On Pins and Needles
Eagerly awaiting the reading of the first line of my book, August 17, I felt keen disappointment when the emcee read another line–of my competitor’s book. Before naming the title, they read the first line. They then announced that the judges had awarded First Place to two books, a tie. The judges had never done that before in this contest. Again I anticipated the emcee reading the first line of my book. But I again felt keen disappointment when they read another author’s line.
I congratulated the winners. I went to them and shook their hand. Lynn Hare, a kind member of Oregon Christian Writers, took pictures of all three of us (John Avery for The Name Quest and Jim Hills for Garage Sale of The Mind). I posted this picture in my last blog. After the conclusion, during a social time, a co-chair of the contest approached me with the information that “the scores were very close.” I appreciated her communicating that information to me.
Here is the criteria against which the judges scored my book: Opening effectively introduces topic and tells readers what the book is about. (10 points) Book answers a felt need. (10) Book title and chapter titles are interesting and make readers want to read more. (10) Author establishes knowledge and authority with subject through personal experience or research. (10) Book is well-written, interesting, and easy to understand. Author paints word pictures to help readers understand. (10) Structure: Book is well-organized and designed in a logical way. (10)Author has a strong command of grammar, punctuation, and spelling. The level of craftsmanship is high. (10) Author effectively uses anecdotes and facts to illustrate points and set the stage. (10) Book has a spiritual thread that is natural for the story or seems appropriate for the Christian market. (10) Conclusion is satisfying and delivers what was promised in the beginning. (10) If you’re writing a book, you might want to jot down those criteria to make your work conform.
Since that night, I received the scores of the Finalist judges, both writing professionals. On the 10-point scale, one ranked my book from 10 (highest) to 8, whereas another ranked from 9 to 7. This second judge, therefore, rated the book 10 points lower than the first, thus ensuring my book wasn’t the winner. I know also, however, that he liked my book. He said so in his comments and in a personal email to me encouraging the books greater exposure. “I’m glad to help promote such an important book,” he said.
In spite of not winning, and maybe because of it, I determined to work all the harder to give my book the visibility it needs. Many people who deal with tragedy need hope; Tragedy Transformed provides that hope. If you’ve read the book, would you let me know your response?