Tuesday, November 3

Golden Heart?!!!

I'm debating.

No surprise there. Anyone who knows me, knows I like to think, to go over things (ok obsess) until my mind is all cluttered up.
This is no exception. I cannot decide to enter, or not enter the Golden Heart this year.

Some facts.
I did not burn up the contest circuit this summer. I entered six and this is the breakdown:
1 win.
2 3rds.
2 4ths going into the finals. I didn't make the finals in the Molly, which was kind of my gauge at the time whether to do any more contests.
1 big bomb, scores so low it wasn't mentionable in public!

Then this fall, I entered two more. One hasn't been announced yet, the other one I am in the finals.

Not bad, pretty good, but is Golden Heart material?

On one of the contest loops, one woman has finaled in something like 12 contests this year! Whew! I'm nowhere near that number.

Then there's the moolah. I'm not RWA, so I have to join at $100, right before X-mas, plus the entry fee of $50. That's a lot of change, when I have 16 horses on my feed bill!

But...I did do pretty well in contests this year, I really want to go to Nashville this year and my gut is telling me my ms is ready for the contest. I didn't say it would win, I said it was ready.

I entred one other time, and got scores all over the board. From the bottom to perfect. That was over a decade ago.

What would you do?


  1. D'Ann, I can't speak to the money portion as that's a personal choice you'll have to make. But I think the manuscript is definitely ready.

    I've never entered the GH, but I think it's like the Academy Awards. It's nice recognition from your peers, but it doesn't mean you're the best if you win or the worst if you lose. And it doesn't guarantee your career.

  2. Thanks, Anon!
    I appreciate your thoughts!

  3. Hi D'Ann,
    That's such a hard decision, to enter to not to enter the GH. Especially since it is expensive (particularly for you, not being RWA,) and because the GH doesn't offer feedback.

    For me, the Golden Heart is a personal talisman. Entering the GH two years ago was my "Objective"; it signaled that I had completed a manuscript--my first (was it ready? probably not...it finished in the upper 25 percent.)

    Knowing that entering is expensive, knowing I probably won't final, still I enter because it represents a goal that I've set for myself.

    With your contest finals this year, you might very well have a chance. You truly never know who is going to final.

    Go for it. Plus, you'll have joined RWA--and that will be worth it.

    Good Luck!!
    Barb H

  4. Thanks, Barb.
    I hadn't considered entering the GH this year at all, until just recently, and it's been eating at me.
    Good job being the top 25%! Awesome!

  5. This is a bit of a cheat, but take a look at Amy Talley's post at www.rubyslipperedsisterhood.com/rss/index.php/dont-enter-the-golden-heart/
    for food for thought.

    Reallly, it all comes down to you. Only you know! Good luck, either way.

  6. You miss 100 percent of the shots you don't take. Take the shot.

  7. Left two comments over there, Jamie! LOL!
    Yeah, I think I'll jump. I think.

  8. Thanks, Anon.
    You're right, of course.

  9. I'll go ahead and be the naysayer - it is a debate, after all.

    Coupla factors to consider: A)Are you writing with intent to publish or writing for peer recognition? Because the ratio of contracts to GH winners simply doesn't justify all the hoopla. Last year when I opted out of entering the GH and let my RWA membership go, this was a big decider. Back when the First Sales column included details, I was amazed by the number of authors who'd finaled or won multiple years, before making a sale. And if you are after peer recognition, why not spend the $150 entering lots of local writing contests? Besides neat ceremonies people you know can attend, winners often receive prizes - and general writing contest judges aren't half as snarky. Factor B) Compared to RWA chapter contests, the GH judging system is (ridiculously)simple. Too simple. It's the luck of the draw - 3 (often untrained) judges assign your entry a single score between 1 and 9 in .1 increments - and I know because I've judged, the citeria is entirely too subjective. It's a silly system. And if Judge #2 happens to be in a crappy mood the day she reads your entry, (even if #1 and #3 give you high 8s) whammo! you're completely out of the running, with no recourse.

    Personally, I think your odds are just as good with sinking the cash in postage stamps and sending out 300 snail queries to agents. (yep, rather lotterylike)

    But that's just my (jaded, and happily sold no thanks whatsoever to RWA) opinion.

  10. Hi, Piper.
    Yeah, I've thought a lot about this side, too. I haven't been RWA since the old CWRW went south, and I haven't missed it much, except foe the lower contest fees!

