writing contests

Wait for Agent or Enter Contest?


Dear Editor…

For several months I had planned to enter a YA novel contest with a small Indie publisher. The window to do this is from May 1 to June 30. Recently I was asked to submit a full of this same novel to a requesting agent that I thought was a no response. The contest is for unagented authors. How do I handle this if don’t hear from agent before the deadline?

Unagented But Hopeful

Dear Unagented But Hopeful…

Kudos on the request! I hope that’s your ticket, but it’s wise to weigh other options. Plan to enter the contest late in the entry window to give the agent time to read your manuscript; she may reply more quickly now that it’s on her “Strong Interest” radar. I’d also email her to say you’re considering the contest but will withdraw your entry should the agent be interested in pursuing representation. Wording it in the name of communication, such as “I sent you the full ms as you requested. I wanted to add that I’m planning…,” will avoid it coming off as threatening. Winning the contest would make representation of that project moot, so most agents would appreciate the additional context. Really, you have till winner announcement date to withdraw, if the rules don’t say just entering commits winners to publication. That’s unlikely, though not unheard of, either. You’ve got two months till the contest deadline, time enough to email the Indie for clarification. If entering is committing and you don’t hear from the agent despite your heads-up, let your career preferences guide your difficult choice.

Happy writing!
The Editor