Did you enter a contest with an unfinished book?

Red Plume, my first novel, an award-winner, but never published. Had I waited to enter it until it was completed, I believe it would have been published.

There’s a discussion on the RMFW member’s loop about entering a contest if your book is not finished. 

I’ll share my personal experience.  Editors and agents who judge the final round in contests assume the book is finished.  If your entry should final in the contest, it will be placed on the desk of an editor or agent who will have a deadline and will definitely read it.  This is a great opportunity to soar above the slush pile and maybe even gain a contract or representation.  

By making it to the finals, you have already won because, even if the editor/agent selects Manuscript A as the winner in that category, he or she may have admired much about your manuscript.

If you have only 12 of 20 chapters written and the agent requests a full manuscript, what will you do?

I found myself in exactly that position years ago when an editor requested a full. I was honest and explained it wasn’t completed, and she asked me to send it when it was ready. Then she proceeded to call me frequently, wanting the manuscript.

I was so excited it was distracting to write, but write I did, and furiously. I completed it and sent it off.

It was rejected. At the time, I was crushed, but it was inevitable. The ink had barely dried, so to speak, and it read just as it was written…rushed.

This same publisher would not look at the manuscript after it was published. The door was closed.

The final round judges expect that the entries making it to the finals are completed manuscripts. If you have a beauty in the making, you could kill its chances by submitting it before it’s completed.

So – have you entered a contest with an unfinished book, and if so, what was your experience?

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