It’s been a week since the Golden Heart deadline. The mad rush to edit, print, and mail is over. By now, everyone knows whether their entry was accepted, or by some catastrophe, disqualified. We’ve had time to catch up on all those household chores we set aside in our singular obsession to get the darn thing mailed. With the holiday season, there should be plenty of parties, decorating, shopping, and travel to make us forget all about the Golden Heart.
Still, some writing friends tell me they are so wound up by the contest that they just can’t seem to get back into a writing routine. More than one writer has asked me, “How do you just send it and forget it?”
The best solution is to write the next book.
Here are some other suggestions for those who find themselves paralyzed while waiting for the results:
Imagine the Call: What would you do if they called to say you were a finalist? Polish your manuscript? Send out a flurry of queries? Drop fifty pounds? Fix that gap between your teeth? Whatever it is, start working on it today. As a former finalist, I can tell you there’s not enough time to do all the things you need to do before RWA Nationals in June. The first thing they’ll ask you for is your pen name and a professional author’s photo to be flashed up on the Jumbotron during the award ceremony. You’ll need them anyway when you sell your first book. You might as well get started.
Now Imagine the Opposite: So what if you don’t final? You’re still going to sell your book, aren’t you? Why wait? Polish up your query and start submitting. With any luck, you’ll sell your novel and be ineligible for the Golden Heart next year.
Get Ready for Next Year: This is the perfect time of year for career planning. Where do you see your writing career in one year? Five years? Give it some thought before you make your New Year’s resolutions. Then think about what specific steps will lead to that goal and make a plan. Consider taking a writing class or entering another contest. A significant number of Golden Heart finalists enter smaller contests throughout the year to prepare.
Develop Your Online Presence: There’s never enough time for promotion after you’ve sold your book. Now is the time to build your support network and develop an online presence. Join a group blog, develop your website, learn how to use social media.
But above all, write.
I would love to hear your advice for forgetting about the Golden Heart or any other big submission. What do you do to distract yourself during the waiting periods?