We all know what making the finals in the crème de la crème of romance contests means. Becoming a Golden Heart finalist means recognition and requests from professionals in the industry (agents and editors). Not to mention joining the prestigious ranks of previous finalists and earning the respect of your peers. It is the one romance award pre-pubs go Goo-Goo Ga-Ga over, and some lose sleep in anticipation of the announcement of the finalists.
I entered the GH in Nov 2010, and then put it out of my head. Constantly focusing on the outcome would only lead to stress, and in the event I didn’t make it also heartbreak. Well, I didn’t make the finals and I’m completely bummed. Having recently landed an agent does help, but I’ll be honest, previous contest wins no longer hold the same weight. At the end of the day, what does it mean?
For starters, the world is not over. If you didn’t make the finals, spend the weekend acknowledging your disappointment. Eat that pint of Ben and Jerry’s, have more wine than you should, drown your sorrows in a scented bubble bath, or get a massage like I plan to tomorrow. Then on Monday morning, let it go and take a reality check.
There are lots of successful authors who have entered contests and never won any of them. It does not mean your writing is sub-par. How many times have you heard of writers who entered the exact same manuscript two years in a row in the GH and only finaled once? Okay, you have the rare heavy-hitter out there, like Sharon Lynn Fisher who keeps making the finals and her talent clearly can’t be denied. BTW, Huge Congratulations to Sharon for making the finals yet again! For those who don’t know, Sharon has a phenomenal “Untouchable” agent, Robin Rue.
Getting back on track, if you didn’t receive the GH call, the same manuscript can still be published. In 2010, Erica Ridley’s Too Wicked To Kiss didn’t make the finals, but her agent sold it later that year to Kensington in a two book deal. It’s also a book club pick, www.2wicked2kiss.com.
When Anne Marsh entered the Golden Heart, she scored in the bottom 25%. Six months after not getting the GH call, she landed agent Roberta Brown and had a contract for a different book. Her manuscript, which didn’t make the GH cut, Bond With Me, was published in 2010, annemarsh.wordpress.com. Vicky Dreiling entered How To Marry A Duke in the GH twice and didn’t final either time. Her book was published by Grand Central this past January, www.vickydreiling.com.
To all those wondering why the novel you rushed to complete simply to enter the GH or poured your soul into didn’t earn the scores to become a finalist, I say take HEART. Your “baby” is not ugly. Publication is still possible and so is landing an agent. Last year, Wendy Marcus was exactly where you are today, disappointed she didn’t get the call. Less than a month later, she had an agent, wendymarcus.blogspot.com/2010/04/lots-of-good-things.html. You never know what wonderful news is just around the corner. So keep writing, querying, and yes, entering contests. And don’t forget to stay positive!
Congratulations to Aislinn MacNamara, Laurie A. Green, and all other GH finalists.