Tuesday, April 13, 2010


Golden Heart scores are returning to mailboxes worldwide, and there are probably more than a few of you who are confused or disappointed or even elated at what you've received. If you're elated, then this post probably isn't for you. ;)

But if you're confused or disappointed, listen up. Yes, five people gave you scores that vary between fabulous to horrendous and you want to know how some people hate what you wrote and others love it. And you're probably thinking the ones who hate you are closer to right than the ones who liked you (because writers are contrary like that).

I'm here to tell you that it doesn't matter. That the ones who hate you aren't any more right than the ones who love you. There will always be people who don't like what you write. Trust me. It doesn't go away once you get published. In fact, it gets worse in some ways, because the people who dislike your work will write scathing reviews that will sit on the web for others to read. It's simply one of the things you'll have to learn to live with.

So learn to live with it now, while it's still between you and the anonymous judge. Wear your 5 (or 1) with pride. You made someone feel something, and even if it's not what you hoped to make them feel, it's far better than apathy.

The Golden Heart is a fabulous contest, and yes, being a finalist is a wonderful feeling. But remember that you don't need to be a finalist to sell a book. I was a finalist in 2008, and it was the most wonderful experience. But I didn't win and I didn't sell that book. In fact, though I was a finalist, someone gave me a 4.5. Someone hated me. :)

Obviously, it didn't matter. I sold a different book, and I'm about to celebrate the release of my 3rd book in June. I didn't win the Golden Heart, but I did hit the USA Today bestseller list with my 2nd book. And someone gave me a 4.5 in the GH. :)

So don't worry about those scores. Think about them for a day or so, but put them aside and get back on the horse. Ultimately, they don't matter. What you do now matters. How you move forward matters. That's it. :)


Cari Hislop said...

I've never entered the Golden Heart, but I totally agree with you. There are different kinds of writers writing different kinds of stories for different kinds of readers. Some people love my work some don't. Some people share my humour some don't. I don't think people who don't like my stories have bad taste, they just need a different kind of story or storyteller and that's fine.

I think varying feed back early in a writing career is a blessing in disguise. Hearing "This is rubbish!" along side a "This is great!" is real life. There's never been a writer or story teller liked by all people and that's the way it is. When we accept this reality we get on with doing what we do for the people who like it and leave someone else to write stories for those other people.

Of course I think my brain children are the best, but that's because I write the kind of stories I like to read. ;)

Melanie Dickerson said...

So true! Contests are valuable in many ways, but not if they stymie you. You have to move forward and do the next thing! That person who gave you a one? They were having a bad day, and even on a good day, they kick their dog and scowl at little old ladies!

Christine said...

Very timely. I got my scores back for an MS that was a MAGGIE finalist. The scores ranged from a 4 (someone hated it) to a 9 (woohoo). Go figure. I just file those puppies and compare the scores year to year. It'll be interesting to see the range for the same MS over time LOL.

Lexi said...

Lynn, this is a timely post. I got my scores back from the GH and, quite frankly, I was shocked. I did terrible! The same manuscript that finaled or won numerous contests last year tanked in the GH. I got a 9 . . . and a 2!!! A freaking 2! My Labrador Retriever could write better than that. Only one judge really liked it and the rest HATED it!

If I were counting on this contest to change my life, I'd really be in a tailspin right now. In fact, it might have made me rethink writing all together.

I'm no newbie to contests, but this one really blew my mind. I sure would love to know if the (insert rude word here) that ranked me were pubbed. On second thought, maybe I don't want to know . . .

Lynn Raye Harris said...

Hi, Cari. I agree that it's important to get feedback! Sometimes that critique that tears up your story, however gently, is very necessary. We don't learn if we're always told it's perfect. But you are so right that no one is ever liked by all. It just isn't realistic. All you have to do is go to Amazon and read the comments on books considered to be classics to get an idea of the varying opinions out there. :)

Melanie, absolutely! Everyone has a bad day, and that can certainly color opinions.

Christine, that's precisely what I mean! You were a Maggie finalist, and yet someone in the GH hated your work. You can never tell. You have the right attitude, though! File it and move on!

