Writing Dreams Do Come True By Susan Cox
Susan Cox, author of the debut mystery The Man on the Washing Machine, fills us in on her unique path to publication.
Do you dream of winning the lottery? Or the raffle? Or the writing contest? We know there are winners of those things, right? We just wish it could be us! Maybe, like me, you happily spend your theoretical millions or imagine what it will be like to read your name on the New York Times best sellers list.
I haven’t won millions, and the bestseller list is still just a dream, but I did win a writing contest last year; it was a really big deal and this month my first mystery novel will be on store bookshelves (and is already available online. Just sayin’.)
The road to publication is often rough, unpaved and full of potholes. But for a lucky few there are occasional, smoothly paved shortcuts. Probably the best for those of us in the mystery field is the annual First Crime Novel contest co-sponsored by the Mystery Writers of America (MWA) and Minotaur Books (the mystery imprint of St. Martin’s Press).
Hundreds of unpublished crime novels of every mystery sub-genre are submitted. MWA judges read, evaluate, and choose the finalists, which are sent on to the editorial staff at Minotaur Books for the final decision.
And yes, I won it last year. (Yay me!)
It was validation of a particular kind because I had given up a demanding career to write full time, and after a few months I entered the contest as a way of keeping my spirits up and giving me something author-ish to do.
The win came with a St. Martin’s Minotaur publishing contract and a trip to New York to attend the MWA Edgar Awards. The announcement was made at the Edgars Dinner, which is the mystery world’s equivalent of the Oscars, if slightly less glamorous and with fewer Klieg lights and red carpet reporters. I stepped on stage to generous applause from the hundreds of mystery writers, publishers, agents, editors and other guests present, and took possession of the award, which now has a prime spot on my living room bookshelves. (It’s a very pretty—nay, gorgeous—chunk of acrylic, all inscribed and everything.)
Agents returned my calls and I chose one to help guide my future career. Publication of my first novel is a dream come true, but it’s just the beginning of what I hope will be a very long, very productive life as an author.
The important take-away here is that I had absolutely no expectation of winning.
So go ahead. Enter a writing contest. Someone will win; it should be you.
Susan Cox is a former journalist and professional fundraiser. Her mystery novel, The Man on the Washing Machine, is available from Minotaur Books. Learn more and order your copy here.
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