Earlier this year, as part of a flurry of competition entries, I entered A Thousand Rooms, my standalone women’s fiction novel, in the 25th Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards.
It was a long shot. I knew that. One of the most respected independent book competitions around, the contest attracts thousands of entries from around the world. However, you can’t win the lottery if you don’t have a ticket, so I thought it might be worth a try. Another attraction was the fact that I would get, as part of my entry fee, feedback from the judge assigned to my title.
Well, I didn’t make the final shortlist. Oh well. However, I recently received my promised feedback and was very pleased. Feedback scores are ranked from 1 to 5, with 1 being ‘needs improvement’ and 5 being ‘outstanding.’
My scores were as follows:
Structure, Organization, and Pacing: 4
Spelling, Punctuation, and Grammar: 4
Production Quality and Cover Design: 5
Plot and Story Appeal: 5
Character Appeal and Development: 4
Voice and Writing Style: 5
Furthermore, the judge offered the following comments:
I was really very excited when I discovered that the author has a fantastic writing style and a voice that is perfectly suited for the genre. This is a good book… I love this type of plot line and it certainly kept me entertained and turning the pages. The author has done a great job with strong, fast pacing that doesn’t lag. And an equally great job of realistic dialogue that also presents with a nix (sic) mix of dialogue and narrative. I wish that more authors would focus on this element when it comes to fiction writing. A nice, satisfying ending left me with a smile on my face. This was just simply a solid entry… Best of luck with this book and I hope to read more from this author.
I was very pleased with this feedback, as you can imagine.
However, I haven’t written this post just to sing my own praises 🙂 One of the things I lost marks on was spelling, punctuation and grammar. Now, I had this book professionally edited, so I doubt that spelling was an issue, unless the American judge didn’t like my use of colour, favour, etc. While they didn’t specify spelling as an issue, they did point out one specific issue they saw – my use of single quotation marks throughout the book, which they described as ‘incorrect and an unnecessary distraction.’
Incorrect? Not in this country. In fact, I’m currently reading The Essex Serpent, a British bestseller from last year, and the quotation marks throughout? Single.
Perhaps, had the judge realised I was a UK-based author, they may have been more lenient. However, it was a lesson to me, as a writer who sells books around the world, that I might want to reconsider my use of quotation marks. It’s a small thing, but it may have made the difference to my entry. (Or not, more than likely – I really don’t know).
So, not the end of the world. I received excellent feedback, and I learned a lesson. Not bad for a competition entry. And I thought I might share it with you.
If you enjoyed this post and would like to read more, you can find me on Twitter @AuthorHelenJ, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Plus my latest book release, A Thousand Rooms, is now available on Amazon. Visit my Amazon Author Page to see more.