm sure the competition from other contests will dilute MSFV entries in general, but for what it's worth I consider this blog the Gold Standard. This is a great community, you have an amazing reputation, and the quality of what comes through here is generally high.

    Other contests come and go, but I feel like this is a reliably high-quality well! I'd hate to see it discontinued.

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  10. It's just an off month! I love SA even when I don't participate, and I'm only about a month away from participating myself (sooo close to finishing my manuscript!)

    I'm an MG/YA writer.

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  11. I should also note you haven't included "instructions" in the last couple of Secret Agent contests, which makes them feel a bit abandoned. Newer participants don't know the ground rules - that they should be commenting on 5 other entries, that they shouldn't respond to comments on their own, etc. It might be nice to pay that attention again, to give it a greater feeling of being curated and controlled.

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  12. Here's a suggestion: When you get a month that doesn't fill up, include all those who got in on the first round then post a blog opening the SA contest up for those who have entered at some point in the previous six months.

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  13. Please don't stop the SA contests! I think this is just a bad month. Most of my crit group is MIA this month, all busy with various writerly and non-writerly events. I was going to enter but figure I need about another month to put the final polish on my MS. (Of course, there's no contest in June...so I'll definitely be ready by July, if it's an MG-friendly agent)
    Even just reading all the entries is really helpful, to see what works, what doesn't, and what's been done too many times. We appreciate your hard work.

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  14. Although you did an SA early info post on May 6th, I don't think you mentioned it again until the entries were posted. If I hadn't been stalking the blog waiting for an agent that was interested in MG I might have missed it.

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  15. I've been waiting for a new SA contest! I missed the one this month ... please don't stop! They're super helpful!


    Kate

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  16. Yeah it just sounds like an off month to me. I wouldn't worry about it unless it becomes a pattern.
    AND! I'm definitely planning on entering a SA contest in the next few months. My MS just wasn't ready for this SA contest.

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  17. I just found out about this contest on the day of its window, so I definitely think there are more people out there who would enjoy something like this!

    I agree that a sense of the ground rules might be a good idea for newbies. I was a little confused reading the original blog post (posted on the SCBWI Facebook group for my region) and trying to figure out how to actually submit. But I figured it out. Are there other guidelines about commenting that I'm missing?

    Also, I'm going to pretend that there was a HUGE pool of applicants and that I was totally lucky to get in because it felt so good to see that email that meant I actually got a "yes" for something! I would have been depressed to get a "no" on a random drawing after the 5 or so no's I've gotten from agents so far. The "yes" felt good, arbitrary as it was! Pathetic, I know. So it might not be a bad thing to have fewer entrants and have everyone get in.

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  18. PLEASE don't stop! I only found this blog a couple of months ago, and my current WIP isn't ready to query yet, but I'm really looking forward to entering in the future! I participated in the last "First Kiss" event and got really helpful feedback. Your contests are the reason this blog is at the top of my reading list each day!

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  19. I'm a relatively new follower, but already addicted to the SA contests. As others have said, I've learned a ton just from reading the entries and other readers' comments. I will be lining up to enter in the fall, when (fingers crossed) I finish editing my MS. I've also been plugging the blog to all of my writing partners.

    So, don't worry; your audience is still growing. And thank you for all that you do!

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  20. I wasn't eligible due to the 6 month thing. I wouldn't have entered yet anyway b/c I decided to give the story another overhaul. Hoping it will be ready when I am eligible again. I love the SA contests! And I don't think you need to offer less spots. I was so stoked when I made it. I'd entered a few times and not been so lucky.

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  21. I planned to enter, but May (especially this week) is just so busy for me that I forgot. I work in the district office for a large school district, so maybe I'm feeling it more, but I'm sure I can speak for a lot of moms--working or not--who are too busy with their kids' school events, projects, finals, ACK!-there's-so-much-going-on to think about anything else this month. ;)

    I'm sure it's just an off month. :)

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  22. I wanted to submit but I was in a previous. This is also the school-is-about-to-end-sign-up-for-sports-holy-crap-why-did-you-not-tell-me-you-had-a-project-due time of year. So I'd say this is an of month

    Also, if you throw in a Picture Book month every couple of months that would give your Adult, YA, MG people time to reboot.

    Your site is Golden!

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  23. I would say the other contests this month probably took over. But there is also the possibility that your readership is increasingly agented authors. I entered a MSFV contest two or three years ago and got great feedback. Since that time I've found my agent. So has another of my crit partners. And the other two are very very close. As more and more of your readers get agents, there will be less of a need for contests. I'm sure there are always new readers, but those things level off eventually and those of us that have been with you for a long time have grown with you.

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  24. I'm one of this month's 48, and am very happy to have a slot! I agree with others that it's an off month. I think what separates SA from other contests is that every entry gets feedback, instead of just a 'yes' or 'no'. I've learned a lot from reading previous entries, and appreciate the feedback I'm receiving for mine. I hope you keep it going!

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  25. I would hate to see these contests go away.

    While I myself don't write novels, I do point other writers who do over here when they're looking for a strong writing community or an agent, and the SA contests are one of my big selling points.

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  26. I too was ineligible because it hadn't been 6 months. I'd enter them every month if I could! Your website is a valuable resource for so many writers. I say: off month.

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  27. I think your contests are wonderful--I'm also in the ineligible batch, as my new WIP isn't ready to enter yet! But I would hate to see the contests go away.

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  28. They are so awesome!

    And I would have entered only I entered one a few months ago. But I've changed the beginning so much that no one would even recognize it. perhaps consider letting people enter slightly more frequently if they've made big changes? Either way they are awesome and so are you for doing this.

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  29. I agree with Kate, there was no mention on here, on the actual day of submissions, that it was submission day, how to enter, the rules ect. I was in last months and the same thing happened with nothing posted on the day of submissions. It was very frustrating trying to scroll through all the posts to find the earlier announcement with the details. I suspect new people would find this even more confusing. Perhaps posting on the day of the contest entry would help.

