Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Miss Snark's Victim, and other Matters

Got shredded by Miss
Snark, once
I'm the lucky recipient of a very nice Liebster blog award courtesy of the redoubtable Elizabeth Varden, and I thank the lady very kindly. My mission is to pass this award on to five more blogs, and two of the passes are going to bloggers who are hosting aspects of Miss Snark's First Victim Baker's Dozen Auction. 

So I want to say a word about this exciting annual event, running currently (if you've missed it, MSFV also runs multiple "secret agent" contests during the year, so don't despair). I'm not entering myself, because I already have my ms. queried out to my favorite agents. But I did go through a round of logline critiques during the process to sharpen my logline writing skills.

So what is MSFV's Baker's Dozen?

In a nutshell, a crazyfest of logline critiques leading up to a logline + 250 word submission to be judged and bid on by a dozen of the most illustrious literary agents in the business. Even if you don't submit an entry, it's a crash course in writing a zingy concept sentence. Reading other people's loglines is just as illuminating. You see what people are working on, and judge for yourself which entries rise to the top of the scrum.

Later on, you find out if your assessments are shared by agents. You get a good look at your competition (if you're an unpublished writer) and what genres are hot (or maybe a trifle crowded). If there's a better worm's-eye view of the industry, I don't know where to find it, except maybe at a packed pitch session at some national conference.

Is it a good idea to enter?
A well-respected literary mentor I know says, "no." Her opinion is that agents get to know writers cycling through these contests, and that the entries start to look stale. In her words, "You should guard your ms. like your virginity. Don't put it out in the blogosphere for people to paw over."

I don't have an opinion, but I wonder, dear readers, do you? Online agented contests, and forums for critiquing pages and queries, yay or nay? Have you entered any? What did you think?

And now, I hereby pass the Liebster blog award to:

K.T. Crowley, smart critic and hostess of MSFV loglines.
Escape Artist Linda McLaren, just as smart and another gracious hostess.
A certain Wanton Redhead that I'm rooting for, on her way to Big Sur.
The vociferous Tricia Clasen, doing so much to help insecure writers.
And Bluestocking, for being unfailingly interesting and mysterious.

Here are your rules, peeps. Go forth and multiply.

The Rules: You must mention and link to the person who awarded you the Liebster, and mention 5 other blogs with fewer than 200 followers you think worthy of the Liebster.


  1. I struggled with whether to do contests or not, especially ones that ask for something like your first 250 words. However, I ultimately decided it could give me exposure to agents I can't query either because they're closed to queries or I queried someone else at the agency before I figured out there might be issues with my query letter. I did one last month, and the feedback I got, particularly from the agent, was extremely helpful. So, while I can see the drawbacks, it's been a positive experience.

  2. Thanks for the award, Gail. I really appreciate it.

    I've done MSFV in the past but won't be doing the Baker's dozen either. I'll be querying for reals in a few weeks. I

    think you can get some good value out of it, especially if you are looking for instant feedback. But not all feedback is the same, and you don't always have sense of who is behind the critiques at MSFV.

    Plus there's so much chance involve: Chance your entry is picked, chance the agent is looking for your genre (not always clear in the announcements), chance the agent picks yours. It's a literary lottery. I'm glad it's an option, even if I never play.

  3. I'm on the fence too. I would almost feel bad getting a contract on a contest alone. I want agents to like me for my writing and not just becasue I won a silly contest!

  4. I was going to comment but then I got totally distracted by the fact that Jen above me has a lovely new photograph :-)

  5. Michelle, that's a really good point. I noticed some of the agents in this year's auction are closed to queries. So unless you happen to run into them at a conference, your dream agent may be beyond reach.
    @bluestocking: good luck with those queries!

  6. Thank you so much! And I have not done the MSFV, but I've enjoyed other contests and found I got valuable feedback from them. I do, however, see your mentor's point, and it's given me some food for thought.

  7. I am honored with this silly contest and maybe just a little teary. I love competition, it's what makes us better and perhaps creates major strains of dysentery, but the judge is still out on that.

    May I say I'm humbled and I will do my best as soon as I truly understand the rules.

    Thank you for being you!

  8. Well, I've worked this over a thousand times in my head and I've decided not to enter. The problem is, I'm still editing and may very well change the a crucial part in it AGAIN. My logline won't make sense if I change that one thing, so it's just too early for me. I truly appreciate it though and am definitely intrigued in entering a future one.