Don’t bother to enter those contests. No one ever wins. Because I did and I have the book to prove it!
The contest was sponsored by Writer’s Digest and Abbott Press and was called #Pitch2Win Writing and Publishing Contest. I discovered it on Twitter, and it sounded simple enough - in a single tweet of 140 characters or less, pitch your novel.
I had just completed a novel called Mama’s Shoes, and had waded into the frustrating world of agents and publishers. And now, on the computer in front of me, was a contest that promised the winner a publishing contract with Abbott Press. I read the rules and decided I wanted to enter. There was only one problem, the contest ended at midnight, on Sunday, March 27, 2011 and it was just after 11:00 PM on March 26! I had less than an hour to come up with my pitch and the clock was ticking.
I remember staring at the computer screen in front of me. How could I describe my novel in 140 characters?
For the next half hour, I typed and erased; typed and erased. Just before midnight, I filled the space with a line from my novel, “Mama always said you can tell a real lady by the shoes she wears, but then nobody ever accused Mama of being a lady.” I clicked send.
I knew I had found the perfect tweet to describe Mama’s Shoes. After all, it was that line that was runner-up in another contest, this one in Writer’s Digest Magazine. If you keep every issue of Writer’s Digest like I do, pull out the October 2003 issue. On page 14, you will find the winners of Your Opening Line #8 Contest.The object of the contest was simple; based on a tiny black and white picture of flip flops on a beach; write the opening line for a novel. It took me eight years, but that’s exactly what I did. That line, Mama always said you can tell a real lady by the shoes she wears, but then nobody ever accused Mama of being a ladybecame the foundation for Mama’s Shoes. And even though it’s not the opening line, it is in the first chapter. Page nine.