As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been waiting to hear the results from a writing contest I entered last week. Alas, the winners were announced today and I wasn’t one of them. Whomp whomp.
HOWEVER, I still feel like a winner because I got my first RFP in this contest. RFP stands for “Request For Pages” and as my talented actress/singer friend Alice put it, it’s basically like call-backs for writers. In this contest, some editors had a hundred submissions in the first HOUR of the submission window, and they could only choose one. Those… aren’t great odds.
Each entrant submitted a Query Letter (like a cover letter for a book) and the first five pages of their story. After reading through submissions, editors did #tenqueries on twitter, where they post a little anonymous blurb about a submission, with the genre, a comment, and an indication of whether they are interested in reading more. For example, something like “Thriller. Slow start. Needs more action. Pass.” or “Fantasy. Too much dialogue, but great voice. Maybe.”
The goal of tenqueries is to help everyone improve their work. After all, if a bunch of editors say, “Slow start. Needs to be more exciting” and you’re looking at your first few pages, thinking maybe they start kinda slow… Well, it’s a gentle nudge to fix things that may not be working. Some of the editors were willing to confirm or deny guesses, too, in which case the feedback was especially useful.
I spotted one that I thought might be mine:
Translation: Young Adult Soft Science Fiction. Muddy Query Letter but premise and pages- WOW! Hooked me, showed conflict, quirky main character. Short List.
I spent the evening presenting my case to my husband about why it could be mine. “It’s my genre! It was one of the first she posted and I submitted early! I DO have a cool premise! My query is TOTALLY muddy!” and on and on. He put up with me. (And I edited my query letter- ha!)
The editor did eventually confirm that it was mine (YAY!) and I got an RFP from her, which was very exciting and encouraging even though I didn’t end up as her final pick. Still, the odds were literally less than 1% so I can’t exactly sulk in my cheerios.
She also said that she’d be sending more detailed feedback to all of the writers she requested pages from so I’m looking forward to that. Seeing as the entire point of this contest was to get feedback for revisions, this is an awesome consolation prize.
All that to say- I wasn’t a winner, but I’m feeling encouraged and ready to dive back in for another round of edits, and then another contest. After all, if I got a WOW for my first five pages, then theoretically I can make the rest of them WOW-worthy too, right?