In June of 2016 I wrote Black King Takes White Queen for my daughter for her birthday that month. It's a long book because I did world-building and had dozens of characters to introduce in this first in a series novels. It's sort of magical realism/urban fantasy/cross genre writing.
At the end of October 2016, on the spur of the moment, I submitted it to Chanticleer reviews OZMA Award contest for fantasy. It hadn't even been thoroughly edited yet. I'd done a lot with it, but it wasn;t exactly how I wanted it to be yet, but I sent it anyway. In January 2017 I was informed via email that the novel was a finalist for the short list. In February it advanced and was short listed. That's as far as it got, but as a shortlister I was invited to be at the awards ceremony and sell my novel in the authors room. I couldn't fly to Washington state because John had lost his job and I was having RA issues due to all the stress in my life. But I was thrilled, excited, and happy to have my novel short-listed.
So, in April I entered it in Writer's Digest's Self Published Novel Contest. I had further edited and revised the novel, given it a cover upgrade, and overhauled the interior to make it look as professionally published as possible.
I got the results back today and it sort of pulled the rug out from under my feet. The female judge was harsh. She marked me low on just about everything except appearance of the book (which was what I had been marked the lowest on when I'd entered The Archetypes-First Generation and My Magical Life in the same contest two years ago while the stories themselves got high marks, although unconventional)
It's discouraging to get a bad "report card" on the same novel that was short-listed in another contest (the improved version even!)
But, here's the lesson learned here- some people will like it, and others will not. It's a matter of personal preference. A writer can't let someone else's issues interfere in their creative process. There were tidbits of good advice in the critique but the whole "report card" was just very off-putting in tone; not in what was said, but in the speaking-down-to-you attitude that came across the page.
My reaction- get off your high horse, lady! I do all the work myself from writing to editing, proofreading, interior layout design, cover design, back cover copy writing, publishing, etc.- I wear a lot of hats. I've only been doing this for two years. And I also work a full time job to help support my family. But, I would never play the superiority card on anyone!
Please don't ever let me get that full of myself that I forget how hard writers work- and how we all have different styles, different and unique voices. We don't all conform to the whims and ways of big name publishers- that's why we SELF Publish!