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  30. May is a tough month. School is ending and there are no less than a bajillion things to do. I'd say this is probably not an indication of anything other than people are slammed :)

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  31. I see two factors:

    First, since you can only enter a manuscript once every six months (if you're picked), it doesn't take long to use up all the manuscripts. I happened to have two ready, many people only have one.

    At some point, you start to exhaust the supply, especially from regular blog readers. I don't have an easy fix for this, as the alternative would create a lot of "repeaters."

    Second, you didn't stick a reminder about this month's contest at the contest start. The last blog reference to it was on May 6, and there was no other reference or "heads up," and the contest actually started with no blog notice on May 13. First contest-related post (that I'm aware of) was May 15 when the excerpts actually started going up.

    I think the first issue is the most important.

    That being said:

    You do these contests free, going to a lot of extra work out of the goodness of your heart to help out new writers. Believe me, this is not being forgotten, at least by me. Thanks!

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  32. I also planned on entering, but got distracted with all the non-writerly activities in the month of May:rehearsals,recitals,and concerts as school comes to a close for my children.

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  33. It seems odd to me but my own personal experience is what has soured me. I was selected as a "send your full draft" winner of a SA contest (within the past 12 months)and also selected with a different manuscript for a "send your first 50" from another agent. So, two "wins", two different Agents, and in both cases I never received back even a form reply or rejection. There was just .....nothing. That level of incosideration, which many agents seems to wear as a badge of honor, has soured me. That is one.

    The second one is more on the community. There was a time - recently - when the critiques were helpful, in-depth and thought provoking both for the author and anyone who cared to read them. There was a small but visible group of "usual suspects" who could be counted on for these reviews. But, too often, what we now have is cheerleading or perfunctory "pat your back" critiques of one or two sentences that somehow, in the critter's mind, passes for critique. This is borderline useless responding and is really just "aww keep at it " kind of encouragement because, don't you know, everyone and everything they write is "so totally awesome!"

    The blog used to be about reaching to levels much higher than that but it has slipped back dramatically towards the middle of the pack type of worst-case writer's groupitis (as in a disease) that plagues a group of people who gety together only to tell one another how great they all are.

    Writing is hard, getting published is harder and in order to improve, we need the kind of critique, and critiquers that have become drowned out on this site by the cheering masses.

    Just my two cents.

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  34. Let me be honest: I love you and what you do. I was part of Write On Teens until I 'aged out' (twenty now), and I still remember the one agent chat we both attended, and the fact that you extended a hug to me even though I wasn't one of the 'usuals'.

    That being said, MSFV's contests are one of those levels of completion I work toward. My WIP is not ready yet; otherwise, I'd probably have entered, too.

    Also, there is the Writer's Voice and Query Kombat going on. These are only annual events, though, so I think everyone will come back to MSFV after it's over and done with.

    Don't close out! You're awesome!

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  35. Many Ya/Mg writers are students or k-12/college teachers/professors and May is filled with final exams and graduations and other non-writerly distractions. I wonder what your historic May Ya/Mg contest data for May reveals?

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  36. I want to participate, but I write adult romance which isn't often on the wish list. As soon as it is again though, I'm ready to go :)

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  37. I think it was probably just an off month. Like a lot of others are saying, there were QUITE a few contests this month; more than usual. Don't stop doing SA! It's my favorite part of this blog.

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  38. An off month for me. My completed MG ms is being read; my YA WIP is incomplete.

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  39. I'm hoping it's an off month because I love these. My manuscript isn't finished yet so that's why I didn't participate. Keep this going!
    Thanks!

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  40. I was involved in the last secret agent and a different genre, so this one didn't apply to me.
    The way I see it: It's May and hopefully gorgeous outside for everyone. Kids are ending school soon (in many places) and parents/writers are getting busy with the outdoors, kids being home, vacations, etc.
    Perhaps hold off the contests until the fall when everyone is likely less busy and you can drum up more excitement.
    It gives agents a small break too.

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  41. For me, I didn't enter for two big reasons 1) my entry has been in a Secret Agent Contest within six months, and 2) my entry wouldn't be much different from when I entered last time (I did some tweaks, but all my feedback was perfectly contradictory).

    But my next book (assuming this one doesn't get picked up) will definitely find its way to MSFV SA contest. These are really great for feedback (even when it is contradictory). But there are a ton of really big contests right now.

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  42. I had intended to enter this month but I had a sudden lack of brainpower and missed the submission window, so I am now kicking myself.

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  43. It's probably just because of summer having finally fallen. Was in my case at least.

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  44. I agree with Kate above, "Although you did an SA early info post on May 6th, I don't think you mentioned it again until the entries were posted."

    Perhaps a 2-day window to enter next time and a reminder the day of the lottery? With so much on the calendar this month, I missed this contest by a day and was incredibly disappointed.

    I appreciate all of the effort you and the agents put into these contests. You deserve to get a great turn out!

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  45. I couldn't enter because of the 6 month rule. I'm counting the days until that flag expires.

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  46. Please keep them going! It's great motivation for me to finish my current work in progress, an adult mystery/romance, knowing there us such a great, reputable, and reliable contest out there like the Secret Agent contest! Is there any way you could recruit helpers from the community with the formatting?

    I've read the blog for close to 2 years and haven't entered a contest yet simply because I'm not ready and I know it needs to be ready, as an agent could actually read my work here and request more of it!

    Thanks for all the hard work!!!

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  47. For a few months I wasn't entering because of the 6 month limit rule.

    Then the past two months were because of the time zone rule. I live in California. So if I accidentally space it on a busy Monday morning, by 2:00, I can't enter any more. Maybe if you extended the time zone so that it would be easier to enter for us west coasters?

    I love the contest! Don't stop!

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  48. For me its a matter of only having two finished manuscripts and I already entered them both in secret agent contests. I'm just waiting for the 6 months to be up. :) I understand why you like it that way, so the agents aren't bombarded with the same work over and over. I think this must be an off month. I think doing it every month gives everyone a chance. (ya know, in case they miss the deadline by a hair, they know another chance is right around the corner.)Don't sweat it authoress!

