First off a bit of a disclaimer, I’m going to try and be circumspect in this post, I’m sincerely going to try. I don’t want this to be a rant but there’s every chance that it may end up that way. The other party has not responded yet and I’m still putting together exactly what I’m going to say to them.
In this blog I’ve spoken at length about writing and that the first step I was taking to try and get my novel published was entering a competition,the Storylines Tessa Duder Award for unpublished YA novels, and that I was desperately waiting to hear the results. Well I finally found out on Thursday and not only did I not win but nobody won. Now, not winning would obviously be disappointing, not making the finalist list doubly so but no winner at all? Well that feels like a slap in the face. But if there had been some communication around the issue, if they’d explained how they’d come to this non decision I may have felt a bit better about this whole thing. So here’s the timeline:
30 October 2012: I printed off 6 copies of my manuscript and with my application forms
31 October 2012: I realise I didn’t include the synopsis and email (via the website – the only contact details) explaining and asking if they can add my synopsis to my application once it arrives.
6 November 2012: I email Storylines to ask if they received my previous email and my application.
6 November 2012: Storylines emails to say they’ve received my application
7 November 2012: Storylines emails to say they did put my synopsis with my application, which they also received
5 March 2013: To try and stop myself going completely out of my mind (because it’s pretty much all I could think about) I emailed and asked if they knew when the finalists were going to be announced, if possibly there was a time line.
11 March 2013: Storylines responded to say that they had no idea when the finalists would be announced but the announcement would be made in March (given the winner was to be announced on 6th April, I’d figured that)
3 April 2013: I gave up being patient and gave up my ‘I don’t want to pester them’ approach and emailed saying that while I assume I had not won, would they be announcing the finalists?
4 April 2013, 5.15pm: I received an email thanking me for my application, telling me I’d been unsuccessful (Funnily enough I’d figured that out) and that would not be an award. It then goes on about their mission to support writers.
4 April 2013, 5.46pm: I emailed asking why no award was being made – was it because of quality or logistics
5 April 2013: In a rear case of actually emailing in a timely manner I received a response saying that they’d decided not make an award
I replied on the 6th (the day of the awards so no response yet) that was much more demanding and snippy.
I’m not pleased, I don’t think that telling contestants less than 48 hours before the award is due to be publicly announced is acceptable. Had I been communicated with, had I been treated with some respect for the investment – monetary, emotional and in time – that the contestants had made. Sharing your writing with anyone is difficult, even sending it off to friends is like(I imagine) sending your child off to school for the first time – will they like it? will they get it? will it be the smelly kid in the corner that no one wants to sit next to? So sending it off to a group of professionals is even worse.
I’ve barely been able to concentrate on anything this year, ever time my phone rings I wondered if it was the call I’d been waiting for, I checked the website and my emails, several times a day. I now feel like the person in American Idol who thinks they’re amazing but is actually tone deaf.
The way see it there a few options as to what happened:
- There weren’t enough entries – though they would have known this by early November.
- There weren’t any entries of the required standard – now I can believe that there’s a book better than mine and I’ve not won, I can believe there are 5 entries better than mine and I’m not a finalist, I would have been disappointed obviously, but it would have understood.
- There weren’t any entries that met the publisher’s publishing style
- They were as poorly organised as their communication suggests ad they just never got it organised.
Whatever the reason, I need some answers, I need to know that next year’s contestants won’t receive the same treatment. Considering that the organisation and award claims to ‘support writers’ I’m feeling far from supported and I’m certainly not feeling like a writer.