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Are competitions worth it in order to get published?

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I have recently finished my 25,000 word novella and contacted some publishers and agents about a month ago. I have only heard back from a couple rejecting me but considering the format of my book as well as the fact that it is highly experimental and does not fall into any specific genre, I do not find it highly probable to get published as it is despite its quality.

I was thinking that a good way to get my name out there would be to take part in short story competitions but I am not sure if it is worth the time or if a better alternative would be finishing a longer book and trying to get that published first.

Your opinions on the subject are greatly appreciated and if you think that I should apply some different strategy all together I would love to hear that.

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This post was sourced from https://writers.stackexchange.com/q/48923. It is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

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5 answers

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A win in any contest in any field is valued in proportion to the quality of its entries. Winning a Pulitzer or an Nobel will do wonders for your career. Winning the Podunk County Fair Short Story Competition, not so much.

However, publishing is a business. They publish work that can sell. It is not a homogenous market. They publish work that can sell in many different niche markets. But they only serve niche markets that are large enough to offer some hope of revenue. The niche for highly experimental 25,000 word novellas is vanishingly small. Winning contests is not going to change that.

The method for attracting the attention of the publishing industry is as simple in conception as it is difficult in execution: write a commercially viable book.

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I have recently finished my 25,000 word novella and contacted some publishers and agents about a month ago. I have only heard back from a couple rejecting me but considering the format of my book as well as the fact that it is highly experimental and does not fall into any specific genre, I do not find it highly probable to get published as it is despite its quality.

If you are in contact with those agents/publishers, I'd advise trying to get feedback on why they rejected your book, instead of assuming that it's due it being "highly experimental despite its quality". Maybe you're overlooking something.

Anyway, you can always finish a longer book. But it's also a good moment to hone your editing skill, getting beta readers, and understand what your target audience should be. Maybe one of the problem of your book is that you didn't "pitch" it well enough.

If all of those options don't work out and you find that there is no more editing to be done on your 25000 words novel, joining competitions is surely better than leaving it in a folder.

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You will not succeed in getting agents and publishers to tell you why they rejected your MS. They reject hundreds every day. They don't have time to give reasons, nor is there any benefit to them to do so. There are ways to get critiques of your submission materials though, through conferences and webinars such as those put on by Writer's Digest. Mark Baker 11 days ago


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It's a good idea to get feedback on your writing. I don't know if you did that before sending it out, since you don't mention it one way or the other. If you haven't, try looking for a critique group, use Scribophile, or find someone whose feedback you can trust to be a beta reader. There may be useful information to help tell you what might be the reason for the rejections and to help improve overall.

You can definitely write short stories and send them to contests, but don't ignore the many journals that are out there (both print and online) as possible venues for your writing. Also, many contests charge fees and most journals do not. Gaining writing credits may help with getting agents and publishers to give you a chance, but by themselves likely won't grant your work acceptance.

More and more, as I understand it, publishers do look for the author to have a platform and followers (to make them confident there will be buyers) and a part of that platform will come from people reading your short stories.

It's a complicated mix of quality and exposure. Good luck!

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This post was sourced from https://writers.stackexchange.com/a/48972. It is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

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I hate competitions. In a competition, many people submit their work. For the majority, there is no feedback, and no positive outcome. It does not make you better, while creating stress.

Now say you can find some sort of a group, either a class or a group of writers. It could be one other writer. Each time you meet, you read something you have written, and you receive feedback. You also give feedback. It is a much better process.

You can achieve similar process online where you submit work, and read others comments about it.

I'm sorry that this is negative. Publishing is a tough business.

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This post was sourced from https://writers.stackexchange.com/a/49054. It is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

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Mostly no. They are just money makers for the people creating them.

If you want to sell a mss it is easier to sell what they want to buy than to convince them to buy what you want to sell.

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This post was sourced from https://writers.stackexchange.com/a/49055. It is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

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