Wednesday, December 3, 2008

What's up with contests?

The finalists for the Nola Stars Suzannah contest were announced yesterday, and alas, I didn't make the cut. It's one of the strangest contests I've ever entered because even though you have to indicate what genre your manuscript is, there are no categories. Everything is lumped together, which should have been my first clue that this wasn't the right contest for me. I think writers who write traditional romance have a better chance of scoring high in the Suzannah.

For this contest, six finalists are chosen out of 120 entries that are judged by RWA published authors, PROs, and librarians and/or bookstore owners. Those 6 finalists are the top scoring manuscripts regardless of genre, so if 6 historical novels, or 6 erotica novels, or 6 paranormal novels get the highest scores, they're the total contest finalists. This year, based on the genres of the finalling entries, it appears that romantic suspense was the overall favorite. There wasn't a single paranormal title in the bunch! I found that kind of odd, but oh well.

I got my scores back from the 3 judges who judged the synopsis and first 26 pages of Knight's Curse. Two of the judges were very thorough and detailed with their comments and I really appreciate their time and effort. One was a librarian, and the other an RWA PRO member. Out of a possible score of 230, one gave me 210 and the other gave me 220. Not bad. Both offered glowing praise. The 3rd judge was a published author and she hated my entry. Absolutely hated it. She gave me rock bottom scores in all areas, including manuscript format (WTF?), and the only 2 comments she had were that she found the first person point of view off-putting, and the story was too complicated. She gave me a total score of 91! LOL! Talk about a difference between night and day.

That clueless judge didn't affect my ranking because the determining factor comes from the two highest scores only, so the anti first-person judge didn't count. My concern is that maybe this judge shouldn't be judging contests if she lets her bias about point of view affect her judgement. That's just wrong.

I'm now $35 poorer and none the wiser for my experience. I won't be entering this contest next year. I've gathered that it's geared more toward traditional romance than stories that contain romantic elements. Meh. Live and learn.


Jen said...

And now you know why they ignore the lowest score. Sorry it wasn't a better experience for you.

Barbara Martin said...

Karen, your money was not wasted. You received high scores from two people who thought your work was good, actually better than good. 210 and 220 out of 230 is great! There will always be someone who doesn't like your writing.

Did you consider the published author felt threatened by your manuscript? I have had this happen to me by a best selling author. Just for this fact, I have put 'Knight's Curse' on my book list.

If you like, I would be willing to do a book review for you when it is available. Check my blog for the reviews I have done.

MaryF said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Contest-Gal said...

Congratulations to the finalist especially to those who win:)..I hope more contest soon:)