15 July 2009

13 Useful Things About Coordinating RWA Contests

For the past several years, I've volunteered to coordinate the romance novel contest for my local RWA chapter, the Music City Romance Writers. During my reign, we've taken the Melody of Love from a contest that had trouble filling the categories to an e-submission friendly tight ship that maxes out every year. Granted, the whole maxing out thing is probably due more to the e-subs than my clever coordinating, but since the contest is our chapter's only income besides dues, we're all glad that it's working out for us!

In my experience, coordinating my chapter contest is interesting, entertaining, rewarding and sometimes crazy-making. Here are 13 reasons you may want to volunteer to coordinate YOUR RWA Chapter contest, provided you're in an RWA Chapter.

1) If you coordinate the contest, you don't have to judge in the contest.

2) You get to be the bearer of good news when it comes time to contact the finalists.

3) You get to be the bearer of even better news when it comes time to contact the winners.

4) You feel very popular with the huge increase in your inbox of emails that aren't spam. That doesn't mean none of them mention male genitalia--this is a romance novel contest--but they're not spam.

5) You correspond with the final round judges, editors and agents, in a professional venue that has nothing to do with you being in their slush pile. At the bottom. For months.

6) If you're short on reading material, there's about 25,000 pages with your name on them, literally, since all the contest entries came addressed to you.

7) Leading the judge training workshop gives you experience in front of a crowd of your peers. This could, some day, translate into being a Keynote Speaker at the RWA National Conference. No, really!

8) When you skim the critiques your judges send back, it can give you great insight into how perfectly sane readers can view the same manuscript in diametrically opposite ways.

9) When you skim the critiques your judges send back, it can give you great insight into things you will never again say to your critique partners, OMG.

10) Sometimes the entrants send YOU little thank you notes when it's all said and done.

11) Corresponding with the entrants, sending out contest updates and announcements, and writing blog entrires about your experience gets your name out there, at least a teeny bit.

12) Coordinating a contest gives you a deeper appreciation for volunteerism in RWA and what it entails--especially when it comes time to find enough judges.

13) Coordinating your chapter's contest gives you an excuse not to volunteer for anything ELSE in your chapter, or to clean your house, because you're so busy with the contest. It is so hectic at times you might also require infusions of dark chocolate. I'm just saying.

Jody Wallace
Author and 2009 Melody of Love Coordinator
www.mcrw.com * www.jodywallace.com * www.meankitty.com
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