The main feedback we had for entrants was to read the instructions!
In this final part of the series of feedback posts from the Strelitzia contest, I'd like to look at something that was more of an issue in the 2016 Imbali Awards than in the 2017 Strelitzias, however since we are changing the length requirements in 2018, I am including this advice here: manuscript length.
In 2018, Strelitzia entries will be limited to the first three chapters, not to exceed 15,000 words.
It is essential that you check the word counts / number of pages / number of chapters requested for the submission. The reason is simple: our judges (for both the Strelitzia and Imbali awards) are all volunteers. They are giving their own (often very limited) time to read the entries. It is very difficult for us to attract a sufficient number of judges if we have to say to them up front “you may have to read five 120,000 word epic novels.” And if we do not have enough judges signed up to ensure that each entry gets at least three separate reads, then we have to limit the number of entries we can accept.
Why do we want every entry to receive at least three reads? Ideally, we'd like each entry read by at least 4-5 judges! Reading preferences are so incredibly subjective. If one reader hates your hero, for example, but another has no problem with him, your score will be pulled right down. But if one reader hates your hero and two others like him, the negative score has less impact. Of course, if three readers all hate your hero, you may need to take the judges’ advice on board and do some further editing!
My final piece of advice has nothing to do with reading instructions or following the rules, but should just be basic, common sense: ensure that the work you submit is the highest quality possible.
- Study the craft of writing and ensure you understand the basic requirements of a romance novel.
- Read your submission through thoroughly before you submit.
- Edit it to the best of your ability - and then edit it again.
- Get a beta reader to read through it to catch any typos, grammatical errors, misspelt or misused words, before you submit.
This is an award for excellence. In the event that the entries do not achieve excellence, the trophy will not be awarded. ROSA’s own reputation is on the line, and if we were to award the trophy to entries that are riddled with errors, contain plot holes, under-developed characters and conflicts, and are not yet ready to submit to an agent or editor, the entire organisation's credibility will suffer.
We know you can do it. We know you can follow the guidelines, write a synopsis and submit great work. We know you have excellence within you. We just need a little help from you to ensure that the judges see it and reward it
And as we move into 2018, we'll be giving you a little help to get there too!