Miss America for Books

What's your opinion of first novel contests? I'm thinking specifically of big name ones, like the annual Delacorte PBFYR first YA novel contest. I've read that winning a thing like that "launches careers." Yet if you win, it seems you're locked into a pre-written, generalized contract, something (as far as I understand) you legally agree to by virtue of entering. True? And is this a good way to start a career?
If a writer who has won something like that approaches an agent, what if anything does/can/would that agent do? Would the agent still get 15%? Can the agent make any changes to the publishing contract? Any other tidbits you may have about these types of things?

well, for starters, no one can force you into a contract against your will. God know Miss Snark has tried to lassoo George Clooney but so far the Supreme Court keeps upholding that silly little no slavery amendment. Miss Snark soldiers on.

Truly, if you win, you can negotiate anything you want. Or just not sign it.
And if you approach an agent after winning one of those things, that's exactly when you'll see what a good agent can do for you.

And heck ya we're gonna nick ya for 15%.

See the post on whether you really need an agent, below, for more on that.


Anonymous said...

Dear Miss Snark,

You are glorious, just thought you should know that.

Also, I have a question regarding queries. Specifically, what kind of bio information would you like to see if the author hasn't published anything and there's no other information to share that's directly related to the story or the characters?

Is it okay to just say "Soand So lives in SomeCity." or "Soand So is a writer living in SomeCity."?

many thanks,
Soand So

Miss Snark said...

well..how about So and So knows George Clooney's home address?

Actually, if it's not germane you can leave it out. But you might not know what's germane.

Where you went to school, where you did your first prison stretch, where you were first abducted by aliens - all these could be of interest...but Miss Snark leaves that up to you.

Anonymous said...

I guess we're on our own then.
But whoinhell is going to give out detailed bio information to some company, no matter how well researched, that is likely to be read by some office assistant?
And it is difficult to see how "My daughter's in the SCA" is going to hook an agent, even if a submission has some cool medieval stuff in it.
Seems to me those possible marketing gems should be revealed after the agent has found the ms. readable.It is the book, isn't it?

Miss Snark said...

Publishing houses have office assistants who read manuscripts. ICM, CAA and maybe some of the big conglomerates/law offices who do big name clients mostly have them too

But here on the Snarkling Plains of reality, agents read their own queries and incoming mail.
An intern may fetch it, open it and sort it, but agents read.

Our livliehood depends on it. Some brash young Snarksuited Apprentice isn't going to have the eye for elegant prose that Miss Snark does. Im not going to miss out on your submission by being lazy.

And marketing details are important. They don't trump good writing, but it's good to know up front.

Anonymous said...

Why all this banter about George Clooney? you know, peppering him in and out of your posts?

you have a "thing" for him or what? what's that artist guy you live with gonna think of all this Looney-Clooney talk? You can't fool me Snark, I know what its about--and so do you. Enough said.

George said...

Watch who you're calling Looney there bucko. The Snarkly One is MINE.