After over a month of the First Chapters Romance contest, a lot of people are probably sick of hearing about it.Â A lot of people are sick of getting e-mails about it.Â Hey, I'm getting sick of the e-mails and my novel <i>Bear Country</i> is in the semi-finals.Â Before you write off the contest though, here are some things you might consider:
1) Many (though not all) of the contestants are going out and reading and commenting on your stuff as well as asking you to read theirs.Â For example, the current top vote getter Judi Fennell, has 89 pages of comments.Â When she asks you to read In Over Her Head she isn't just sitting back and spamming.Â She's also out there reading and commenting a lot.Â She isn't alone, and doesn't even hold the record for the most pages of comments among the contestants.Â The current number five in terms of comments received is Jamie Chapman with her Wolf Huntress.Â She has 174 pages of comments.Â There are at least a couple of others with over a hundred pages worth of comments.Â My Bear Country is currently in 9th or 10th place in the contest.Â I have a comparatively anemic 51 pages of comments.Â We're asking you to read our stuff, but we are also giving back.Â A lot.
Â 2) If the Romance contest succeeds there will be other contests in other genres.Â If most Gatherites sit on their hands this time there is probably no guarantee that there will be a next time.Â Got a mystery or science fiction or mainstream novel you would like to see published?Â This is an avenue that will stay open only as long as the publisher is happy with the five finalists.Â If the popular vote process chooses people based on how many friends they can bring in, then the First Chapters process may not get to your genre.Â
The First Chapters contests may be a cattle show, but they are a major step up compared to the traditional process.Â Traditonally you spend thousands of hours of your life writing a novel.Â You send it in to a publisher or agent.Â It sits there for months until some intern opens the envelope, pulls the manuscript out enough to read the first paragraph, and then usually drops it back in with a rejection slip because he or she has hundred of manuscripts to go through.Â This is an opportunity for one or two hard-working people to by-pass that process.Â If you are a writer now or think you may be, you want to keep that channel open.
3) Romance has changed a lot in recent years, and a lot of the semi-finalists push the envelope.Â There are historical romances, fantasy romances, suspense/adventure romances, just to name a few.Â My entry, Bear Country, is a science fiction romance, where the fictional town of Rockport Illinois goes into an alternate dimension which one character describes as "Ice Age North America on steroids."Â You may not like all of the semi-finalists, but I'm pretty sure you'll find at least a couple you like.
Â In any case, the popular vote part of the contest will be over in about a week and a half.Â I hope you stop by and look at a chapter or two.Â If someone sends you a polite, personal e-mail asking you to look at a chapter, do understand that the person involved has worked hard for months or years to write the novel they are asking you to take a look at. Â In many cases, authors are giving back to the Gather community.Â That doesn't give us the right to spam you again and again with mass e-mails, but I hope you'll bear with us if we send you one or two personalized request to read