Jeanie, you are certainly proof how silly scores can be! Is this the book you recently sold? But I can tell you it doesn't matter if they were published or not. I entered the RITA. Clearly, I did not final. And I did not ask for my scores back. No way did I want to see those puppies. :) Obviously, there were people who did not like my book. I'm glad I don't know just how much they didn't like it, though. :)

Callie James said...

Timely post, Lynn. I received mine back yesterday. Like most people, I got a mixed bag, although I did get a 8.6 and a 9, which always feels good.

BUT,I have to say, editors and agents request my work now more than when I did better in contests. Frankly, I prefer that over a contest final or win any day. :)

After all, that's why we're writing. To sell.

Lexi said...

Yes, Lynn, the manuscript was Demons in Dixie, the book I just sold. You are very wise, I think, not to ask for your Rita scores back. Why dwell on the negative? I am certainly going to do my best to forget about the GH! Ouch!

Christine said...

Jeanie: My CP finaled with one MS this year, but her other one was in the BOTTOM half. She got a 3 on it! Crazy. That same MS finaled in the Maggie and placed second or won the Daphne.

I'm glad you sold your book. That's the real deal!

Lexi said...

Thanks, Christine. I was in the bottom third, too. Stings, but I'm moving on!

Lynn Raye Harris said...

Callie: Absolutely! Getting requests is far better than winning contests. :)

Jeanie: you get the last laugh, my dear. :) You SOLD. Hugs on the bad scores, but as you know firsthand, the book is quite sellable. :) Sometimes it does come down to the mix of judges you get.

Julie Johnstone said...

I really needed to read this post! Thank you so much for reminding me of the flip side. I entered an ms that has finaled in every contest I've entered it into until the GH. I got slammed by a judge. She, or maybe he, hated my book, and I cried myself to sleep last night. Today, I picked myself up and dusted off, but this post was a great reminder!

M.V.Freeman said...

I totally agree Lynn!
Excellent post!

Carla Swafford said...

Last year I didn't final, but my book received the best average than all the others of mine years prior. So I went back and changed within reason everything other contest judges commented on. Then I entered it again. The scores were lower than before!

Like they say, it's a crapshoot.

Time to write some more.

Gwen Hernandez said...

Well said, Lynn. I couldn't agree more! Thanks for the published author's insight.

Naima Simone said...

Amen,Lynn! Awesome post and it couldn't be more timely! I'm passing it along!

Marian Pearson Stevens said...

Here here Lynn! It's such a crapshoot. It's all about finaling and if you didn't, move on. But at least you put yourself out there. Kudos for that.


Lynn Raye Harris said...

Oh Julie, hugs! I've been there, and so have a lot of us I think. Glad if this post helped you at all! I entered the GH 4 times before I finally became a finalist. :)

Carla, it's definitely a crapshoot.

M.V., Gwen, Naima, and Marion: Thanks! I'm so glad you liked the post! :)

Lanna Kaye said...

As several have said, this is ABSOLUTELY a timely post. I scored a 9, 8.5, 6, 5.9 and 5.1. My face surely was reflecting my 'what the heck?' thoughts as I opened that envelope. But as my CP reminded me, Mary Buckham once told us in a workshop that when you get mixed scores, you're doing something right!!! I'm holding on to that. :)

And for those of you who received actual comments, when did you get those? All I receieved were the scores on a single page.

Eden Glenn said...

Yeah, that is a challenge. No comments back from the GH to know what they were thinking. My scores ranged from a 8.7 down to a 4.5 well two 4.5's actually and a 6.0 and a 7.1. Go figure. Wish I knew what they were thinking?

The same manuscript finaled in the Beacon unpublished and the Winter Rose. I appreciate getting the constructive comments from the judges in those contests. Granted sometimes comments are wonkey as the scores but then you have a frame of reference anyway.

I'm choosing to be thankful that I had such a range. I think I would feel worse if the scores were all fours or fives across the board.

Eden Glenn
2nd pl Beacon
Final - Winter Rose