Being a finalist is awesome. If you are so lucky to get there, savor every moment. I assume you’ve all read Jill’s blog series, so I’m not going to go into detail about the weekend. I’ll echo everything she said: Amazon, Penguin, and Createspace are amazing, generous hosts and you will meet great people and have a wonderful time. The winners will have been decided before you even get there, so just enjoy yourself and enjoy meeting and getting to know your fellow writers. The competition is already over.
Here’s my bit of advice about the ceremony itself: You will have to get up and say a few words, read a passage. I know the idea of this makes some people choke, but you will survive. No one is judging you. If you’re funny, be funny. If not, just be yourself. Thank the people you need to thank (including, of course, Amazon/Penguin/Createspace and your fellow contestants) and then choose a brief passage to read aloud. It can be from anywhere in the book, not necessarily part of your excerpt, but just make it brief.
Going into the awards ceremony, I already knew who was going to win, and that it wasn’t me, so I wasn’t especially nervous. I was first in line for breakfast and actually ate it. I won’t lie that though I knew, I still harbored a tiny bit of hope that I’d be wrong, again, and they’d call my name. But they didn’t. They called first Greg’s, then Jill’s, just as I’d predicted on the day the finalists were announced.
Pictures taken, goodbyes said, and you’re done. Congratulations, winners! Your Golden Ticket is punched.
For four others, you’re still holding yours. You go home with the title finalist and a great experience. Some accolades, some resume boosters, and a taste of the filling but no slice of the pie. So now what?
Now, it’s back to work.
Does it seem like I’ve said something similar in every post? Yep. Luck is awesome, but doing the work is what gets things done. The work you do depends on what you want. I’m chasing the traditional publishing dream, so the first order of business was an agent. More on that next time.
A last piece of advice I know no one wants to hear: Don’t hope and wait for someone at Penguin to call in the thirty days after the finals. They won’t. It’s all up to you.
Next up: State of the Union. Follow this story with the golden ticket tag.