The other day Tess Hilmo posted on sticking your neck out. Having just experienced the happy side of taking a risk, I agree with her. Well, I'd agree with her either way, but this makes it easier.
Miss Snark's First Victim has a monthly Secret Agent Contest. Basically it's a first pages critique on her blog. She holds a drawing to choose the participants, and each of them sends the first 250 pages of their manuscript to be posted on the blog. Then the tomato throwing begins. Anyone is free to comment on the submissions.
The upside of this is that one of the commenters is the Secret Agent. And said agent chooses a winner, who then gets to send in her manuscript. Honorable mentions get to send partials.
I took a risk. I put my 250 words (actually, I think it was closer to 280) out into the blogosphere and waited to see what would happen. Sure, I ducked a few tomatoes. But I also won honorable mention, and a request for a partial.
It's scary putting your work out there for the world to see. But repeat this to yourself: "What's the worst that can happen?" And really, when was the last time you saw anyone pointing and laughing?