Last year I entered my poetry collection, Twisted Velvet Chains, into the 20th Annual Writer's Digest Annual Self-Published Book Awards. If you know me well, you know that I'm quite against paying to submit things. But when it's something as prestigious as Writer's Digest, even I can sometimes be swayed.
When I hit that submit button though, I fretted. Big time. I thought I had set myself up for some major criticism. I thought that the conservative judges (well, that was an assumption on my part), wouldn't "get me". Oh how wrong I was!
I didn't win, but I received the judge's feedback today. Here's what it said:
Books were evaluated on a scale of 1 to 5. This scale is strictly to provide a point of reference, it is not a cumulative score and does not reflect ranking.
Structure and Organization: 4
Production Quality and Cover Design: 4
Plot (if applicable): N/A
Character Development (if applicable): N/A
What did you like best about this book?
Twisted Velvet Chains by Jessica Bell is a soul-wrenching collection successfully focusing on the mother-daughter angst in most such relationships, yet she goes deeper, because the relationship goes deeper, through childhood and teen and young adult scenarios.
Poems like "Gothic Neanderthal" and lines like: Grey netting hangs / from naked papery breasts, / dark purple tulle / fastened round her waist / black smudges / smeared 'cross her face. / patterned like lace / wet stringy hair / sticks / to her brow / her neck / wet cotton / sweat / toxic breath / menstruation blood / the onion soup we ate for lunch / I dry-wretch" // ... are potent, visceral.
This is a strong and well-represented collection. Kudos to Jessica Bell.
How can the author improve this book?Oh. My. Gosh. I am so thrilled! A "proper" judge liked my work. Now this is enough for me to gain confidence in my poetry again. Recently I've been thinking that I'm crap, as you most likely know, writers' emotions are frequently in flux.
Very little raised red flags. I suppose the cover could have been a little bit sharper. The interior was well done. Overall, a very nice book.
Will I enter again this year? Yup. But this time I'm going to enter my new novella.
How do you feel about competitions like these? Worth it? Have you had any good/bad experiences with writing competitons? What impact did these experiences have on you?