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  49. I was excited to get in! If this has happened before, it's a trend, if it is the first time, maybe a couple more contests might lead you to the right conclusion.

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  50. I dream of entering and read everything, every time, only to think "I'm just not ready yet." Please don't stop! My MG novel may be mired in revisions but I hope for a day when I might get to post my entry . . .

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  51. I entered the January contest so I wasn't eligible for this month's. Otherwise you would've had 49!

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  52. I agree with everyone else (well, my scanning of the comments implies that "everyone else's" thoughts align with mine)--please don't quit the SA contests. I would have been eligible to participate--IF I had a finished, polished, MS. I don't yet. I plan to at least by Baker's Dozen. (My MS is adult SF.)

    And yes, I'd say to watch for a trend. Statistically, one month is a blip. If several contests have fewer entries, then it's a trend.

    However, if our illustrious Authoress is getting burned out--well, it's your blog, and you're volunteering your time for this. I can't complain if you need to decrease contests (though I hope you would not stop them entirely!)

    As for those agents who are getting burned out on contests, I hope they are declining to participate. When I get to the query/contest point, I would prefer that burned-out agents not read my entry. It's hard enough as it is!

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  53. Pretty sure I was ineligible this go around, and my current project isn't ready. :(
    But don't stop!! You were my first contest--ever! So many of us truly appreciate and are inspired entering and reading the contest submissions.
    I host a weekly Jazz Show-volunteering. It can become overwhelming. Sometimes all it takes is a thank you, or an, I appreciate what you're doing for us, to keep me energized and wanting to continue hosting and supporting Jazz artists. So please hear me: I am So Very grateful you are here. May your weekend be energizing -or relaxing. Which ever you need most. :)

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  54. I finished a manuscript around 6 months ago, but it's Adult Fantasy, and there's maybe been one SA contest since then that it's been eligible for. (And I didn't get in. :P)

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  55. I'd love to enter-- but my last entry was less than 6 months ago...and needs revised...and I'm still working to finish up one of my other MS. I love these contests, but I just don't have a MS ready to enter right now.

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  56. In my opinion, you are dealing with a large but finite group of blog followers. I am a previous winner, and I have written a sequel to my agent picked entry. The sequel doesn't work in your 250 word format. It has been fewer than six months since I entered my adult novel. Therefore, it is not eligible according to your rules.

    I think that your group of qualified novelists is diminishing in part due to your rules. But ... you do have 48 entries. That ain't bad.

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  57. I love the SA contests, I learn so much from reading the comments by other writers. Plus I am aiming to be ready to enter in September so I really hope you keep going :D

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  58. This blog is new to me, so I might be speaking out of turn. Maybe reducing the number of accepted entries and increasing the wordcount would help spark renewed interest (if it is really dwindling and this insn't just an 'off' month). You could adjust the numbers proportionately so that you aren't taking on additional work.

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  59. Please continue the contests, as long as the agents are willing! The only reason I didn't enter is that I got so busy at work that, after 11:30am, I didn't notice the clock again until 5:07pm. (Yes, I was that frustrated that I missed the window that I remember the time to the minute... and now it's even more frustrating to know I had a guaranteed spot if I'd just entered in time!) I actually submitted to the March one but didn't get picked by the lottery, and then I missed the April one because of the 1-hr time window issue. I appreciate all the work you put into these contests, and I hope there are more in the future!

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  60. I'd guess it was an off month, probably due to other contests going on. I personally didn't try because my current project isn't quite ready yet.

    As far as what you could do, though, maybe reduce the number of entries? 50 is a lot for agents to go through, especially since they usually leave comments for everyone. Or do double agents? (I mean two, not agents working for both sides).

    Anyway, don't stop! This is such a great forum to get feedback from agents and other writers.

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  61. I did want to enter but didn't for two reasons:
    1. I honestly forgot the date to submit (I'm a teacher and the end of the school year is rush-rush.)

    2.I tried one other time and didn't get in, so I thought this would still be a gamble. (When I did remember, it was so late in the day I figured there were no more open spots.)

    3. I keep attacking my opening but I'm still not happy with it.

    And 4. I wasn't sure I qualified. I'm MG but entered a couple critique type posts within your 6-month window.

    Boy, maybe I gave too many reasons-LOL!

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  62. I frequently don't enter because of the 6 months thing. I had my entry for this month all ready to go, but the day before the window I got an offer, so I didn't send it in :O

    And yeah, you're just getting so many ppl agents that there aren't any left ;)

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  63. Again..."6-month window rule". That is why. Maybe change to a "4-month window rule"???

    I wonder if those who got into SA contests in Jan-Feb will be spiking your SA again in mid-summer. I know I will.

    Please don't give up!!!

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  64. From the posts above, it looks like it was just a busy month. Personally, I've always wondered how other writers manage their lives with constant Twitter updates, massive blogs, contests, etc. and still find time to write and oh yeah, have a life! I have to block those things out or I'd never get anything done (and I'm still behind!)

    I'd like to second the picture book idea. It'd be great if it could include artwork, as I've noticed more agents wanting writer/artist submissions, but I don't know if that's viable. Anyway, I still love the SA contests, in them or not.

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  65. I just heard about your blog from another writer a couple of months ago. When I entered the May SA contest and got in, I was thrilled. However, I didn't understand why there weren't 52 entries and I can't see half of them because #1-20 something aren't accessible on the email/blog. Now I know that less than 50 people entered this month.
    Not every writer is ready to submit an entire manuscript for an agent to review and thus might not submit a first page to your contest.

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  66. I learned through past entries that the early agent info is very important. I once entered a contest where the agent said YA all categories; but then in the bio afterwards stated she wasn't really big on fantasy/sci-fi. So now, if they don't take adult fantasy/sci-fi I figure it's probably not the best fit for me. I'd want someone who loves fantasy as much as I do.

