Thursday, September 3, 2020

Dear O'Abby: Should I enter Pass or Pages?

Dear O'Abby,

I see you guys at Operation Awesome are running a Pass or Pages competition later this month.  I've always been reticent about entering contests because I've never really understood their value.  Can you tell me why I should enter?  Or not enter?



Dear Contestable,

Entering contests is a purely personal choice.  You don't have to, by any means.  Traditional querying of your manuscript or sending it directly to small presses or self-publishing is equally valid.

Contests are supposed to be fun.  If you don't find them fun, then don't enter.

Pass or Pages is a little different from some other contests in that Operation Awesome asks a panel agents who represent the genre the contest is focusing on to judge the entries and provide feedback.  If your query isn't working out there in the trenches, it might be a good opportunity to get professional feedback on why it isn't working.  Ditto your opening page.

It is also a good chance to get a peek into the personal tastes of the judging agents.  Maybe you think another entry in the pool is remarkable and you'd pick it up in a second if it was on the shelf in your local bookstore, yet one of the agents tears both the query and the opening pages to shreds.  This might be something that indicates you and this agent might not be a great fit, so you might decide to cross her off your querying list.

Alternatively, this might be something that gives you a fresh perspective on your own work, a kind of lightning moment that makes you realize something you thought worked well, really doesn't.

At the end of the day, I'm not going to tell you whether you should or shouldn't enter Pass or Pages or any other contest.  All I can say is that I've received a lot of really great feedback through competitions, met a lot of other writers, some of whom have become valued readers/critique partners, and felt much more connected to the writing community as a result.  I've even received full requests, offers of representation and for publication through contests, so for me, they seem to work.

If you do decide to enter Pass and Pages, we'll look forward to reading your entry!

And good luck!

X O'Abby

1 comment:

J.S. Pailly said...

"Contests are supposed to be fun. If you don't find them fun, then don't enter."

I think this is a really important point. You can learn a lot about writing and the publishing industry by participating in these sorts of contests, but you can learn a lot by doing other things too. So if you're having a miserable time, it's okay to focus your attention on something different.