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Entering the MBT Frasier Contest: Rejection From a Judge’s Point of View

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Rejection, though undeniably painful, does not have to hold us back from accomplishing what God wants us to do. 

~Jennifer Benson Shuldt

After entering one of my first writing contests, I was determined never to enter another. After all, my low scores attested to judges’ inabilities to recognize talent, right?

Uh huh…

Actually my own inflated view of my words and lack of growth as a writer contributed to those scores. 

Looking back, entering that contest gave me an initial taste of rejection in the publishing world. I could have given up at that point because, after all, why bother?

But I didn’t. I know I was supposed to be a writer because I could feel God’s calling in my life.

That contest entry motivated me to learn, to grow as a writer.

As a previous judge for the Frasier, and for other writing contests, I’ve been able to see how agents and editors can read just a couple of pages before they’re able to determine a writer’s level of ability. 

And I know the low scores I’ve given entrants have caused discouragement. I promise it was not my intent. 

As a contest judge, I’d like to offer three bits of wisdom:

  • Judging is subjective. What I love, another judge may dislike. What I dislike may resonant with another judge. Reading is subjective. Trying to write a story that pleases everyone is impossible. Write the story of your heart. 
  • Low scores encourage growth. Would you prefer to have a contest judge say your entry isn’t ready for publicatioin, or would you rather risk that one shot with your dream agent or editor? Feedback offers you an opportunity to improve your craft so when it’s time to submit to an agent or editor, then you will have a stronger chance to gain a publishing contract.
  • Rejection shows your courage. You’re willing to put your work out there for others to read. This leap of faith doesn’t go unnoticed by editors and agents seeking wonderful stories. When you take steps to strengthen your skills, that tells them you’re willing to grow as a writer and improve your writing abilities. It shows you have a teachable spirit and you’re willing to invest in your career.

As you ponder writing contests this season, I recommend entering the Fraiser. My Book Therapy is an organization of integrity, and Susan May Warren has a heart for helping new writers find their voices and developing their talents. 

Entries for the 2013 MBT Frasier Contest for unpublished novelists will be accepted through Sunday, March 31, at 11:59 p.m. The contest is open to Voices members. The winner will receive a scholarship to a My Book Therapy coaching retreat ($500 value). Final round judges are award-winning author Susan May Warren; literary agent Steve Laube; and Shannon Marchese, senior fiction editor for WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group. For more information, FAQs and to enter, visit http://www.mybooktherapy.com/frasier-contest/.

Your Turn: Why do you enter writing contests? How much stock do you place in judges’ feedback? What value do contests hold for you?

Lisa Jordan
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