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  67. I would loved to have entered but wasn't 6 months since last entry. Please don't stop. I love them and have taken on board the comment from the last SA and am gearing up for when I'm eligible again.

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  68. This is my first time entering, and I really appreciate that the agent comments on each post. In lots of contests, they only comment if they are requesting. The feedback of this contest is invaluable.

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  69. No way am I burned out on your contests! I learn so much from the entries and comments, not to mention the awesome opportunity for the winners. I was the second place winner in October, but that month's agent gets nauseous at the thought of shape shifting, mermaid tails -- or wings growing on people (my story). It was a completely wrong fit, but mentioning that I was a winner earned me a full request in my next batch of queries. ; )

    I still have a few fulls out, but no commitment yet. Please don't shut down the contests! If anything, perhaps open them up sooner, like after 3 months.

    Thanks for creating these amazing opportunities! : )

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  70. My guess would be it's an off month. I'm one of the many (it seems) who didn't enter only because it hasn't been six months since last entry. I imagine there are quite a few people in this category who are eagerly awaiting the end of the six month period. :)

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  71. No, Authoress, don't stop them! They really are worth it. I would've entered but I didn't finish my ms in time.
    And I love the MG/YA competitions the best too. So keep on keeping on while I stagger to the finishing line with my story.
    Best wishes
    Sheryl

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  72. It's just a timing thing for me. My critique partner tripped over her vacuum and broke her hand. She's healed now so we're getting back on track.

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  73. I think it was just an off month. I don't think you're running out of writers who are eligible and have novels ready to query. Seems to me the internet has a ready supply of those, with more always on the way. I love your community, and was thrilled to be part of last year's Baker's Dozen. But I'm busy doing some heavy revisions, thanks to some feedback, so I've stopped entering contests for a while. Also, it wouldn't hurt to post a reminder on the day. Thanks for all you do.

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  74. I have had two reasons for not entering until now. One: I just graduated at the beginning of this month, and my last semester was crazy busy. Two: I don't have a finished (as in fully finished, I want to send this into an agent right now) manuscript. So for this contest I was ineligible. That said, I would still love to see frequent contests to raise my chances for eligibility (side note, I am almost done with this manuscript).

    I haven't been too frequent on here, because of my busyness, but I would just assume that it might just be a low month.

    Thanks for your hard work.

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  75. 48 entries is still a lot! True, the numbers may be getting diluted because of all the other contests, but if they really do continue to go down, could you not just have 30 entries per SA contest or something? 50 has always seemed quite a lot for agents to go through anyway.

    But absolutely don't stop, as someone said, this blog is the gold standard for contests and I personally love it and have learnt so much here. Just this week I met a bunch of writers for the first time and was telling them all about this place - and I also met an agent who was really interested and said she'd check it out! There will always be new up and coming writers, or people who didn't have something finished in time who now do.

    If, on the other hand, you are getting burned out, that's different. In that case perhaps have two Baker's Dozens a year only, instead? Just a thought. But I would be very sad to see this blog disappear. I've always hoped to one day write my own Success Story :)

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  76. Isuggest you look at the trends, Authoress, before jumping to any conclusions.

    It's a great comp. I've only tried to enter once and it didn't get drawn in the lottery. That and the time dfference has been enough to discourage me, although I've been happy to read those entries that were selected.

    I'll enter the next one my MS is eligible for!

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  77. I am a long-time lurker but have never commented before but this topic screams out for a response. I have worked in the publishing industry for too many years and began when a blog was something you might use a paper towel to wipe up - yes, the world has changed!

    These contests are an excellent way to see what is out there, who is writing it, and what response certain entries garner. There is a huge overlap however between all the contests - i.e. I have usually seen every entry before somewhere. And, given my curmudgeonly state, I fail to see why the same things are being thrown up by the same authors when they clearly do not work.

    This is a harsh business. It is, dear lovers of literature like me, a cruel and unforgiving business. You may have written the best thing you can and there is nothing intrinsically wrong with it - but it either does not sell, will not sell or is just more of the same (read: YA paranormal, fantasy, good girl loved bad boy, snarky female narrator).

    I suggest you use logic filtering to make your bolg a continued success. That means, discount all the comments saying that I entered a manu less than 6 months ago and since it did not work then I want to enter it again. NO! Move on to the next idea.

    Unfortunately you are in the position of receiving advice from the King's Advisor - in other words, those people who still read your blog are the ones who are giving you support (and why wondn't they?) but the peopel you REALLY need to hear from are the ones who have decided it is not for them or have gone on to other things. But, of course (logic again) you won't hear from them since they have already gone.

    So, I can give you the advice I give all the young people whom I may have a chance to mentor or supervise - discount the good and really cherish the bad things that come your way. In other words, in criticism, you will find the key to continued or elusive or lost success. We don't improve or get further along our individual paths unless we embrace what others think we are doing wrong.

    If you want validation, you will always get it from most of those around you. Trust me, as a boss, I know this. It is called ass-kissing. There is a lot of that on this site. And, to be fair, you solicit it.

    Take a leap into the unknown - find out if the small things that people say they don't like have validity and then act on it. Or, just accept that everyone is in love with you and your blog and make no changes or adjustments. That's what most people will do. It is akin to the person who resubmits the same manuscript over and over and over again because the people who don't like it must be wrong. I say again, embrace criticism.

    I have read every single one of the comments above - most are vacuous. IN other words, with a few exceptions, you have received nothing helpful but reinforcement. Why not consider what detractors say? In some of the comments above, few, are some good points. As a professional in this industry, I only laugh and sigh when I see back patting. Because - it leads nowhere. But, it feels good.

    You might find it leads to a very bright future if you really focused on being a serious writer's site. That means opening yourself and everyone else up to some harsh words. Simon Cowell might be a jerk but how many of really think it would be better for Singer Y to pursue a career when thay can't sing? The same should be true of writing...if it does not work, then no one should have trouble saying - this stinks, change it!

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  78. I was going to comment please, please, please don't change a thing - but then I read the anonymous post above!

