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?
I think you nailed it. Keep writing, keep writing, keep writing...until that phone rings. :)
Maybe I am too simple minded, but I haven't given the GH entry I sent in a single thought since I heard it arrived. Is there something wrong with me?
Years ago I used to watch the calendar for contest results, now I let it go as soon as it is outta here. Maybe it is my reflex for survival after so many disappointing results. What do you think?
I haven't though about it either. I mailed it a while ago and I've been preparing to enter Harlequin's "So You Think I Can Write" contest. And, I've been writing the next book. Your suggestions are spot on!
Thank you all for the comments. I think the longer your write the easier it is to forget about contest entries. I try to always have a dozen things going so I don't have time to think. But for a new writer, those first contests really feel like they are make-or-break and the first rejection letters can be devastating. The important thing to remember is that there will always be another opportunity, you just have to seek them out.
Clarissa, great advice. Keep writing, update your website, build your platform with social networking, keep writing.
Honestly, I need to go in and unjumble the last third of my entry. Golden Heart final round judges get the finalists' entries in mid-April. Last year, no requests were made for fulls until June 2, but in 2009 requests were being made by the third week of April.
Don't know If this one will final, but I need all the time between now and April to make my baby presentable.
Thank you, Jill and Elisa.
Elisa, You are absolutely write about getting the manuscripts ready. I'm in the same situation.
Clarissa - I always enjoy your blogs, but am struck by a comment you wrote in response to the discussion "But for a new writer, those first contests really feel like they are make-or-break and the first rejection letters can be devastating. The important thing to remember is that there will always be another opportunity, you just have to seek them out." This is where I am. I flip between being overwhelmed at the sheer improbability of success to buzzed on a new idea. The blogs on this website AND the comments offered by the writers are especially important to help a novice stick it out. Thank you
Great post! I will remember if the time ever comes. LOL.
Yup, you nailed it, Clarissa -- keep writing, start the next book. I'm working on my 2012 GH entry novel right now and, because I'm slow, I'll have just enough to finish it and polish it to death by next year's deadline.
Sigh, the life of a writer ;-)
I'd put my Golden Heart entry out of my mind until I read your post, Clarissa. I'm working on next year's entry and entering chapter contests and, and, and. :)
I sent out my Historical Golden Heart entries and breathed a sigh of relief. Now I'm working on my next story--a romantic suspense.
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