Friday, July 18, 2008

Guest Blogger Jade Lee


I am of two minds on this blog. I was asked for my opinions about the published author contest circuit for romance authors. On the one hand, contests are a business choice. They cost money and time, and can be ego crushing, but also can have excellent results. Therefore, SERIOUS BUSINESS. On the other hand, they're just one tiny, infinitesimal, rather bizarre piece of the larger career plan. Ergo, SELF-FLAGELLATION could be more fun. I blog serious or reality-check? Being more schizophrenic than usual, I have decided to do both--side by side.

SB: Contests cost money and time. The contest itself costs, the books that you send cost, the postage to send them costs, and God-forbid you have TWO books out in a year. Double the price for everything. Then add the time you spend getting all that stuff together, writing checks, going to the post office, generally tracking the business of the contest. Would you have been more productive writing your next WIP? Making your heroine sparkle and your hero gorgeous? Time is money, and contests eat both.

SF: Puuulllleese! The whole point of entering a contest is so that I am busy working and NOT writing! If I didn't have to enter contests, I would have to be writing. Like I really want to do that! And my hero is already gorgeous enough! I mean, come on, he is the vampire god of the SexCapades. What more could you want? If you want to talk costs, then mention the week long depression you fall into when that stupid b**** wins. The one who stole your vampire sex god idea, then slept with the publicity department of every known media outlet to get the win
AND the sales when I didn't even final, thank you very much!

SB: Publicity. That's the short and the long of it. At a minimum, you're paying three judges to read your book. That's three more people who may be awed by your brilliance. And if you final or win, that's more publicity. That's why contests that give winners ads and bookstore posters are better than cash awards or simple website announcements. Plus, you get the added benefit of attaching "award winner!" to your name.

SF: Money is ALWAYS better than publicity for a no-name contest that no reader really cares about. Readers don't really even know what a Rita is, and she's the best publicized contest in our industry. Show me who I need to sleep with at the New York Times Book Review, then we'll talk publicity. Although, strutting my knew sparkly red pumps at the awards banquet does make up for a wealth of humiliation in other areas of my life.

SB: Can you accept that a win/final/loss in any of these contests does not necessarily reflect your writing ability? Can you believe that it means little regarding your creativity or marketability in the larger scheme? If so, then I recommend the following contests: RITA because NY tends to pay close attention to this one. And as previously stated, it's the best publicized.

Next comes the Readers Choice which gets huge play in RomanticTimes Book Review magazine. Other strong smaller
contests: Holt, Maggies, Book Sellers Best, Book Buyers Best, and the sub-genre contests. The ones I am familiar with are Daphne De Maurie (mystery/suspense), Prisms (sf/f), Passionate Plume (erotica). There are also sub-genre contests for epublishing, inspirational, and literary. That last one (literary) can be a huge boon if you can get your genre book in as a finalist. A new group of readers may pick up your book simply because of your finalist status. Unfortunately...that's a pretty big "if".

SF: Um...hello, these are contests to JUDGE the quality of a book. Ergo, my self-esteem is absolutely tied to the results. If I win, I'm going to lord it over everyone in my sparkly red shoes. If I lose, I'm going to fall into the writer PIT O' DISPAIR and never come out until someone offers me an award for something. Hint: Most gorgeous PJs when living in the PIT O' DISPAIR only works once. Then you're going to have to go for jewelry and chocolate.


Jade Lee (both the SB and SF sides) is an award winning author and a Rita finalist for TEMPTED TIGRESS. Since she has lost her sparkly red shoes somewhere in the PIT O' DISPAIR, please help her out by sending her cyber jewelry, chocolates, or an award for something. Comment here or email her at: She can also be found at


Jade Lee


These Boots were Made for Stomping! April 08
Dragonborn, March 2008
The Tao of Sex, Blaze Jan 2008


Anitra Lynn McLeod said...

Thanks so much for blogging with us today about the nature of contests for published authors. As of yet, I only know about unpublished author contests but once Virgin Harvest comes out I'm going to be trying my hand at this. I think picking contests that give you some type of promo would be a good idea--I do notice those ads in RWR but I'm wondering where else they advertise--website, RT?

If you had to pick one contest that you think really helped you which one would it be?

Mai Christy Thao said...

Hi Jade! Welcome to Title Magic. I LOVE your books and have always wanted to meet you. I'm more in agreement with your serious business side, although I still believe that contests are a crap shoot. Thanks for blogging with us today!

Terry Odell said...

Thanks for the post, which confirms the reason I entered contests. My books are first published electronically, but according to some magic formula known only to the publisher, they also appear in print. Since there's not a lot of distribution for my books, I chose to enter some contests. As you said, it gets three of my books into the hands of people who would probably otherwise never know they existed.