    And I've gotta say, some of it makes sense, a lot of sense. I often comment on entries and hope that my comments aren't too scathing, even though I have really toned down what I would like to say. Many of the entries are great, but there are more than a few that are simply not even close. I read them and wonder what the rest of the book is like if the first page is an indication.

    But, I think you already know this because you sift through all the Bakers Dozen entries and you know how many are simply not up to scratch.

    So, I'm in a quandary as to what to tell you - one half of me wants nothing to change - but the other half isn't so sure. I guess you should read all the comments with an open mind and try to make an objective decision (it's so hard to cut the subjective side out!!)

    Good luck with whatever you decide, and know that this will still be one of my favourite sites to visit when I sit down with my coffee of an evening no matter what happens.

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  79. I see that there are already 79 comments before mine, so I doubt there's much left to touch upon, BUT I do want to say that SA (to me) seems to be the most non-convoluted contest out there. Meaning that I understood, even as a newbie with ms#1, what I needed to do to submit an entry. That was such a welcome thing when I was starting out in the querying and contest entering process, because everything else I was doing felt like a big, confusing sea of scary. Two and a half years later, I've got my sea legs, but this community you've created for us here is still the one I come home to and the one I'm most comfortable with.

    You're adored, Authoress, face it. We're not leaving you anytime soon. :)

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  80. Anon (publishing insider), one of the reasons the same entries are being entered into various contests is because of subjectivity. In your profession, you know that what may work for one will not work for all.

    In one contest, my first page garnered three requests with praises on the vivid descriptions and characterization. I posted that same first page on this blog, and everyone criticized the lack of characterization. The readers/ writers and agents in one contest loved it, but the readers/writers and agent in an SA contest didn't. Why? Subjectivity.

    Also, many enter these contests to get agent feedback. It's free and easy to get feedback from other writers, but an agent's perspective is very important to fledgling writers.

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  81. To answer your question directly, I think this month is probably an anomaly and I really hope your keep doing them.

    One of the few people with complaints mentioned that some of the critiques have slid into back-patting and cheer leading recently. I am not saying I entirely agree, but I do think it pays to remember that people who participate aren't just learning how to write, revise, and seek an agent - they are learning how to critique, too. I don't know if there's anything that can be done about that, maybe more guidelines, but I know I still feel a little rusty when I critique .I've only participated on one thing - the first kiss - and I definitely focused on just a few things that stood out to me as needing work and didn't go as in depth. Not sure if this is good or bad.

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  82. Sorry I'm late checking in. I'm at Pennwriters Conference. Keep it the same. It gives lots of opportunities and doesn't overwhelm an agent.

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  83. I think someone else said it upthread, but you should probably look at the trends in contest participation, and historical results for previous May SA contests before making any decision. It could be a blip on the radar. It *could* be a trend, or competition with other competitions. We can't tell you that, since we don't have access to that information. All I can say is that my own manuscript wasn't quite ready, but the next time you include 'Adult Literary', it probably will be.

    As for participation in general, I'll also add I am experiencing a bit of blog burnout right now; I can barely keep up with my 2x/week blog, and even visiting and commenting on other blogs is a bit much for me right now. If it's 'going around' as they say, you might see a drop in your numbers, too.

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  84. I love the secret agent contests and learn so much from them. I know in my situation May is an insane month due to all the end of the school year activities. My children have a gazillion tryouts, exams, end of the year parties, etc, which render me unable to devote as much time to my writing. Please don't ever stop. Every contest you have keeps my flame of hope alive that one day I will have an agent bidding on my work.

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  85. I do think that this month's lack of participation can be attributed, mainly, to being an off month. You were competing with both The Writer's Voice (which was also limited to YA and MG this time around) and Query Kombat, and I'm sure many of your potential entrants were holding off because of their involvement with those contests.

    Personally, I never participate in the Secret Agent contests because, as valuable as I think they are, I like to know who I'm sending my query to - even in a contest. When I was new to the querying process, I entered 2 different contests with anonymous judges, and received only hurtful, scathing, "give up on writing, because you suck" comments on my entry... And I did give up for quite a while, because that totally destroyed my confidence. Even now, several years later (in which I've received a lot of praise from agents, editors and published authors I respect), I still hear those anonymous voices in my mind from time to time and worry. Because they're anonymous, so I'll never know if the judges were authors who never read the genre I write or if they were editors who specialize in my genre. I simply don't know how heavily to weigh the comments.

    Granted, you eventually reveal the agent involved in each of your Secret Agent contests, so it's not the same thing as my horror story, but the "secret" part is enough to keep me from entering. Not only is there the shaken confidence factor, but I worry that I'll discover, after I make it into the contest, that the agent participating this month is the one that rejected my query last month. Or the agent that makes me cry every single time I accidentally interact with her on twitter (she's twitter friends with many of my twitter friends, & I try to avoid her, but every once in a while we end up in the same twitter conversation & wind up butting heads - always resulting in off-screen tears for me). Or the agent that I'd considered querying until his updated wish list indicated that he definitely didn't want manuscripts that contained characters who (fill in the blank), & since my manuscript fits that category, it would be a waste of time for both of us.

    In my case, more than anything else, it's the "secret" part of the secret agent contests that keeps me from entering. (I don't have that issue with the Baker's Dozen contest, where the participating agents are revealed in advance.)

    That said, I wouldn't necessarily advocate eliminating the Secret Agent events. I think your contests are supremely well-run and I follow them closely. I encourage my friends to enter. I post the links on the forums for the writing groups I'm a part of. I retweet your reminders about the contests. And I try to stop by when time permits to leave helpful feedback on the entries.

    I'd hate to see you do away with the contests that are so supremely valuable to so many of your readers, even if I can't bring myself to enter. :)

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  86. In regard to the cheerleading going on over the past few months, yes I definitely have seen that. It seems to have come in with a wave of newer blog followers. There are times when one can look at the entry and picture the pom poms.