  11. If the money is the only thing holding you back, and you really want it...I say give it to yourself as a Christmas present. :)

    Seriously, I think your MS is great and the more positive attention - like contest finals - it receives the better. You never know what might happen....

  12. Thanks, Kristi!
    Money is a factor, I hate to throw it away.
    But I could do it. Told you I can't decide! I'm in, I'm out.
    I'm nuts!

  13. I've only entered one contest twice. I entered my chapter's Southern Heat contest 2007 and 2008. I got good feedback but terrible scores on 2007, I was a newbie. I thought I knew what I was doing-rofl. Then in 2008 I entered one I had been running through critiques. It won first place, I was stunned. I mailed off the partial 6 months later but now 4 months later no word and I am sure the word will be not quite there yet. I didn't think it was ready but after being prodded and pushed I sent it off. IF I get rejected it will be no big deal the fact that I won and submitted is a step for me. I've entered no contests this year, a) I had nothing ready and b) money was a bigger issue this year not to mention my husband's health tanked in May and I spent the summer on the road carrying him to doctors. He's better for now we'll have to wait and see how he does from here. In the meantime I participated in Unleash Your Story in Sept still working on that story and started one for NaNo Sunday. Maybe later in 2010 I will be able to enter one or both in contests and see what happens from there.

  14. I hope things get better for you. And congrats on the contest win!

  15. Ringing in late here, as usual, and I'm a naysayer, too. I don't think the GH is a big-enough bang for the buck because there IS no feedback allowed. I love RWA and would miss it a lot if I quit, but the GH/RITA are not even the tiniest little part of the reason.

    Chapter contests, OTOH, are great when it comes to getting your money's worth. Not that you always like what you get, or that all judges are great, but so many finalists' entries find their way to an editor's desk or even an agent's. This is a whole lot better than an obscure number on the GH.

    Use or lose, and good luck whichever way you go.

  16. Are you still debating? Entering the GH is like entering the lottery. Any contest requires the stars to align so that you get 3 or 4 judges who like your piece enough that you final. If you're like most authors with a good ms. when you don't final you end up with 2 judges who loved it and 1 who doesn't. That's very typical because judging fiction is so subjective.

    You've clearly got a good ms. because it has jumped that hurdle a few times with all the judges loving it. So--you've got a decent chance at finalling in the GH. While that doesn't mean a pub contract and even winning doesn't mean a pub contract, it does mean getting an editors attention. It does mean having a big credential on your resume every time you query anyone in the future. Everyone knows and recognizes the GH. Many editor/agents aren't familiar with all the local contests, but they all know the GH. If you win it and the book is published, the publisher may use the GH win to call you an "award winning author." They won't do that with the local contests.

    So--the GH is a big deal, IMHO. But it is also a longshot because it's huge and as subjective as any other contest. So, the real question is--do you feel like gambling?

  17. GH is something I know I've been debating, especially with the deadline to register looming. Thanks for asking this question, D'Ann, and to all of you who have shared their thoughts and opinions!

  18. I'm weighing in on this late, D'Ann, but after reading what others wrote, I think it comes down to this: You have a good chance to final, but as with all contests, you're taking a chance. Like some have said above, it's a gamble. I have very limited experience with contests and none with the GH, but in making any decision it often comes down to listing the pros and cons. Make your decision by whichever list is longer. However, some things might count double. Like if you really, really want to do it. That might even count triple. But if you feel like you'll be overwhelmed with disappointment if you don't final, that could count double or triple on the con side. Then again, the possibility of getting editor/agent attention is a big pro. Only you can decide if it's worth the risk.

    As far as the money, I didn't have it to renew my RWA membership when it came up last month, so I just put it on a charge card. Fiscally irresponsible, yes. Especially since I already have heavy credit card debt. But I didn't want my membership to lapse. There again, you have to ask if it's worth it. Do you really, really, REALLY want to enter the GH?

  19. Hi ~
    I'm coming down on the con side. Feedback is the most important result of a contest, and the GH doesn't give any. Why put yourself through that emotional rollercoaster without the guarantee of at least a little constructive criticism? Enter chapter contests with that money instead - you still have a shot at being read by editors and agents.

  20. Hi, all.
    Thanks for helping me choose. I really appreciate all the feedback.
    These are the two things I keep going over...
    It's a lot of money.
    I really want to win that thing.
    I keep going round and round and round with it.