A Contest "Thank You" or NOT?

About six weeks ago, I finished judging a contest, sent all my comments and scores back to the coordinator, and then promptly forgot about it.

That's the way I work: Out of sight, out of mind.

And it doesn't take much to make my mind empty these days!

Last week, I was emailed a thank you note.

An aside on thank you notes: As a judge, I don't expect one, and I certainly don't want one just because you feel you have to write one. This has always been my opinion from the first time I judged a contest in 2001. In all the years that I entered contests, I think I only wrote one thank you note. Don't bother writing one unless the judge actually gave you some insight into your story.  

This particular story was a historical romance. It was good, but it could use some editing and tightening.

Heck--EVERY story could always use more editing and tightening!

This story now has an agent and it will be a Kensington digital release. Good for her!

And then I got a second thank you note.

It was another "I sold my story!", but this time the subtext was very, very different.

To paraphrase:
Though you hated my story, I sold it. So there!

I'd gotten a nanny-nanny-boo-boo backwards thank you note.

Okay, I get it. The author wanted to point out that I obviously don't know gold when I'm reading it.

Okay, fine. Glad the author felt better by sending this unnecessary, and questionable, thank you.

But to top it off, the author will be handing my comments to her new editor?

Are you kidding me?

Why would an editor want my comments?

Obviously the problems that I spotted in a synopsis and the first fifty pages didn't bother the editor when she offered a contract. Besides, an editor has to think in the terms of the publishing house line, not some random contest entry comments from a random judge.


The most frustrating part as a judge is when the entrant puts their blinders on and doesn't really 'see' the comments. In this instance, the author thought I gave her a low score because it was an erotic historical.

That wasn't the case at all.

I had a problem with this story due to the lack of characterization in both the hero and heroine. Neither character was very developed and I couldn't sympathize with either one, which made the story uninteresting to me.  

But that was just my opinion. Another judge might not see the same thing. That is all you get when you enter a contest--AN OPINION. Obviously, the offering editor didn't seem to have a problem with this particular story or felt she could work with the author to tweak it.

So what I'm saying in my typical roundabout way is to keep writing and submitting because you never know who will find your story in the slush pile.

All it takes is one yes, but sometimes you have to slog your way through a pile of no's to get there.

Later, Peeps!


Cynthia D'Alba said...

What contest entrants miss is that contest "judge" on isn't the same as what an agent or editor "judges" on.

My GH scores for TTS were blah, but I sold and the majority of GH finalists haven't, so there! HAHAHAHA

MAGolla said...

So true, Cyndi.

Many times the judge has to follow certain criteria and score accordingly.

Agents are looking for something that is salable so they can make money.

And editors are looking for stories that are similar to fit their 'line' or imprint.

Marilyn said...

I always hated the second type of "thank-you" note. I got so many over the years, though never any that said they'd sold. Mine were always of the "You didn't like my entry but it finaled in Contest XYZ, so what do you know?" variety.

And my most memorable judge note: "You thought it was such a big deal that I didn't use punctuation and my sentences were two pages long. Well, what do you think an editor is for?"

And that note ended with, "It is, too, cute that my hero's and heroine's names rhymed!"

Shoot me.

MAGolla said...


I've judged some contests where the coordinator told me she debated about sending me the thank you note, because it was so bad. :-)

Contest judging is a thankless job, and personally, I'd rather NOT be thanked than receive a nanny,nanny, boo-boo thank you.