    That said (and this is only to explain my own comments that are sans a negative sandwiched in the positives), there have been a couple entries (one, this past contest) that simply work, and I--for one--am not going to pick apart something that isn't there, just to do it. When I have run into one of these rare gems, yep, I tell them so. Sometimes I read one of those entries and actually get a wiggle of excitement in my gut for the writer, and I'm moved enough to let him or her know. I believe those writers and entries deserve their kudos, as well as their lumps.

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  87. I know I'm mostly just seconding (thirding, etc. haha) what's already been said but this really has been a butt-kicking month for some of us. I'm a special ed teacher and my kiddos all need new testing and IEPs written to transition them to the next grade. I also have regular ed kids whose last day of school is in two weeks(and therefore their progress notes are due now). Both of my own kids are in baseball, 1 is in karate, and 1 is in band, which means I'm not home, well, ever! I haven't even looked at a blog in the month of May until last night/this morning due to a rainy day. I know I'm not alone in feeling this month race past without so much as a chance to open my own ms. I read above that there wasn't a reminder since May 6th and I can guarantee I would not have remembered in that amount of time!

    I also have incredibly bad luck when it comes to random drawings. My current ms 1st page was entered here and over at WOC as well as one other (for some reason forgotten right now) contest in the last few months and not chosen by the bots in any of them.

    Quality of feedback seems to have dropped over the past couple of years that I've followed the blog contests, too. As mentioned above, there's a lot of rah-rah girls/guys out there as well as a few that go something like "I hate first person" but really don't help. Even the agent comments are so variable they border on non-helpful. I've had a few that said "this is very interesting" or "I love this idea" but when I send them a query reminding them of their comment, I've been universally rejected in the same manner as if I hadn't entered at all.

    One last thought is that there are a few success stories out there as a result of contests (yours and others). I have no doubt that they are authors that - as are most of us that follow and comment on blogs and blog contests - work very hard at their craft. By the time I prepare my entry for submission and hope to be randomly chosen for an agent I may or may not have chosen to query . . . I'd rather research agents, personalize my query, and hope for the best out of the slush. Based on the subsequent number of rejections I get, this opinion could change at any time. ;)
    erica

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  88. I can only speak to my own reasons for not entering--#1 being that I already have an agent, gotten the usual way, by querying, not subbing to a contest. But even before I signed with her, I'd given up on the SA contests because as a schoolteacher on the West Coast, it was pretty much impossible for me to get my entries in during the little submission windows. I managed once, during the summer, and got very interesting feedback, but I found I could learn just as much by reading the feedback agents gave other people.

    There's one other reason. Having a great first page is important. It increases your chances of getting your query read and of getting a request to see more. But signing an agent means having a strong, polished BOOK. A lot more than the first 250 pages. So once I started getting requests but not offers, I stopped hanging out here and started looking for other resources to up my game.

    Actually, I found what I needed in one of your non-SA blog posts, when you started talking about Blake Snyder's Beat Sheet. It worked for me, and that's what got me my agent. So thank you for the blog, whatever changes you decide to make with it.

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  91. I say off month, and what I say goes. Not really. I can pretend though, right? :) Please, PLEASE don't hang the hat on Secret Agent! I'm dying, DYING I say, to finish my WIP so I can take a crack at the crazy. I love the SA contest and LOVE seeing the comment from agents. It's a free inside track to what they like, don't like, what they simply salivate over...and so and and so forth.

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  92. I'd say off month too. I was trying to revise my manuscript in time for this contest, but with everything else I had to do, I didn't get it done, So I'll be in the next Adult contest.

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  93. Oh, please don't stop. Seeing those Secret Agent alerts come up every month are a big part of my drive to get the darned MS finished so I'm eligible to enter!

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  94. Wow, I just read everyone's comments. I haven't submitted again because my MS is not ready. I did submit once about two years ago and I would like to submit again. I do still critque your contests, but lately I've been too busy. When I do critique I do say some positive comments along with the contructive criticism because writers accept criticism better if there is some positive with it. Someone else mentioned that maybe some people don't know how to critque without too much cheerleading. Maybe that is what is happening. I don't follow other blog contests-only yours.I think your whole blog is inspiring and helpful! I hope you continue with the contests. I appreciate your dedication and honsesty, but will understand if you take more time for your own writing. I am amazed at all you find time to do!

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  95. For my part, I knew an agent that "also repped" adults was probably not going to be a good match for my MG/PB career aspirations. Is that helpful?
    These contests rock!! Thank you for your efforts.

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  96. I am in WIP mode and really want to be able to enter a Secret Agent contest once I'm ready; the feedback is phenomenal. So please, keep doing them!

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  97. Probably an off-month, as most others have said. And the weather is nicer, kids are graduating high school, people get busy...

    I've never participated in a SA because I already have an agent, but I do enjoy reading the entries and try to leave comments for as many as I have time for, and I don't sugar coat anything. :) There are few back-pats from me, I can assure you. The honest truth is always best.

    I also think that the climate of publishing is in flux and with the rise of self-publishing, fewer writers feel the need for an agent. Personally, I believe an agent is invaluable no matter what, especially for those of us with our feet in both the indie-pub and trad-pub camps. But it's possible that some writers are focusing on gathering their own personal publishing team and going full out DIY. You don't need an agent for that.

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  98. Karen is bang on. Is anyone old enough to remember when there were travel agents in every strip mall? I think literary agents are going the same way as the DODO. The internet has given everyone access to the world - they just need to market and have a platform.

    That being said, what can never be replaced is feedback. If, as Karen says, she does not sugar coat anything then anyone who gets a review from her is lucky. There are several people I have noticed in the last 2 years who are EXCELLENT critique people - Stephsco, Happy Dolphin, DJ, Lanette all come to mind. But, as was stated above in a few posts, most of the crits now are just either cheers (YOu are the awesomest writer in the history of awesomeness and I can't wait to show this awesome book to my awesome kid).

    I assume most of us are adults on this blog. Let's agree to be literate and find other words to describe our life experiences other than 'cool', 'sucks' or 'awesome'. That vocab works in a very young middle schooler but really should not be part of grown womans's lexicon.

