Welcome Lynne Greeley. Thanks so much for joining me today. I understand that you have been Indiana Romance Writers of America (IRWA) Indiana Golden Opportunity (IGO) contest coordinator for the last 2 years, what does the position entail?
My biggest responsibility is managing the contest and all aspects of it. From taking a look at the score sheets we use to see if any changes or updates need to be made, to finding chapter members to judge entries (and get them trained), to finding editors in traditional and epub publishing houses to judge our final rounds and to promote our contest so we have lots of entries. Oh, and keep track of all entries and payments.
While these sounds like a lot, each of these things are done at various times of the year so it’s really not as overwhelming as it sounds. I also have great category coordinators that do a LOT of the work with contacting entrants and tracking scores.
What are three reasons why an author would submit a work in progress (WIP) to a contest?
I think the most important reason is to get feedback on a work in progress. For a writer that doesn’t have a strong critique group or beta readers, contests can be a great way to find out what is being done right and what needs work in their story. Contest can help writers see issues in plot, wording, and character development....feedback from a contest can help a writer turn an okay story into a GREAT story.
Education is another reason to enter a contest. It piggybacks on my comment above. There are a lot of aspiring authors that don’t know the "rules" of the business. And trust me, there are rules. But unless you join a writing group, buy books on writing, or take classes, you really can’t learn these rules. While it’s a hard way to learn, for some writers, it might be their only way.
Finally, for some writers, contests can offer the opportunity to get their work in front of an editor. Most contests have editors or agents participate in a final round of judging. This is a great opportunity for a writer to connect and maybe get their story published.
Bottom line, all writers will have different reasons to enter a contest. That’s why it’s so important to check out a contest before entering to make sure the feedback and editors/ agents judging are what are best for your story...and your career.
What are three reasons a writer should choose IGO?
IRWA’s IGO contest was created to help unpublished authors prepare for RWA’s Golden Heart contest. To provide feedback on their work in progress, so writers had time to make revisions and enter the Golden Heart. Four of the finalists from our 2013 IGO contest went on to final in the Golden Heart this year. One entrant even commented that IGO gave her the courage to enter the Golden Heart.
Last year our chapter revamped the IGO contest. We updated our score sheets so they were category specific and easy to understand and help entrants see what they needed to work on. We also updated our rules and decided to get two editor judges for each categories final round – one traditional and one epub. In 2013’s IGO contest, ten of our finalists had requests from our editor judges to see full manuscripts.
Finally, IGO is in its 24th year! Few contests have been around as long as IGO and that just goes to show the work our chapter puts into the contest each year. All first round judging is done by OUR chapter members. All are trained on our score sheets, track changes and how to judge and score entries. The feedback and opportunities that entrants can get with our IGO contest can help jumpstart a writer’s career.
Lynne, tell us a little about yourself. What have you published? What are the genres you write under?
I am a lucky person in that I met an author one day that told me about RWA. She said it would change my life if I had the chance to go to their national conference...and she was right. (Thanks Susan Mallery) In a two month span I joined RWA, joined IRWA and went to the national conference knowing NO ONE! I met up with IRWA chapter members, got to know them and found myself in a great group of women that help writers learn. It’s just as painful as entering a contest...maybe worse. But I wouldn’t be where I am today, if all of that hadn’t happened.
With a close group of friends, I’ve written a few short stories that are part of an anthology in the erotic category, but my heart is in contemporary romance where I’m working on some stories to see what might happen next in my writing career.
Who knows, there might even be a murder mystery in my future....
What is your number one piece of advice for a new writer Or someone submitting to a contest for the first time?
My biggest advice would be for a writer to understand that this is a tough business. A writer has to be thick skinned and be able to handle criticism. It sucks when you get a score sheet back that has tons of comments, or an entry with lots of track changes. It’s painful. Writers work on their stories for months, maybe even years. It’s their baby. But, the writers that can take a deep breath, read the comments with an open mind and then take that information to make their story better...those are the writers that will have great success.
Oh...and always remember. Writers these are your stories. Look over comments and suggestions and decide what is right for YOU. You don’t have to do everything that is said to you. Pick the advice that works for your story...because it is YOUR story.
Thanks Lynne. For anyone interested in learning more about IRWA’s IGO please visit their website at www.indianarwa.com.
As for myself, I’ve entered five contests this past year, and though saying this might sound bias, I prefer the IGO way of judging. I’ve received WIP’s back with yellow highlights, all caps, words crammed in parentheses, and these do not help. Do not teach. IGO uses track changes, which adds a column alongside your work that the judge uses to make suggestions. This is educational, because in order to learn, I believe explanations beside the actual content are needed. IGO judges go through your work line-by-line, commenting and deleting as necessary based on those "rules," Lynne indicated earlier. The score sheets also offer a glimpse into specific areas the writer needs improvement and at the end there is a place for judges comments, which always proves enlightening.
If you’re a writer just starting out, BEGIN YOUR JOURNEY with this contest.