Thursday, February 12, 2009

How to Win the Paperback in Your Hand Contest 2

Welcome everyone! Today is the second day of this Event. It's very informal, as you will note. Each day I'll be putting up a tip or trick to help writers make the most of contest writing... not only the Paperback in Your Hand Contest, but other competitions, too. Please be sure to read the comments for Part 1, as the writers had some useful tips of their own. If you plan to enter this contest, you'll find all the details at .

My second tip is simple.

Submit a manuscript of the right length.

The rules call for a manuscript of 25,000 words or under. This can be short stories, a novella, a short story or a chapter book, poems, a biography, a cook book... well, just about anything! Technically, a story with five words in it or a haiku poem would fall within the rules, but remember, this is a Paperback in Your Hand contest. How many paperbacks have you seen with one or two pages? A book of ten poems would probably have fewer words than a chapter book, but it would cover several pages because poetry is traditionally displayed in short lines with plenty of white space. A recipe book would likewise take up more pages than the word count would suggest. A chapter book would cover more pages than a short story of the same word count. A children's picture book would take up the traditional 32 pages... but since this particular contest cannot provide for coloured illustrations, any pictures would be black and white, and, additionally, will need to be provided by the author.

All these matters need to be taken into account by entrants in this contest. When planning your entry, visualise it as a paperback. How will it look? Will it be impossibly slim? Will it need saddlestitching, or will it be perfect bound? If you can't "see" a proper book, then maybe you should reconsider your entry.

Comments? Questions? Come back tomorrow for another tip.

1 comment:

Sally_Odgers said...

From Astrid Cooper... who couldn't log in, so sent her comment via e-mail.

HI Sally

This is a wonderful idea and forum to share advice and experience. My 2c worth. I read and assess manuscripts as an editor for several agencies, plus I sometimes read or judge competition entries for national comps. and other groups (just recently for a University's Professional Writing Course Competition). I see the whole range -- from the absolute professional whose MS is "flawless" to the new writer who doesn't even indent for new paragraphs or knows how to set out dialogue and tags. The advice I have is to learn how to submit a manuscript professionally, obeying the rules of the competition or the submission guidelines of the publisher. If you "think' you know how, make sure you DO know how. If writers don't, I can guarantee their work just won't be taken seriously, and probably not read by competition readers (disqualified) or rejected immediately after a cursory look of first page by the very busy editor at the publishing house -- there are too many highly polished manuscripts and professionally published authors' submissions to consider already. Do not shoot yourself in the foot.
Hope this is useful.
Best wishes
Astrid Cooper.
starlight, starbright, I wonder where the cat is tonight?