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  99. I didn't enter because I did one last month and my current WIP is in its very early stages. I, too, would hate it if you stopped having the contests. They're a wonderful resource.

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  100. I think part of the problem in the lack of good crtiques comes from the fact that everyone (most people) here leave a name and a link to their own blog. So, obvioulsy, they don't want to be anything other than encouraging because the whol reason they are commenting is to get traffic to their own site. And, I think the long and tortuous anniversary "celebration" turned a lot of people off. You make it sound like this is a real hard, slave-task for you but you have many readers and this is what all authors want - traffic! Plus, I can't fail to notice that you are using that same platform (that you slave over boo hoo) to get business for your edits. Not a bad gig don't you think? So, stop whining and either shut down your blog or stop pretending that it is something that you are chained to. It's money in your pocket and a launch pad for whatever book you might write. Don't pretend you don;t get anything out of it.

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  101. Please don't get rid of them!! I don't comment on here much... Rarely actually, but I still love reading all the entries and seeing the critiques. I love the contests you have because they do show trends in the industry and that's always a good thing to know about.

    Also, if you stop doing them, I won't have a chance to enter when I'm done with other work.

    So, let's just call this a fluke, yeah?

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  102. I have to second what I heard from Happy Dolphin above. IO also was selected as a "winner" in a SA contest and expected a rejection but was hoping for at least feedback - i.e. I don;t like your book because.........

    But the agent never replied, never wrote, never responded to polite nudges....so it made me see this as a farce.

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  103. I guess what finished me for participating was the number of people who just did not comment. I would see entry's with 4 or 5 crits, and wonder what the hell?? Then, wheenver you would post a blog entry there would be 40 or 50 comments almost in a couple hours. So, I realized that most people here don;t contribute in any way, shape or form - don't comment to other writers - don't so anything except be like the life-sucking majority in a classroom that sits and says nothing. No thank you. I want to be part of a site where all people contribute and give back to the community. People who have no time to comment on an entry somehow find the time to comment on your Friday Fric thing. It makes me sick and I hope they reap what they sow.

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  104. The comments on this post, Authoress, are a lot like book reviews. Some are wildly enthusiastic and supportive, and others not so much. But like book reviews, they're subjective and I encourage you to see them for what they are: opinions.

    So please don't take everything said here to heart. Grains of salt are good for more than just seasoning. :) All that's here is food for thought. You know what's best for your blog and I, for one, trust whatever you decide to do going forward. Please know that I love ya lots! Mwah!

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  105. There was a recent blog post related to Cupid's contest that basically told everyone that they shouldn't be entering all the contests - their work would look stale, they would turn agents off, etc, etc...

    The post generated many, many comments- most of them in agreement. I wonder if that post has had an effect on how many contests writes are entering.

    Personally, I think they're great and the only reason I didn't enter is because I already have an offer of representation on the table.

    I think people should just go for it. Throw your work out there everywhere you can and hope that something sticks!

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  106. The demise of this blog is completely out of your hands. For example, your "success stories". We don't need feel good crap like that. What we need is published books- give us the Amazon link and I will download it onto my Kindle. Getting an agent means nothing unless a book is published. It is like having a boyfriend and that means you are pregnant - um, no it doesn't! The only sucess stories are people who actually pubbed a book and not just got an agent. One is hard, the other is harder.

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  107. I completely missed this. It's probably to do with the fact that my youngest went on a school holiday and I've been in a writing frenzy since. I'm so unhappy because I so much would have liked to get some more feedback on one of my MG or YA stories.

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  108. A few days ago there was another post about whether this blog was for "girls and boys". I think from the comments so far we can put that issue to rest. It seems everyone here is a stay at home Mom who writes YA. I have never in my life heard so many references to kids in school and how that somehow means you can;t press send on an entry (but do miraculously find time to comment on a post). 'Nuff said.

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  109. Matthew, it's rare but sometimes the SA's comments get eaten. If you had let Authoress know, she would have contacted the agent. If you looked at all the other entries, you would have seen that it's not a farce. Unfortunately, things don't always go the way people intended, but the agent wouldn't have known that an entry was missed unless she was told. Communication is very important.

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  110. Callie, the issue is not put to rest, at least not in the way you've insinuated. This blog is for writers. Period. Until recent history, writers were primarily men. There's been a shift, but there still remains a long list of men who still write wonderful novels. Even most agents are female, so are you going to accuse the agenting part of the industry to be an all girls club? The fact that more female writers gravitate toward online socialization with other writers merely shows one of the many differences in the psychological makeup between men and women. And if you've ever looked through the comments on SA entries, you'll see that there has always been a sampling of male writers-- Peter Pan, SC, Matthew, Happy Dolphin (I think, I hope I didn't offend you if you're female), and others.

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  111. Dear Lanette,

    I am indeed a happy male dolphin. Sort of. But I feel very close to women which I think is because I grew up as the only male in a house with 3 sisters and a mom (I never knew my father). Also, I had the very enriching experience of going to a week-long writer's conference at the Banff Centre in the "memoir" category (the children's section - which included YA and MG was full) and I was the only guy in a group of 12 writers whe were all female. I learned a lot about how the other half thinks and interacts with the world in a slightly different way than men. This blog is for everyone, as you say, and I wish we could get past male or female as if it was some touchstone of writing. To me, it is meaningless because what counts is an open heart and an open mind and I have never known that to be geneder specific. That being said, I would much rather hang out with the girls then the boys because, whether an accident of gentics or not, the convo is apt ot be much more enriching and interesting.

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  113. Perhaps the most important thing I learned here at MSFV is writerly humility, tact, patience, and gratitude. My first ms was eviscerated. I wasn't expecting it, and it took me down a notch. In dealing with my fellow writers, blog owners and agents, I learned how to say what I need to say with seriousness and diplomacy, as well as humor when it's called for. I've watched others here grow and get agented as I wait my turn, and their success stories keep that little spark of "one day" alive in my belly. My second manuscript won a partial, which led to a full--for that and all that I've learned from Authoress' site and my peers through the years--I am thankful. Much more so than I'd be if I snagged the gold ring on my first try. I like myself and my work better, as well.

