I got to participate as a judge for the first time in an online contest, and it was an epic one. As the sun sets on GUTGAA (Gearing Up To Get An Agent) here in its final week of competition, I've been reflecting on what I've learned through it all:
1. I never ever EVER want to be an agent. Like, never.
2. There are a lot of great writers out there.
3. Queries are hard.
4. Deana Barnhart is one super-amazing kick*ss chica.
5. The writing community (for the most part) is extremely positive and supportive to other writers.
So, honestly, I already knew all these things. This experience just reaffirmed them. But here are two things that surprised me:
6. No matter how amazing a writer you are, you HAVE to have an original/intriguing concept to get an agent's attention. It shocked me how many entries felt like the same idea over and over again. Show the agent what makes YOUR story stand out, what makes it special.
7. I realized I'm a total chicken. Remember when I asked you all to guess my super secret undercover judge name from the list. Yeah, I decided not to reveal who I was after all. I tried to say something nice on every entry in addition to constructive criticism, but in the end (after some insight from other judges and a couple of twitter trolls) I decided to remain anonymous for fear of backlash. If any of you REALLY want to know who I was, I can email you, but I'm not going public with it. Neurotic? Maybe. But hey, I'm a writer. I'm supposed to get emotional and blow things out of proportion, right? :)
What about you? Did you participate in GUTGAA? How was your experience? How do you feel about online writing contests?