We break up for the Easter holidays today. I am sure Easter was on my mind when I completed Week 12’s Costume illustration. I was thrilled to see it included in Nicky’s picks here:52 Week Illustration Challenge
As the last week of March it has been busy due to the closing dates for the following competitions:
SCBWI Work In Progress Grant
Rate Your Story Writing Contest
Caterpillar Poetry Prize
I can relax for a few days before I prepare manuscriipts for the next competitions:
Although I am self-published with my little book ‘The Jersey 12 Days Of Christmas,’ I still aspire to be what is known as ‘traditionally published’ through a well known publishing house. Here is a defintion by Gene Mirabelli at Critical Pages:
“The names of The Big Six may be familiar to you as distinguished old publishing houses. They are Simon and Schuster, HarperCollins, Random House, Macmillan, The Penguin Group, and Hachette. Only two of The Big Six are US companies: Simon and Schuster, and HarperCollins. The others are foreign: two are German, one is British and the other is French.”
Until I get a manuscript accepted by a big publisher I have to motivate myself to keep going. There are no deadlines to work to by eager editors or animated agents. I have to keep going by myself through days of wordy drought and barren ideas.
To keep me going I enter writing competitions for the following reasons:
I am a big believer that you ‘have to be in it, to win it!’
some competitions give comprehensive and incredibly useful feedback sheets
competitions are good practice for following submission guidelines, eg: target age range, genre, word count, font size/type, etc.
and finally competitions give you a deadline to work to.
Above is a certificate I recently received for the KBR Unpublished Picture Book Manuscript Award 2013. I didn’t win but I did receive something just as important – a reason to carry on with writing – a sign that I am on the right track! I had earned a certificate of Highly Commended! The feedback was that my story had humour, a lovely character and scope for wonderful images.
The feedback also had some hints at how I can make it even stronger and this has given me some direction.
Here are some of the writing competitions that I have entered throughout the year:
A while back I discovered this blog called Rate Your Story and have recently submitted two different manuscripts to their services. It is a brilliant free way of getting someone from their panel of judges to read your picture book manuscript and give a rating from 1 – 10 (1 = the best mark) and a bonus extra little bit of feedback. Most of all it gives you some kind of indication of wether or not you are on the right track.
Many of my fellow participants of Julie Hedlunds writing challenge 12 Picture books in 12 months in 2012 have also submitted their work and it is great to see all their feedback and delight at how their work is developing.
I know I must be improving because I have sent two manuscripts so far. Last weeks story about a zoo, had a rating of 7, so it either needs a lot more work on it or maybe needs to be put at the bottom of the pile for now, so I can focus on others that read better.
The second manuscript about a tooth fairy had a rating of 5. An improvement, even if it is a small one! Do I feel a sudden need to give in and decide that maybe this isn’t for me? Not a chance, I feel more determined than ever to see those ratings get closer to number 1!
The closing date for the latest lot of submissions is 7th Febraury 2012, so you have got to be quick to get in by tomorrow if you are interested.
Of course this is not the only thing I do to give me an indication of the standard of my work. I also send my manuscripts to professional editors and assessors, my critique group, publishing houses and writing competitions. I have written about this before in my post about the importance of Participating. Having some kind of deadline is good for you, it stops you procrastinating and wasting valuable writing time!
Anyway Good luck with your work, wherever you submit it!