by Jennifer Slattery
Writing is definitely not for the thin-skinned, nor for those seeking instant gratification. It is one of the few jobs where the applicant can spend years, decades even, doing all the right things with nothing to show for it. So much of the writing industry is beyond the writer's control, at times it may appear to be an endless upward climb with a perpetually elusive destination. And although it is true there will be much that forever remains beyond our control, there are concrete steps a writer can take to increase their chance of success.
The first thing a writer needs to do is develop a long-term focus. This is not a get-rich-quick scheme. In fact, quite the opposite. If you want to be successful as an author, expect years of sweat and tears and start by focusing on the foundation.
This is where contests come in. At the American Christian Fiction Writers conference last September, I reported on one of the late night agent panels, and something Kathy Helmers from Creative Trust, Inc. said really resonated. When discussing the importance of developing a platform she said it was easier for an unpublished author to land a contract than it was for a published author with low or diminishing sales. What this means is, before you sell that first novel, make sure you have a wide reader-base to support it.
That's where Clash of the Titles comes in. Each week, we draw readers from over nine different countries, including the Ukraine, Peru, India and Germany. Competing authors point readers to our site and search-engine friendly key-words draw even more. This ensures a great deal of exposure for all participants, which in turn, offers the potential for an increased reader-base.
We also offer authors valuable reader feedback. All contests provide great feedback, but Clash of the Titles is unique in that we provide unbiased, authentic reader feedback. Let's face it, you can do everything right technically and still pen a dud. If your characters don't grab the reader and your plot falls flat, so will your book. And although editors, agents, and traditional contest judges have learned to "read the market" so to speak, they'll never be able to dive in the reader's head. But we can, in a way. By inviting readers to choose their favorite excerpt and leave comments in our survey, we get a glimpse into their psyche. We learn what they like and what they don't.
So why would an unpubb'ed author subject themselves to a contest on Clash - one where their work will be read by thousands and perhaps even dissected line by line? Because we offer great exposure, the potential for an increased reader-base, and honest feedback.
Yep, it's a win-win. (And remember, we're not just for the unpubb'ed. In fact, most of our competitors are published, but every once in awhile, we open our clash to the unpubb'ed, giving our audience a chance to get to know emerging authors before they make it big.)
So, hop on over to our submissions page (http://www.clashofthetitles.com/p/test-page-1.html) to find out how you can throw your excerpt into the ring. Remember, every tweet, fb share and comment enters you in our drawing to win a free book and builds up an author who very well may be in need of encouragement.
Jennifer Slattery is a novelist, columnist and freelance writer living in the midwest with her husband of fifteen years and their thirteen year old daughter. She writes for Christ to the World, the Christian Pulse, Samie Sisters, and Reflections in Hindsight, reviews for Novel Reviews and is the marketing manager for Clash of the Titles. Find out more about her and her writing at http://jenniferslatterylivesoutloud.com/.
Remember that next week is the culmination of our month-long clash! Readers, feel free to come cast your ballots when our 3 finalists will be up for vote.