Tuesday, November 6, 2007
Declaration of ... Dependence
We need each other to learn the skills to get a book published.
We’ve been talking about contests from the point of view of contestants. Today I want to talk about it from the judge’s angle.
First let me say, I’ve judged a lot of contests. And no doubt all those locks of hair I’ve been asked to donate as keepsakes are in fact being used on Voodoo dolls.
Between pin pricks, let me give you my take on judging writer’s contest.
Yes, judges can be unkind. Maybe they really loathe your work. Maybe they’ve had a fight with their husband and are thinking “Romance is for SAPS” while they’re reading your book. Maybe, despite the fact that they’re writers, they mean to give you solid encouragement and advice and instead they just sound like nit-picky nags.
No matter what the case, you need to remember that what you’re getting when you get judge’s comments is the same thing you’d get if someone picked your book up off the store shelves. A reader. Readers have baggage too, you know.
The price of the contest is worth it just to get your work in front of a reader.
In all the contests I’ve judged I can only remember once judging an entry of someone I know. And that’s our own Ruthy Logan Herne.
I judged the whole entry and gave out the scores, good scores may I say, before I read the synopsis. It was then that I got it.
CLICK! I’m judging Ruthy’s book. BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!
In her snop she referred to this being part of a series and the names clicked because I’d read the first book.
Well, I didn’t change her score…that would be WRONG.
However, I did go back and say things that were TEN TIMES MEANER!
Okay, that’s Ruthy’s version of it.
But from my angle, I knew that I had the work of a very experienced and skilled writer in my clutches. I knew she could take it. I even knew she’d welcome it. (Right? Back me up here, Ruthy…or at least back me up once you start speaking to me again)
That’s one of the things I do with entries. I can tell very quickly if I’m holding the work of an experienced writer or a new comer.
If I recognize experience, my comments get much more detailed, much more…possibly an author might say…meaner. But that’s because I know they’re close, knocking on the door to publication. They’ll understand my criticisms, they’ve heard it before and they’ve grown their rhino hide.
If I’m judging a beginner my comments are kinder, more rooted in encouragement. And I speak in broad terms.
--You didn’t set the scene here.
--I don’t know what she looks like yet.
--This is great dialogue on this page, it’s the strongest in the whole submission. I know you can do it because you did it here, so go bring the rest up to this level.
Kinder comments usually go with lower scores. So if you feel like you’re getting a tough…even mean…critique, but you scored really well, someone respects you and would like to help you kick down that stubborn door to the publishing world.
Has a harsh contest judge actually helped you? Have you gotten bad scores with comments so kind you're thinking the judge should have scored you higher?
Tell us about your experiences at the hands of the Mean Old Judge.
Just keep in mind that your comments live for all time in cyber space. :)