ecause there just wasn’t enough space under my bed for any more manuscripts, I was determined to have my dark humour, paranormal, social commentary, women’s fiction, murder mystery become a novel—agented and traditionally published. And so, after paying for a professional development edit and following all of the very good advice I received, I started the joyful task of querying agents. I was buoyed by the immediate, positive responses I received: several requests for partial and full manuscripts. I was less floaty when agent-after-agent—55 in total—passed. Many wrote back with comments that all sounded pretty similar, “You have an engaging voice as a writer and the characters and story are interesting, but I can’t think of a single publisher who would publish … whatever this genre is that you’ve written.” Blub, blub, blub. Discouraged, and with my confidence swimming with the fishes at the bottom of Howe Sound, I tossed out the Irish sweater my grandma knit me when I was 17 to make room under my bed for one. more. manuscript. Almost a year after receiving that last agent’s, “thanks, but no thanks,” I was tagged in a tweet, “Congratulations to @donnabarker, winner of the Chatelaine award for best Mystery/Suspense.” Huh? I didn’t even remember having entered a contest. But I had, 15 months earlier. Looking at all of the other category winners, I realized that my entry was in the minority, being only a manuscript — that most of the other award-winners were real books being read by real-life readers. This gave me the boost of confidence that I needed to say, “to heck with being an agented author with all their silly rules about needing to write in one clear genre,”
and to self-publish Mother Teresa’s Advice for Jilted Lovers. While my contest win gave me what I needed to make the leap from aspiring to published author, I realize that many authors have different “Why bother?” reasons for entering writer’s contests. So, I asked a few for their thoughts. Why bother? BC Authors share their thoughts on contests Lawrence Verigen, multi-award-winning author of the Dark Seed Trilogy says he has “no doubt that writing contests are of great benefit to authors and their creations… “Being a finalist and winner of an award gives you third-party, respected recognition for your work. That means someone out there thinks your book is better than the other books entered. The intent is for readers to have extra confidence that your book will be time well-spent and enjoyed, which adds up to more exposure and sales.” Kath Curran, author of Before It Was Easy, and a Finalist for the Whistler Independent Book Awards, believes that, “To be successful, a new book by an unknown author needs two things: writing that is good enough to charm or at least engage its readers, and a bit more good luck than bad. “By putting our name and our work in front of many individuals at once, whether we win or not, a writing contest amplifies our book’s chances of finding its audience. Yes, even if we win the contest, the odds of success remain small. But they are bigger than before, and it is by such active measures that we incrementally build our own luck.” That’s the same reason why Mary Ann Clarke Page 29 ◆ WordWorks ◆ Spring 2018
This special 40-page issue deals with publishing, and so much more!