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Final Three in Dorchester

January 6, 2010

This first week of 2010 has been one filled with emotional ups and downs so far. Am I PMSing? Eh, maybe.

I was pleased to read tweets – and back-track to other tweets (and retweets) – regarding the Dorchester contest and one particular judge’s unprofessional comments. I was even more pleased to see some fellow writers took the time to post a polite and tactful response on Dorchester’s message board.

One textnovelist tweeted: Aspiring authors: Many talk about importance of researching a publisher before submitting. Research their contests, too.

So often we’re told in this business to not speak out – to be mindful of every single thing we type and how it might jeopardize our chances of getting an agent or a publishing contract. And I agree, that is very good advice.

But everything has a time and place.

After all – what were these readers expecting? Doesn’t it take a great editor and publisher to make a an incredible book come into being? This article from the NY times seems to think so. It’s written from an editor’s point of view about the ebook craze of e-publishing work after the copyright reverts back to the writer. It implies the work of William Styron, the author of Sophie’s Choice, would never have been what it was without the editor and publisher.

So on that note I ask – are the reader judges in the Dorchester contest expecting too much? Did the editors who picked the final five see a good piece with potential if they could work with the MS and hone it to perfection and perhaps these same editors weren’t aware a reader judge would not have this same level of insight?

I promised a hard copy of my book to several book reviewers from Amazon, blogging book reviewers and several reviewers on Goodreads. The two reviews (based on pdf copies) that have been posted so far on Goodreads were honest, mostly complimentary and pointed out what they didn’t like as well.

In light of the comments on the Dorchester site I think I may be making a mistake. Should I be sending an unedited version of my MS out to book reviewers? Will this hurt my chances for future sales because of the stellar improvements an editor would suggest?

I’m honestly not sure. I think I wrote a good book but there is always room for improvement. I naively assumed an editor would want a highly polished and marketable piece to even consider taking it on – and that my book was those things – but after reading that NY times article I started to wonder.

I have been incredibly fortunate to have a loyal reader base on facebook. This following has given me what very few writers have – confidence in what I have written. For that I am forever grateful (love you guys!).

That confidence has allowed me to read an opinion of my work – even a hateful one – and get by. I was talking about it yesterday with Supriya, my main writing buddy (who is blogging over at Wicked Writers today, please stop by and say hello), and she was the one that pointed out how different I am in that regard compared to other writers. I have literally had thousands of people read the opening seven chapters of my book and at least 1400 liked it enough to tell me so publicly.

I’ll be the first to admit that if I lose this contest it will sting – but it will not stop me or my book from getting published.

I doubt now that I will hear anything constructive from the Dorchester judges if I am eliminated this Friday that I have not already heard from the published authors who’ve judged my work in the last six contests. It’s been pretty cut and dry – they either love it and I’m a finalist or they hate it and I’m out (and I got results from one on Monday that two judges were over 20 pts apart – 71 and 92 out of 100, third judge called in gave it a 66 – so I was out).

It comes down to this – my book isn’t for everyone. And I know it.

The judges who didn’t like my book in past contests have basically said the same thing – not enough romantic conflict, perhaps this isn’t a true romance book and I need to try a mystery or fantasy contest (and I’m not including the ones who hate my MC, my style of writing or think I need to learn how to write better; they were a little harsh).

The judges I bothered to listen to are right. I don’t think my book falls under the traditional romance category for a lot of reasons – BUT Urban Fantasy is being billed and placed on the shelves under romance so I figured it was worth a shot. And the Dorchester contest is a Romance one – will my book be a good fit?

In my quest to find an agent and a publishing contract I think I’m going to try out the Fantasy contests next. The mystery of the dead body is more of a subplot but introducing it in the opening makes it seem like the focus – so I’m worried if I try the mystery route the judges will be shocked at the sex.

But in any event – I’ll wait until January 8th or the 15th when the final winner is announced to plan my next step. I still have hope and there is no need to shop a new genre until I find out if I’ve lost.

Cheers and Happy Humpday,

C.J.
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2 Comments leave one →
  1. January 6, 2010 5:19 pm

    I am so glad to hear that optimism. I can't wait to see the book published. It will be a great day!

  2. January 6, 2010 8:55 pm

    Thanks for stopping by Gypsy! Always glad to hear someone is reading my ramblings ;-)I'll be sure to keep everyone posted on the publishing date – more like I'll be shouting it from the rooftops. If you're near DC you'll haveto come for the party!

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