This contest was FIXED I tell you!

I write romances. I write them because I like to write them and for no other reason. Every now and then I get a fire lit under me to try and get them published. This fire is usually sparked by my husband and children. I tried the regular route a few years ago and sent out a whole bunch of queries to editors and agents-- not even a nibble. No one even wanted to read a synopsis, much less whole manuscripts.

So the years passed. I joined RWA. Many chapters of RWA offer writing contests. One caught my eye. There was a cash prize, but this was so inconsequential I don’t even remember how much cash was being awarded. The real prize was that the winning mss were to be read by actual editors in real romance publishing houses. I eagerly sent in submissions (a synopsis and first three chapters) of two of my manuscripts.

The contest is blind. The organizers assign numbers to submissions and judges. The judges do not know the name of the contestant, the organizers do not know which contestant went to which judge until after all the numbered submissions go out.

Why do I think it was fixed? Because I didn’t win, of course! But it was the way I didn’t win that’s been bothering me. See, the submission goes to 3 different judges and is scored in different catagories on a scale of 1 to 5 in each catagory with a maximum score of 200. Then those scores are added up and the mss with the most points wins. (My two submissions were for two different publishing lines) My scores were:
The Danger: 190, 180 and 20
Runaway: 175, 160 and 30.
What the fuck? How in the french-dipped hell did a get a 1 in presentation? The presentation was done exactly to specifications.

Know what I think? I think that judge had a friend of hers in that contest and ever submission that she received that wasn’t her friend’s-- she sabotaged.

I can’t prove this, of course. I mean, it could just be that I’m disgruntled at having lost. Judging writing is subjective-- one person’s almost perfect could be another’s birdcage liner. BUT A MOTHERFUCKING ZERO IN MECHANICS??? My entry totally lacked spelling, punctuation and grammar, you goddamned manuscript humping bitch? I hope your clitoris is covered in paper cuts.

There I feel much better now.

  1. Was there sex within the first 5 pages?
  2. Did the hero treat the heroine with contempt?
  3. Was the heroine a low level office worker who the boss promotes so that he can get close to her?
  4. Was it set in an exotic location like London or Wyoming?
  5. Did the hero belittle the heroine, but he WAS just joking?
  6. Was there another woman in the hero’s life just to make the heroine jealous so that she would fall in love with him?

The above seems to be what romance publishers seem to want. Hero’s who are assholes but the heroine knows he is a great guy and falls in love with him and he of course is a great guy in the end and never treats her bad again.

Sorry, this is one of those things that make me want to fishslap the romance publishers.

Now onto your OP, yes it sounds like the one judge was definitely biased. Especially since the other two were giving you such high marks. Have you tried submitting one of your short stories to ? They also have a place where they give you the background and then allow readers to write the story.

Maybe the third judge had diarhea that day and kept running to the bathroom and couldn’t really focus on you paper, or perhaps she did get a paper cut on her clit from your submission.

The disparity in the scores is re-mark-able.

If such lilting prose is any indication, I’m guessing your love scenes ain’t exactly Barbara Cartland. :eek:

Just do what Lennox Lewis did. Wait a few months and beat the hell out of somebody.

I do have a way with words, don’t I?
Actually, the experience wasn’t all bad. The other two judges gave me excellent critiques and some good advice. But that 20 and 30 just pissed me off. She offered no critique at all (and that was one of the draws of the contest, no nonsense critique by publishing professionals), just zeros, ones and twos. The ho’.

*Originally posted by deb2world *
1) Was there sex within the first 5 pages?
Nope. One was a Desire and the other was a Special Edition. Catagory romances usually don’t jump right into the sexy parts.

One did and one didn’t.

Nah. My gals can and do take care of themselves.

I loooove London in romances, but I’ve never been so I wouldn’t know how to begin writing in that setting. And I absolutely abhor cowboy romances.

See answer to number one.

** Gotta own up to that one. But she’s not there to make the heroine jealous. She really was there first.

No, no. You’ve got it all wrong. You got a zero in hunky, yet sensitive, half-naked mechanics whose strong hands know just how to handle a faulty carbuerator… or a fiesty woman.

I also want to add that this pit rant was so blistering it actually killed my monitor. I’m being deadly serious about that; I was just finishing the OP when my monitor went flicker flicker flicker CROAK. That’s one hell of a rant!

The bill for my new monitor is in the mail.

Oh, and can I just say “OW!”? I don’t even have a clitoris and I’m still cringing.

Biggirl, I give your rant a 9.7. (Extra points for the papercut curse…) :smiley:

Wow. Yeah, it sounds like that one judge had some agenda and you got in the way of it.

I hope you get published. I think you ought to get published. In a recent splurge of romance reading that I went through I read the MOST absurd trash. I’m sure you’re much better than that.

I’m sure you’ve already heard about this idea, but have you ever considered getting self-published? Just for the helluvit?

Well, I’m waiting for my friend’s rant to come by, so I’ll give this one a 0.2.

Just teasin’. Sorry, Biggirl, it does indeed sound suspicious. Do you have any recourse, anyone to whom you can report your suspicions?

I thought about writing to the contest organizers, but they are well aware of the disparities in the scoring. Both of my submissions came back with a little note:

As for vanity publishing-- well, my stories are definitely series and series romances need line support. Not only that, I’d have no idea what to do with a bunch of self-published books (from what I’ve seen from women who tried vanity presses, what they get is a whole lotta books and no way to distribute them.)

No no no no and no. See, you fail to recognize the morals present in the publishing world. Nobody would do such a thing for a friend. They are far too shallow for that. They would do it for their Nom de Guerre, and maybe a blood relative if a bribe were involved.

I don’t think self-publishing is the greatest idea–but maybe some e-book publishers? Some of them aren’t great companies, but some are fairly reputable. I’m sure if you look around you’ll find something. It’s not taken very seriously in the print publishing world, but there are e-book readers out there. Just a thought.

worth the price of admission, all by itself.

(remember, I have friends in [sub]low[/sub] places, should the need arise)

Biggirl: In my mind I was thinking of you publishing with or something. You’d have no extra books collecting dust in your garage, not a whole lot of money spent up-front, and you’d get your books listed in and B&N. Certainly this is not as good as getting the books published by Harlequin or something, but maybe you should see if any other romance writers have done iUniverse (or some other “print on demand” company) and see how they like it.

I have been knocking around doing a “how-to” non-fiction book, and in my case, I think self-publishing with iUniverse or some similar publisher isn’t such a bad idea. I already have a fairly established web site and I could just link the book to the web site and see if anyone wanted to buy it. (I don’t have any grand expectations, of course, but it sounds like fun!) Since my potential book is non-fiction it’s a totally different thing from your book, but still—a lot of people are going this route and are relatively happy with it.