And so another Baker's Dozen draws to a close.
The one-week exclusive for winning agents began yesterday. Next Thursday, I will begin sending out agent requests for the Things They Didn't Win. I will also send out requests from Skulking Agents. (That is, agents who poked around the contest, saw things they liked, and asked me to send requests.)
So even though it SEEMS like it's over, the Baker's Dozen keeps zipping along behind the scenes.
I can't thank everyone enough--truly. Everyone who entered, everyone who critiqued, everyone who cheered. And, of course, I appreciate the bravery of the 60 winners. (Yes, bravery. It's like standing in the grocery store naked. Or something.)
Agents...editors...published authors. Thank you all.
Yes, I'm planning on doing this again next year. Absolutely. Beyond that, though, I can't say. For the last two years, blog hits on the day of the auction have DECREASED. This means that, although I'm getting the same amount of interest in actually entering the contest, the auction itself is losing its audience.
It might be this: "Well, I didn't enter, and I'm not really interested."
It might be this: "Well, I entered, but I didn't get chosen, so I'm outta here. This is too painful."
It might be this: "Well, I entered, but I didn't get chosen, so I'm on to the next exciting online event."
Here's the thing. When I started this blog, there was almost nothing like it out there. Now, five years later, there are all sorts of author contests. So many, in fact, that agents have complained about it. Overkill. Same-entries-everywhere-on-the-web.
I hear that. And I lament it.
I don't lament that there are lots of exciting choices for writers out there. WRITERS NEED THINGS TO HELP THEM CONNECT TO THE PUBLISHING INDUSTRY. But I do lament that there's so much hoopla that it's wearying the agents and spreading the writers thin.
There's a certain "high" about being in an online contest (you know it's true). And my concern is that some aspiring authors are jumping from high to high instead of buckling down to the important-but-hated task of querying. YES, people win contests and go on to receive representation--and even book deals. But QUERYING IS STILL THE NUMBER ONE WAY TO GET AN AGENT.
My initial vision for this blog was to create a place where authors could critique each other's work. A place to work on quality of writing. In short order, I conceived the Secret Agent concept, and it took off with great gusto. I kept it simple, though, and still do--one agent, 50 entries, focus on critique. Many of the contests out there are so convoluted that I can't even understand how they work. (Yeah, okay--that might just be me. If I have to read too many instructions, I lose interest. It's the whole divergent brain thing.)
For most writers, though, the "high" remains. And regardless of how great the contests are and how many success stories they ultimately lead to, I fear that, for some writers, it's like eating too much candy.
Not so good for you.
(And think about it: If you're jumping from contest to contest with your novel, then when, exactly, are you sitting down and seriously revising it?)
So, yes, I'm cutting down on the number of Secret Agent contests I do next year. I will publish the schedule at the end of this month, so you will know what to expect. I want to continue to offer high quality contests and critique on this blog, and I'm confident that we will continue to have success stories here. But I don't want to be a part of the too-much-noise problem online.
As for the Baker's Dozen? Like I said, I'm planning to do it again next year. But it's disheartening, to say the least, to work so hard on something and then lose the audience to the next promise of candy out there. (And, hey. You can eat as much candy as you want--I'm not your mama! But someone's got to do something about the overkill, right?)
Choose your contests carefully. You don't need to hit them all. Give yourself time to JUST SIT THERE AND WORK YOUR BUTT OFF ON YOUR NOVEL. Because that's what's going to sell it. Not feeling all the sparkles from the every-other-month contests you're entering. Not throwing it out there over and over again without making it better first.
Be SMART about how you get your work out there.
(And, for what it's worth, I didn't land my agent through a contest. I, yanno, queried him. And he is one of the best things that's ever happened to my career. Without a single contest sparkle.)
Love you all! May your weekend be refreshing, and may words tumble effortlessly from your fingers.