It’s Time for Some Contest Changes

March 2000
by Cheryl Miller Thurston

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My company has just about given up entering our books in publishing contests. We are tired of feedback that is irrelevant and sometimes even silly. No, it’s not sour grapes. Cottonwood Press books have received honorable mentions in the Benjamin Franklin Awards, Colorado Book Awards, and Colorado Independent Publishers Awards contests. Many remarks by contest judges have been quite illuminating and instructive. However, many of them have caused my staff members to laugh and roll their eyes. Here are just a few examples: A judge criticized us for using the color “chocolate brown” on a book cover that pictured a bowl of ice cream dripping with hot fudge sauce. A judge lowered our score in mechanics for capitalizing the word Is in a quotation from a line of poetry, even though we had quoted the poem accurately. A judge took us to task for using actual student work in examples of actual student work by middle school students. He thought the student drawings should have been more “professionally done.” We were told we should change the subtitle of a book from Teaching Students to Write Free Verse to Teach Your Students Poetry, even though that is not what the book is about. (To our market audience of English teachers, there is a big difference between the two. “Teaching poetry” is much more comprehensive and may not even include writing at all.) Contest judges often criticize us for not following publishing “rules,” even if there are very good reasons for not follow…IBPA Members – Click here to view the full article (login required).

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