Thursday, March 26, 2015

Not Winning A Contest Doesn't Mean Your Writing Sucks

Today is March 26th and for those writers involved with the Romance Writers of America, this is a big day. The nominations for the RITA and the GOLDEN HEART are being announced today. There were a lot of people who entered and only a few make it to the finals. Today there will be a few people who will be amazingly happy. But today, there will be a lot of people who will ask "What is the point? My writing sucks!"

Before you ask this and make this judgmental call, let me remind you of a few things.

When it comes to writing contests, winning or not winning is not necessarily a matter of the writing being good or bad, it all comes down to the judging, especially in the case of the RITA and the GOLDEN HEART. This is where you see the subjectivity of this business at its finest. For you see, your score is all a crap shoot. It all depends on who you got as a judge.

Remember in the Golden Heart judging, the majority of the preliminary judges are just like you. They are still trying to figure out the business. They are still trying to get to that first contract. They too are unpublished. You may have gotten the judges who read your story and really don't know the difference between SERIES and SINGLE TITLE.

Remember also that you judge in genres you did not enter. If you write and understand historicals, you may end up with nothing but New Adult. If you don't know this genre or like this genre, the odds are you are not going to be able to give it a strong score.

On the reverse side, there is nothing that says the person who won really did have the best story out there. That person could have gotten the "Everything is Wonderful" judge. Maximum scores all around!

When it comes to the RITA competition, we have to add in another layer. There is name recognition and covers that play with the judges thinking. Open up the box of books and you are lucky to find "your favorite author" and the odds are we know who wins this. Not that you are stacking the ballot box, but you are already coming in with preconceived ideas.

The same goes for the publisher the book came from. This year, it was a wide open field with the traditional and the self-published books. You have single titles going head to head with Series/Category romances. Again, subjectivity is going to come into play here.

The final thing to remember is that the judging is all based on one score only. On a scale of 1-10, did you like it. Sure, we could include decimals, but even then, "liking" a story is entirely subjective.

If you do get THE CALL today, I want to cheer you on all of the way. The simple fact you can make it through that gauntlet of judges is impressive. If you didn't get the call you wanted, don't let it ruin your day. At least you entered the contest and there are a lot of people who simply didn't have the guts to do so.

And one final note. For those of you who made it to the Golden Heart Finals, you have an open invitation to submit to Greyhaus! In your query to me, make sure to mention this year's awards. Pretty much say that from the start. I will be asking for more material from you!

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