I vaguely know what I did last summer... Or, more accurately, what I learnt from entering competitions.
Criticism is tough to take. Rejection sucks. These are the basics of life as we know it. Add to this paradigm that your book is your baby and you’re throwing it out there into the arms of a faceless, nameless stranger who may or may not have just had the worst day of their life and be more than willing to take it out on your pride and joy, and you get all the thrills and fears of entering competitions.
But here’s another fact - without feedback you get nowhere. Zip. Nada. Nothing. If you’re writing is purely a hobby, no problem. Have fun. But if you want more than your friends and family to wax lyrical over your words then you need to pull up your big girl pants and face a larger audience.
Start with a couple of Beta readers whom you trust. Join a writer’s group and give swapping your work a go with someone of similar ilk. When you’ve polished up your piece to the point that you’re ready to go the next step then do so with your chin held high. But be warned... your reception may not always be warm. You don’t have to embrace everything judges say. You’re allowed to disagree, the baby is yours, and yours alone. Don’t furiously rush into any major changes without giving yourself time to think the feedback over. Step back, give it a day. Some judges can shine a heavenly light on the tweaking required to raise your tale to the next level. Others, not so much.
Judges are only human. They may have just been dumped, have a pounding headache and dog that refuses training and has just ruined another rug. Who knows... Maybe your story is just not their thing. You’re allowed to file those far, far away from anything of relevant importance.
Step back, give yourself a day off and think some happy thoughts. But DO NOT GIVE UP. Here’s a picture of a pretty man. Let’s call it a prop for the happy thought process.