Much like a new mother, I have sufficiently forgotten the pain of birthing the past few blog contests and am ready for another. So….. contest next week! Who can stop me? No one! (Remind me of my bravado next week when I’m nursing a drink and a shot of good old-fashioned remorse).
But since this is your blog and you have been kind enough to let me write here for a while, I’m wondering: what kind of a contest should it be? A hook contest? Another title contest? A worst contest? Book covers? Short fiction? Random lottery?
And, for that matter, short of an outright offer of representation (which I can’t do) or money (which I don’t have), what should the winner receive?
It’s going to be fun! I think!
I like the dialogue idea as well, and the terrible query letter idea. As far as the prize goes, I think a read of the first 10 pages or so of the winner’s manuscript would be an excellent prize. I say pages instead of chapters because 1 chapter to one writer is sometimes ten times as long as one chapter for another.
I really liked the design your own book cover idea or the one thinking up a title to some paragraphs you provide.
As for a prize, I’m not much up for guest blogging, but feedback back from you would be awesome, maybe on the first chapter?
You are insane. You know that, don’t you?
Make it something short and easy for you to read. Titles or pitches or something. We don’t want you to burn yourself out.
Query and/or pages critique would be a great prize.
Josephine Damian says
Dave, thanks so much for the heads up. We’re expected to workshop our WIP’s and hopefully I’ll get to run mine past him. No doubt any story advice he gives me will be golden.
Aimless: I figure it’s like the advice my mother gave me about umbrellas on a cloudy day – better to take it along just in case.
*note to self: wear men’s suit and minimizer bra so as not to look conspicuous following Donald into the bathroom*
Nathan: If you wanna keep the entries short and sweet and funny, how about a “title to my memoir” contest – do you remember the one you told us about months back where people came up with a name for George W. Bush’s memoir? I believe the winner was “WTF?” Ha!
Or we could come up with a title for your memoir!
“Loving Cormac McCarthy”
“There’s Gold in them thar Hills“
“How to Win Friends and Eliminate Rhetorical Questions”
“Watching The Wire With Eyes Wide Shut”
Well, you get the idea.
And yeah, I think the prize should be a critique of some kind – query, syn, first five pages of MS.
Nathan Bransford says
When in doubt: query.
I’m a sucker for enteraining, spontaeous posts, so I’d vote for you providing three normally unrelated, preferably outrageous, words and a challenge to come up with the most compelling query/ hook/ back cover blurb (whatever) that uses the words in a way integral to the plot.
Or a dialogue contest. ; )
Elevator pitch. Twenty-five words or less. No more than two sentences.
Prize: A critique of the full query letter. The author must, of course, submit themselves to public humiliation.
Now that’s something I could get really excited about. It could be hilarious, and reading everybody else’s entries would be a kick in the pants!
While the partial read as a prize is great – some (dare I say – many) have already submitted and been rejected.
We stick around because Nathans a great guy :o) But I suppose we could still come up with something.
Since newspapers report that we aren’t reading as much as we used to – a free book would be great!
Marva – love the idea of getting a query letter critiqued and elevator pitch.
I’m with Marva – good one!
Elyssa Papa says
Nathan, thanks for answering my question. I have another one–or maybe it’s two in one.
Okay, say you queried this agency (but the NY one) months ago with the first draft of the now revised manuscript. One agent had the full but rejected it.
What’s the policy on requerying? Do you requery the agent that originally rejected you? Or can you query someone else?
Sorry, I guess that was really three in one.
What about back blurbs of books? Or did someone suggest that, too?
Nathan Bransford says
I posted a few months ago on re-querying: https://nathanbransford.blogspot.com/2007/11/re-re-querying.html
Elyssa Papa says
Thanks again, Nathan. I really appreciate it.
Elyssa Papa says
And can I say how impressed how I am you knew what blog to direct me to? I’m lucky if I find my car keys in the morning.
OK, I take back my suggestions. The worst query letters would have been fun but surely painful, and the 1,000 word short stories would be too much work and take time away from real work — unless pulled from existing writing. My favorite new suggestion is Adrian’s idea of taking “three normally unrelated, preferably outrageous, words” and have contestants write an opening, a title, a closing, back cover, etc.; something with a set word or sentence limit. This is quite entertaining. Can’t wait to see the resulting contest.
That anyone would suggest a worst of anything disgusts me. Reading your blog should not be viewed as ‘let’s make fun of the unfortunate’. Rather, it should be viewed for the value your information means to those aspiring writers who’ve not yet been published.
Wow, this is tough. And, Nathan, I honestly must doubt your sanity…Do you have a death wish, man?
But…if a short fiction contest, then SERIOUSLY SHORT…like 100 words total.
