You know what I love? CONTESTS! I've thrown a couple, participated in some, and watched even more from the sidelines.
Now that I have an agent, I'm pretty much permanently relegated to the sidelines, content to watch everyone else enter their shiny word babies. Despite not entering anymore, I still neurotically refresh the blog page announcements, hoping to see the names of people I know! Cheering friends on as they flail, and shake, and HOPE that this pitch, this query, that first page will garner some agent/ editor interest.
Because these contests are an AMAZING opportunity to get your work seen by someone who can make your dreams come true. And man, it can be hard to get in at all.
Whether it's rafflecopter with a binary grudge keeping you out; slush readers who didn't respond to your pitch; a submission window you missed, there are plenty of things that you are up against before you even get selected as a finalist.
And those don't include other people.
Other people with better pitches. Other people with edgier concepts. Other people with faster fingers, faster internet connections who fill up that sub window before your crappy laptop can even refresh the window.
You're up against SO MUCH.
And that's not counting GREEDY ASSHOLES. Writers who submit pitches for an unwritten manuscript just to see if it's worth writing. Writers who don't plan on submitting their work, but wanting free feedback about their work.
Writers who already HAVE agents.
Read that last sentence again. Because it's happened twice that I know of in the past couple contests.
*disclaimer* These aren't writers I personally know. But they were rumbled by an acquaintance of mine, and I won't put her in an awkward position by naming names here. Hopefully the offenders take this public shaming for what it is.
If you HAVE an agent, honey, you are being a HUGE, THROBBING ASSHOLE if you enter an agent-judged contest. I get it. It's exciting. You want to be a part of that! BUT HAVE SOME SELF-CONTROL! STOP being a FUCK-SHOVEL! THINK about what you are doing!
Maybe you didn't realize, but you are taking the place of someone who NEEDS that opportunity! This could have been THEIR big break, their path to a dream coming true, and YOU HAVE TAKEN IT FROM THEM because you just HAD to enter the contest, swept up in the excitement of it all. Wanting the free feedback from other agents/ people who read the pitches.
That is disgustingly selfish.
And I've seen this TWICE in the past TWO contests. But what makes me worry is that these probably aren't the only two offenders. Chances are there have been more that squeaked in there, stealing someone's place. EATING THEIR CAKE!
Writers - don't do this. Contests are an invaluable potential goldmine for getting an agent's attention. I myself found my agent from a contest. MY contest. But I didn't even enter my own contest because I thought that was douchey.
OH, how I WANTED to enter. But I exercised restrains and self control. I didn't want to take someone else's place. Block someone else's dream.
Because THAT would have been WRONG. Maybe not technically. But morally.
Writers, we need to support each other. This industry is FULL of landmines of self-doubt. Rejections. Subjectivity. Saturated genres. Agents closed to submissions. There are enough opportunities we miss out on without having to worry about others deliberately blocking our chances.
To those who have been Opportunity-Blockers, SHAME ON YOU. STOP DOING THIS!