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Won a writing contest--include in query?

Posted: October 15th, 2010, 3:47 pm
by Yoshima
Thanks so much for hosting this Ask Nathan thread. With the massive amount of conflicting advice on the net, it's so helpful to have answers straight from you.

My question actually has to do with conflicting advice (and not wanting to dish out more of it myself). A writer friend of mine placed 23rd in the Annual Writer's Digest Writing Competition, but she isn't sure if or how she should include this in her query.

The dilemma: 23rd place doesn't sound all that flattering without the context (she said there was 10K or more entries in her category), but she's worried listing contest entry stats runs the risk of sounding braggy and/or wordy. She asked me for advice, and I'm finding conflicting info online. Most agent blogs say to not mention contests unless you actually won a notable one or received a well-known award. Others say "it can't hurt to mention it."

Do you think 23rd place in a contest like Writer's Digest is "notable"? Also, would agents prefer specifics (23rd place, or "placed in the top 25"), or would it be better for her to speak generally ("received an honorable mention")? Personally I think it's worth mentioning, but I really don't want to give bad advice for her query--they're hard enough as it is. Thanks again for all you do with the blog/forums. I--and thousands of others, I'm sure--really, really appreciate the effort you put in to helping writers learn the ins and outs of the publishing biz.

Re: Won a writing contest--include in query?

Posted: October 21st, 2010, 9:24 pm
by Nathan Bransford