Personally, I prefer your earnest contests to your comedic ones…people really seemed to bring out their best work in the first line and the opening. But…you’re the one who has to suffer through it all.
Dude…really…take a look through your archives…are you sure you want to put yourself through that again? LOL!
I like the idea of a short story with you providing the opening line. Everyone starts at the same point and takes it from there. A query critique or partial read would make a nice prize.
Merry Monteleone says
Nathan, you’re a brave brave man…
I’d love to be one of those women who ‘forget’ the pain of childbirth… so, after having three, I secretly think they’re all lying about it… okay, not so secretly now…
Anyhoo, I’m with Precie, whatever you do for a contest, it should be relatively short, after all, you have to wade through a lot of entries. I do like the idea of dialogue, it sounds like a fun exercise, but with a low word count…
Prize – I think the best would be a partial critique from you, even just the first chapter would be great!
I think you can go ahead with the red suit and push up bra – Nathan never said not to look nice, but I would approach it as an opportunity to learn more and participate. Bring your pitch and synopsis in case, but plan on making notes and querying him, with mention of meeting him of course, a few weeks after the conference, once he’s waded through the bombardment from all the other writers that attended with you…
Besides, I’ve read your pitch, you don’t need to chase agents into bathrooms, just present it as is because it’s really good.
Liz Wolfe says
A tag line. Erica Orloff blogged recently about writing the synopsis and mentioned starting with a tag line. Of course, I’m suggesting this because I actually came up with a tag line for my current wip.
Josephine Damian says
Merry, thanks for the words of encourangement! I read on an agent blog where it said to go prepared with some tanigible write-up to give the agent to take away from the conf. – a verbal pitch can go in one ear and out the other, and God knows, as Nathan stated, people do lie about having gotten a positive reaction from a verbal pitch.
Nathan, you have months – years – ago of you here blogging *Nathan cringes at the prospect* – you can have a fun contest now, and amore serious one later.
I’m surprised no one (where is Moonrat?) suggested a sonnet about Nathan? Or how about a limerick about the book biz in general?
“There once was a publisher from Nantucket…..” :-O
Church Lady says
You can borrow my purple suit since Nathan thinks red might be too loud. (but not my hat. Danette gave it to me)
For your contest, I thought it might be a great idea to tie it into support for author Patry Francis. Writers blogs will be uniting on Jan 29 to support the release of her book. Here are the details from Backspace:
Have a blog? Want to help a fellow author?
Patry Francis is a talented author and lovely person whose debut suspense novel THE LIAR’S DIARY came out last spring in hardcover from Dutton. The trade paper release is January 29th, but a few weeks ago, Patry was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer. She’s had several surgeries, and her prognosis is good, but given that Patry won’t have much energy for promoting, a number of bloggers are banding together to do it for her.
‘THE LIAR’S DIARY Blog Day’ is going to be held January 29th. Folks who wish to participate are asked to mention the book on their blog that day and link to Patry’s website (www.patryfrancis.com) and the book’s purchase page on Amazon. You can do a liars themed blog, review the book, sponsor a contest, or anything else you think might help Patry get some much-deserved notice. Bloggers are also asked to encourage their readers to buy one/buy one for a friend between January 29th and Feb 1.
Brilliance audio is putting together a special audio clip that bloggers can use, and Circle of Seven productions is making a “cover story” promo video, which will also be available to bloggers. And Susan Henderson, of LitPark, says if you like, you can come to her blog on the 29th and copy what she writes.
Just to give you a very small idea of what you’ll see on the 29th, here are the folks who have already stepped forward to help: Laura Benedict, who came up with the idea. Patry’s editor at Dutton, Julie Doughty. Her agent at the Jean Naggar Literary Agency, Alice Tasman. Her publicist, Laurie Connors. Eileen Hutton at Brilliance Audio. Jessica Brilliant Keener. The brilliant Susan Henderson. Tish Cohen. Dan Conaway from Writers House. Sheila Clover English, CEO of Circle of Seven Productions. Jeff Kleinman at Folio Literary Management. Neil Gaiman. Jennifer Weiner. Robin Slick from In Her Own Write. Ellen Meister. Bella Stander. M.J. Rose. Robin Grantham. Kamela Cody of ModernGirlStyle.com. Kathryn Esplin at Gather.com. Clair Lamb at her Answer Girl blog. Sarah Weinman at Confessions of An Idiosyncratic Mind. Hank Ryan from JungleRedWriters. Sisters In Crime. Raven Bower. CJ Lyons. Jordan Dane. Murderati. Jen Jordan at Crimespree. Richard Lewis. Gail Baker and The Debutante Ball. Eileen Cook. Kelli Stanley. David Thayer. Amy Nathan. Karin Gillespie. Melanie Lynn Hauser. Amy MacKinnon. Anthony S. Policastro. Carolyn Burns Bass. WOW! Women On Writing. And you, too, right?