    We writers seem to come in two camps: those who support and constructively criticize (and who make suggestions when things aren't working), and those who tear one another apart for the sake of our own bruised egos (who condemn and shout they can do it all better, though don't offer that "better" with their own labor). I'd rather be in the former camp than the latter; those in each camp have now outed themselves.

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  114. I take great offense at the above comment. You seem to be suggesting that critiques are based on either support or bile, If we say gosh this is great then we are being supportive and if we say this does not work at all then we are being vindictive. I mean, really? I don't need to know what works in my 250, I need to know what DOESN'T. And I think all criticism is valuable if it points out where I am missing something. You, on the other hand, seem to have had a bad experience and are now casting aspersions on everyone based on the fact your wee feelings were hurt in life. Grow up.

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  115. My Dear Dolphin -- I think you've misunderstood her. She wasn't talking about negative critiques; she was talking about negative attitudes and ugly behavior/comments that seek to tear others down instead of build them up. Kranky has been nothing but supportive and encouraging here, and she is in favor of constructive criticism, as she said above.

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  116. Well that certainly puts me in my place. After 116 comments, some of them scathing, the only time you felt the need to respond was to slap ME down? :) It is basically saying I am not welcome but thank you for being so clear about it. PS - like your Crow friend, I also contributed but that time is now gone. Good luck and peace. Out.

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  117. High drama, my Dolphin friend. You have always been welcomed here.

    You know perfectly well that I wasn't "slapping you down". I was clarifying a misconception.

    I now regret not having responded to your lovely comment to Lanette above, which I greatly appreciated. But it is my general rule to stay out of the comment box when things start getting stirred...and your response to my last comment is good example of why I've made that choice.

    I should have followed my own, self-imposed rule. ;)

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  118. Dolphin, don't leave. You're one of the regulars whose comments I always look for. I've learned a lot on this blog, even when it's not my submission, by reading the critiques of others, and you are one of the writers I respect most on this blog because of the high quality of your critiques.

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  119. BTW, what happened to the SA? I don't think I've ever seen one not make a single comment this late into the contest.

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  120. Lanette, apparently the SA has the comments saved and is planning on posting them later tonight (I always encourage them to save the comments because of the way Blogger randomly eats posts sometimes!). I agree this is later than usual (but I've bee in contact with the SA, so I'm not twitching...)

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  121. Okay. Thank you. I'm not in this one, but I read every sub and every SA comment.

    I really am obsessed. Maybe I should re-think my life. :)

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  122. LOL I think you're just fine.

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  123. @Happy Dolphin: Ouch. I'm sorry my comment was not taken as intended. You were not, at all, one I was speaking about. Your comments are always insightful, carefully worded, and constructively worded...which is what I said I have learned from this blog and my peers here; I would have easily counted you in the first camp, so I'm scratching my head at the reaction, honestly. The ones I was speaking of, as I wrote, are the ones who are "shouting" and condemning, non-constructively, and there have been plenty of those is this 100+ comment feed.

    I don't think Authoress was playing favorites (as a regular commenter, I'm sure you're one of hers); I think she just wanted to make sure nothing took a personal turn, as it could have.

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  124. Authoress:

    All savvy writers know that if you show fifty critics a particular piece of work, you're going to get fifty different comments on it, many of them in direct conflict with each other.

    The secret is to swirl all the comments around in the pan, carefully sloshing the sand over the side, and wait for the bits of gold to show. It isn't easy, but assuming it's all gold is a recipe for discouragement and paralysis.

    Same for the comments on this thread. There's some gold here to be sure, but don't let the sand get down your shorts.

    (Wow, can I strangle a metaphor or what?)

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  125. PLEASE don't stop your contests! I've been waiting for my YA and MG genres to come up, and was going to enter MG this last contest and had a family emergency. I'm watching and waiting for your next contest that fits my genres. Please, Authoress, you're awesome and so are your contests!! don't stop!

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  126. I used to ALWAYS retweet announcements of the contests, but now, I realize, I simply don't see them since Twitter has become so crowded. (And, alas, I stopped visiting and commenting because my own writing career reached that no-spare-time phase.)

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  127. I'm late to the party, but glad I got to read through the comments. I think it would be helpful to post comment guidelines the day of, when the SA entries go up. Critiquing is tough; providing constructive criticism without reducing to unhelpful statements like "this doesn't work" without saying why, or "this feels 'told'" (my personal least favorite) is not easy, I think it's something learned over time.

    Seeing several comments here about waning quality posts is a good reminder that this blog's readers are looking for real feedback and not just a pat on the back. That can be tough sometimes, since critiquing IS so subjective, and sometimes I wonder, who am I to say this intro doesn't work? I also don't want to needlessly pick apart an entry that does a great job. If something really intrigues me, I want to say it!

    Take this as you will, but I do think that 50 entries a month is a lot to go through and comment on. I would love to leave a critique on every entry, but day job, writing, life etc., it's tough. I tend to comment on those that are my genre of interest, or titles that grab me, and sometimes the entries that have fewer comments. Perhaps if lesser quantity is a trend, maybe reduce the number of entries per month.

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  128. Whoa whoa whoa, first off, we need those contests! Don't stop them! Second, let's ask if this is a trend--you know better than any of us, since you actually run the contests, but I feel like if I go back through my inbox to all the MSFV contest posts and see how many entries you put up, it seems like the numbers haven't been going down consistently enough for a statistician to say, "it's a trend." It's gotta be an off-month.

    Besides, 48 is still a LOT of people for the Secret Agent to go through! Also, new visitors to the blog five months from now may appear who miss the opportunity for monthly contests. Those future people need you!

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  129. Please don't stop! I LOVE this contest, and I'm just waiting until my six months is up and I can submit again. Thanks so much for doing them!

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