I didn't have the confidence to enter the Rita, but I did enter one of my books in a smaller, more local contest and I was a finalist. Surprise! And I looked at the other finalists, and they were Big Names.

I entered a few more contests. Came in second in the Lories to another Big Name, and am still hanging in for the Daphne du Maurier, although again--the other finalists are Big Names. But I don't mind, because for my small press book to hang with the Big Names is cool for me.

Whether it does diddly for sales remains to be seen. I'm happy knowing those judges read my books and liked them.

Helen Scott Taylor said...

Hi Jade, thanks for blogging with us today. I know plenty about the unpubbed contest circuit and nothing about the pubbed one--until I read your blog. I guess I'll enter some next year when my book comes out. I'm glad you mentioned a list of the better ones that offer more promo opportunies.

I've always thought contests are a crap shoot-win some lose some--but they have a use and it's always a good feeling to win. You're so right about the time it takes to enter and even more hassle for me in the UK.

Savanna Kougar said...

Hi Jade, your sense of humor is a scream and a huge day brightener!
Thanks for giving us the benefit of your experience. It really helps me make better decisions.
If I had the extra time/money I would consider entering some of the pubbed contests.
But, alas, I can't keep up with promo and writing my wips, as it is.
BTW, the cover is gorgeous! Who's your cover artist?

Terry, follow your heart, but don't be intimidated by the RITA's. After all, they're only authors like the rest of us. Yeah, brilliant and talented, and maybe best selling, but really, if you can handle the scores...who knows, you could gain a lot by the experience, and by the results.

Jade Lee said...

Hello all! Glad I could join you today. If you're looking for the top contest -- it's the RITAs. Even a finalist status there can do a huge amount. ESPECIALLY if you're in there with Nora and other big names. That's the whole point! Everyone knows Nora is good, but...who's that nobody in there with her? I better read her!

Regarding my cover--THANK YOU! I love it too! Judy Yost is the artists's name, I think. THere's a link on my website to a borders video she did on doing my cover and CL Wilsons plus a few others.

And finally...If you want to pick another contest beyond the Ritas...I would go for the one in RT. I think it's Oklahoma RWA's chapter contest. Reader's Best. They do a huge ad in RT. Bookseller's best also has only booksellers as judges so I count that a big win.

Oh yeah...about confidence...are you going to be crushed if you lose? Don't be. It's a crap shoot. So...if you can afford it...take the shot. It truly doesn't reflect on you if you lose. But you can get good promo value if you win!


Lexie O'Neill said...

Thank you so much for blogging with us, Jade. I love your books and your sense of humor! I only know about unpubbed author contests, and have found I learn a lot, and the more I do, the less crushed I get.

I wonder, if we can stray off topic, about your road to publication. Were there particular classes, books, or funny stories?
Thanks again,

Jade Lee said...

Oops...I meant the artist was Judy YORK. Sorry.

As for my off-topic road to publication. Here's the short answer...KEEP WRITING. This is a marathon not a sprint. I started out wanting to be a screenwriter, but loved romance. So I read romance, left LA, had babies, and switched into novels.

There just is no substitute for hard work...and that means writing every day. I wrote a ton of stuff long before I got published. But that was learning what I did best in terms of genre, specific story concepts, dialogue, etc. It took longer still until I figured out what I wanted to do as an artist. And now I feel like I'm starting all over again!

The point is...write. Every day. Eventually you'll figure it out.

I know that probably doesn't help, but that's really all I've got. Write. You have the talent. I know you do. Just put down the words on page.

Evonne Wareham said...

Hi Jade
Thanks for a fun post on a serious topic. Not a problem I have yet, but I'm working on it. Good luck with the RITA.

Savanna Kougar said...

Jade, great point. That, to me, is the key. Write, keep on writing, and write again.
A lot of writing is an organic creative process that builds upon itself like layers of paint on that masterpiece painting. It's not just crafting skills -- although, that is obviously important as well.

Trish Milburn said...

LOL, Jade. Funny post with good info at the same time. Oh, and I've been in the Pit O' Despair, as most writers have.

Jade Lee said...

I've been in the Pit O' Dispair so many times, I've put up curtains. They're zigzaggy red things to make sure I go absolutely insane when I'm there. My pretty blue ones are lost under my meditation mat which is hiding under the bed.

And yes, I do know that I make no sense this morning. That's why I'm going to get more coffee...

Savanna Kougar said...

Jade, at least, I know I'm not alone when I writhe in the pit o' despair...
And don't send in the clowns! Send in the chocolate!