Dramaquill's All Things Writing

February 10, 2009

The Sequel – should I or shouldn’t I?

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I’m finished my adult suspense novel.  It’s been workshopped through my online critique group, read and critiqued by a couple writing friends and professionally critiqued by a published author from the same genre.

So now I’m crafting my query letter and getting ready for the first round of subbing.  I’m going to try agents first and see if I get any requests.  After that, I’ll target some publishers I’ve been collecting that seem suited to my book’s genre.

But something inside tells me the story isn’t over yet.  (In order not to spoil the ending of the first book, I can’t elaborate at this time.)

So I’ve begun a sequel.  Interestingly, it’s much easier to write than the first book.  I know the characters so well they feel like old friends.  The setting is comfortable and I can picture everything as if I’d lived there myself.

But I’ve read a lot of articles and posts that indicate publishers are not all that jazzed about sequels, especially from first-time authors.

So what to do, right?

Well, I’m going to run with this sequel idea and see where it takes me. 

What am I not going to do?

I’m definitely not going to mention it when I query agents and/or publishers regarding the first book. 

But I’m going to write it.  I feel the same adrenaline rush of brainstorming start to flow when I open up the sequel document as I did when I worked on the original book. 

I have no idea what will happen with the sequel.  Maybe half-way through I’ll run out of ideas and stop.  Maybe I’ll resolve things for myself by writing more for these characters and decide that I’m happy knowing the “rest of the story” but that it doesn’t qualify for a second book.


Maybe I’ll have a second book ready when that agent or editor asks.

Sequels have a lot to live up to.  Look at the movies.  How many times have you seen “name of movie” 2 and thought, “That wasn’t as good as the first one.”

But many kidlit writers have found sequels to be their claim to fame.  Look at the Twilight series – kids are devouring it right now.  JK Rowling didn’t have trouble selling six sequels to the original HP book.

All I know is that I will definitely have to be honest and ask myself one question when I finish this 2nd book:  Is it as good as the first one?

If I can truly answer “yes”, then maybe I just might have something.

How many of you have a sequel brewing?  What are you going to do about yours?

February 1, 2009

Contest entry fees: To pay or not to pay

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Sometimes, winning a writing contest can be an amazing way to get exposure, prize money, and if you’re lucky, a contract. 

But more and more contests are charging entry fees…and I don’t mean $5.00, either.  Recently I’ve seen novel contests that were charging as much as $50.00 to enter. 

Now think about it for a minute.  What if you enter four contests a year?  Each one costs $50.00.  Personally, I think the $200.00 in entry fees would be put to much better use buying paper, printer ink, stamps and envelopes for subbing to editors and agents. 

Whenever entering a contest, please do your research.  Paying an entry fee isn’t always a bad thing but there are factors to consider:

  • Is it a reputable contest – who’s running it
  • Does the entry fee match the prize
  • What is the entry fee used for
  • Who’s doing the judging
  • What are the terms if you win
  • How many prizes are there
  • Are prizes awarded based on number of entrants
  • Do you have to spend more money if you win

Let’s face it, a fifty dollar entry fee for an entire novel, where the prize is a publishing contract with an established, well-known publisher, would be $50.00 well spent.  However, that same fee, where the prize was a vanity press contract, would be, in my opinion, a waste of $50.00.  I wouldn’t even pay $5.00 if I was entering a poem on a site where the winners were chosen by online voting.  The fee has to reflect the prize.

So how do you find out which contests to enter? 

  • read everything you can about the contest
  • ask other authors if they have participated
  • ask your local librarian
  • read winners’ manuscripts from previous contests

To get you started, here’s a shortlist of contests.  Some charge fees – others don’t.  You decide.

Writer’s Digest’s contest fees are small in relation to the prizes.

Both for MG and YA first novels.  NO FEE.

For writers of fantasy and sci-fi.  NO FEE

Contest for playwrights – doesn’t appear to have a fee.

This site lists a ton of contests.  At the bottom of the site they tell you the types of contests they will not list, so they’ve done a bit of the research for you.


When it comes to writing contests, that really is the question.

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