This Question Arrived in my mailbox this morning:
Good Mornin' M.R. Jordan!
Just out of curiosity...
If I had formatted my story titled:
'Follow the Leader' correctly; would I have won 'first place' in the contest???
Thanks so much!
Yesterday when I expressed my frustration at his attitude in my email--. to be clear I was mostly incensed by his disregard for all the wonderful authors who this prize would have meant something-- replied "Honesty is the best policy," in very large text.
Today, he's humbly asked a good question. I posted this question publicly because everybody deserves a chance at redemption. Doug isn't a bad guy, he's an author who-- despite is claims of having no hope of wining-- expected to win the contest. He's struggling to wrap his mind around the unexpected result. I can totally understand that.
At the end of the day, it was my decision, and my decision is final. That's the simple answer. But I think the long answer could help other writers.
Now, usually in a contest situation the contestant has no idea why they didn't win. In this case, I did contest and critique together. Doug has a tangible idea and it's probably the most frustrating reason of all.
Had he followed standard manuscript format (Which he didn't meet for a heck of a lot more reasons than title.) he would have been on equal footing with Cathy Bryant. At that point I would have had to look for another tie breaker. I don't know if Doug would have one, or not. I'm not sure how I would have broken the tie. It might have come down to flipping a coin. Both are great stories.
But I didn't have to look for a tie breaker. Doug handed me one on a a silver platter. As much as a lot of writers will struggle with the idea that something like format could prevent a sale, the truth is, there are lots of things writers don't think are important that result in form rejections and disqualifications.
My contest was small, so I gave everyone a fair chance to win. In the big contests weeding out the writers who didn't follow the rules is the first thing they do. So long, farewell, no notifications necessary. And look, as I said in Doug's critique, if his story is exactly what a publication is looking for or the editor thinks it's the best out of all the submissions, then format might not matter. But when it comes down to two stories the editor likes equally, then yes, extra work on the editor's part will result in a form rejection.
I personally would rather force an editor to flip a coin, than get rejected over something I have complete control over.
One last note. I'm not keeping up with the critiques very well. If you're waiting on your critique, you'll be getting an email from me today. If you don't get one, please let me know.
Mariel R. is an ESL teacher, horse trainer, writer, editor, sporadic blogger, and lover of beer. She lives in South Korea with two house cats, three horses, a German Shepherd and three barn cats .
Bear (Gom in Korean) then (above) now (below)
Geumbi (Goldy in English) R.I.P February, 23, 2018