Oh my. Childbirth. Looooong labour. Much screaming. Gave in. Got drugs. Much better.
I like the three weird words idea, maybe in a short piece. Or the elevator pitch. Short, but practical. Like my sentences today. Apparently.
Hmm, I think most ideas that come to mind for a contests have already been mentioned.
As for the prize, I think a critique of a query letter and pages by Nathan coupled with helpful comments from the blogreaders is a great prize for every prepublished writer (not my term, I wish it were).
Southern Writer says
Book trailers. That way, we’d all have to work as hard as you will in this contest. Except me. I’ve had one a long time.
As for a prize, I can buy my own books, but I can’t buy the eyes of a good agent. A critique of anything would be great.
Hook contests have been done. I really would like to see a first page contest. In the past couple of months two agents have requested the first three chapters of my book. So, now that I got them to bite, I’m terrified that my first few pages aren’t good enough. I think this is a much needed contest; you could even do a first paragraph contest if the first page is too much. Perhaps the winner would receive a partial request from you.
I think it’s funny to read your last two posts – first you are bummed about the stock market, the weather, and some other things I’m unfamiliar with, but they sound just terrible. Then, there you are offering up yourself to more pain and anguish by having another contest. How generous!
My vote, if it’s not too late, is for the three unrelated words turned into an opening. I like this because everyone starts at the same place.
Childbirth is painful, but you end up with an incredible gift. So, you forgetting the pain of contests is much more admirable. Somehow, I don’t think having our undying devotion isn’t the same.
It’s early and I’m trying to give up coffee, of course I meant “is” where I wrote “isn’t.” This is going to be a tough week.
How about a “You, sir, are truly a crazy and nice man” contest.
A few ideas:
1) Flash fiction — maybe 250 words or less?
2) Angry writer rejection letter response — the winner writes the funniest response to your form rejection.
3) First line contests are still good.
As for prizes, the best is still your offer to critique query letters or sample chapters.
Melody O says
Ooh, ooh! I also vote for the elevator pitch. They’re always so much fun to read. Writing them, OTOH, is more like…child birth: time-consuming, messy, and with a lot of swearing. Heh.
Nathan, you brave and/or crazy man, thanks for doing another contest. You’re probably going to need a painkiller for this. ::knocks you on head with hammer::
A horrible query letter. That’s way too easy. What kind of a challenge is that?
How about most descriptive paragraph?
I don’t like the idea of being a guest blogger. I have a hard enough time writing my own blog!
I still love hook contests, but you’d probably get 600 entries, a la Miss Snark, and then you’d never do another one. I wouldn’t mind a dialogue contest, where people could post 250 words of dialogue from their novel or work in progress. Really, I’m all about contests where people can learn something. While the “bad query letter” ideas or “worst title ever” contests might be amusing at first, don’t you already get all that all day long anyway? 😛
sex scenes at starbucks says
I forget the childbirth part of it, since I had caesarians, but the six months of throwing up prior to delivery are indelibly etched upon my memory. I’ll be a crooked hag with Alzheimers and I’ll still remember.
Yeah, the kids made up for it, but just barely.
Vinnie Sorce says
Well you had a first sentence contest how about a last paragraph contest?
The prize: A Nathan Bransford critique of three chapters.
“Well you had a first sentence contest how about a last paragraph contest?”
Wouldn’t that give away the ending of your novel? Who wants to do that?
Pitch 101 – Writers have 101 words to pitch their book to an agent.
– 101 word limit would making judging this contest easier
– good practice for making a concise pitch.
– Design a book cover (different)
– Flash fiction
– Last paragraph
Prize: guest blogger
I think having Nathan critique work is a very bad idea. If the army was holding a contest would you ask that they shoot you as a prize?
Lady Whimsy says
Prize: 3 Chapter eval of work-in-progress…that’s the currency of an agent at a top lit agency, folks. The only thing better is a contract for representation and then a sold the manuscript phone call.
Okay, these are my favorite ideas so far:
A flash fiction story
A drabble (100 words, but it has to be 100 exactly) story
DIALOGUE!!! (My most favorite, as if the all-caps didn’t give that away)
Angry writer response
Favorite prize ideas:
A critique of any sort
10 minute phone call
I vote for title or dialogue from the writer’s own work.
How fun! Thanks Nathan! You really are a brave man.
Can’t wait to see what you decide.
Real verses Fiction
Find a recent article in your local paper. Copy it exactly the way it appears and then write a 500 word fiction piece on how that story came to be, or what happened afterwards.