Well, everyone has a different answer to this. Some say never, other pick a number of contests and decide to stop after that. In my case, it was just the decision that enough was enough. I participated in yet another writing contest, this time called #PitchSlam and yet again, my manuscript wasn’t picked. I’ve been putting my adult paranormal mystery manuscript through so many contests, that I don’t even remember all of them anymore – seems like a blur now. All I know is that since August 2014, I’ve put this manuscript through all the writing contests (including Twitter pitches) I could find. Some often Tweet that not being picked bad since, while they had been picked for some contests, they didn’t find their agent that way, but at some point, I guess I finally realized that I had to face the truth: my manuscript is never going to be picked in a contest. It never has been picked once, and even though a lot of people have thrown ideas as to why that is: word count – which I fixed, and a difficult genre to sell – yet there are at least two other paranormal genres that were picked, so it’s not that either. I think that when you don’t get picked even once in almost a whole year worth of contests, in my opinion, it’s time to call it quits. To me, this isn’t giving up – it’s just that at some point, if participating in contests brings nothing but misery, is there really a point to continue? If it makes you feel like your writing sucks, or even, is just “not as great as all the others we’re raving about in our Tweets” and that you’re pushed aside to watch as manuscript after manuscript is being praised for being amazing while yours just gathers dust and makes you feel like crap – isn’t that a good time to stop these contests? In my opinion, it is, because there’s nothing worse than being rejected contest after contest, and making you feel worthless to the point of not wanting to write anymore. I know a lot of you are going to go “Whoa there – you’re in the wrong business then!” but I can take rejections, it’s just that, somehow, this doesn’t feel like querying and receiving rejections. I’m not sure how to explain it, but it might be because, when you send a query letter, and you get a rejection, that’s it – you don’t have to receive a bunch of emails afterwards with everybody the agent who just rejected you DID sign on. And again, don’t get me wrong: I’m always very happy to see so many writers get closer to their dreams, but at some point, like the point where I am now, your own failures just start to weigh down and crush your spirits to the point where you hate contests, even if you are truly happy for those who have been picked. I know that there are always going to be writers who aren’t picked – it’s the way of the world in almost everything, but like I said before, I think that when contests are no longer fun, then it’s time to call those quits and stick to querying only. Out of 188 submissions to #PitchSlam only 48 were picked, meaning that only about 25% of the submissions are picked, while the rest are left out. And yes, people can congratulate writers for putting their work out there – it’s true, it takes guts putting our work out there – but again, there are just so many contests you can participate in and get ZERO results without starting to feel like you can only hate contests, and that you’re writing is just not good enough. I know some say they had manuscripts they really wanted to get through to the final round, but there just wasn’t enough place, but then… what made that manuscript stay behind while others were chosen over it? Obviously, it was good, but not good enough to replace another of the amazing entries – so it was not amazing enough. Again, it feels crappy (well, of course is does, I doubt anyone would disagree) and when it reaches the point of making you feel like shit, I think that’s when you know it’s time to call it quits. People always recommend I write something else in the meantime, since my genre is a hard to sell – ironically enough, what I love to read and write is exactly that genre, so even if I work on something new, it’ll be the same problem. And yes, the market does change, but if it doesn’t, I’m going to be in the same constant rut all the time? This is when I started thinking of self-publishing instead, or even querying directly to publishers since getting an agent seems to be the hardest thing in this whole industry. Only time will tell. For now, I leave here feeling sick to my stomach with the idea that I spent so much time and money on a manuscript that isn’t as amazing as the other ones out there, even after all this time working on it, and while I know that if I love writing so much, then it’s never a waste of time, well consider this: if my motivations were a hundred percent love of writing only, then I wouldn’t have spent so much money and time on editing it for publishing – my motivations are about fifty-fifty: love of writing + dream of publishing. With half the motivation gone, it’s difficult to want to keep going. I know I will – I always do – but I think I may start looking at publishing in a new light.