Last month, I blogged about The Top 5 Things You Need to Know Before You Enter the Golden Heart Since then, I’ve been approached by several writers wanting to know if their manuscript had what it takes to final in the biggest RWA contest for unpublished authors.
I’m always uncomfortable encouraging people to enter contests because I have no way of knowing their financial situation. As a general rule, if you can afford to enter, you should. Being a finalist in the Golden Heart can jump start your career. But if it’s a hardship to enter, you probably want to evaluate your chances before you plunk down your hard-earned cash.
Since I can’t read every manuscript, I’ve started to look for outward signs that indicate you probably stand a good chance in the contest. Start with a polished, completed manuscript. If you’ve had any of the following experiences, then you stand a good chance of success:
- You’ve been a finalist in a chapter contest: A significant number of Golden Heart finalists enter chapter contests throughout the year to prepare for the big event. If you make it to the finals, you’re on the right track.
- You’ve had a request for a full from an editor or agent: If an editor or agent has read some of your pages and requested more, you have a good chance of getting to the final round.
- Your experienced critique partner thinks you should enter: I only finaled in the Golden Heart, because Lydia Dare encouraged me to enter a manuscript I had given up on.
- You’ve entered before: A significant number of Golden Heart winners are manuscripts which were entered in previous years and have been revised and resubmitted.Also, you increase your odds by entering more than one manuscript. I was surprised by the number of Golden Heart finalists who told me they entered several manuscripts, and the one that finaled was not the one they expected to do well.
- You believe in your manuscript: Every year there are talented finalists who have never entered a contest and never submitted to an editor or agent before. If you believe in your story and know what makes it special, you probably have a good chance in the Golden Heart.
So there you have it, my top 5 indicators you’re going to do well in the Golden Heart. It’s very unscientific and says nothing about how successful your writing career will be. Some of my favorite authors scored low in the Golden Heart and went on to have fantastic careers.
How do you recognize those authors who are going to do well in the Golden Heart? For those of you who are entering this year, what signs encouraged you to enter? For those who have finaled in the past, how did you know you were ready?
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