hoo-ha in Presents Land

Last movie watched: Little Miss Sunshine
Playing right now on the iPod: Boys of Summer by Don Henley

Okay, so I should be doing line edits for my latest book,  but I simply couldn’t not read all about the storm brewing over on IHeartPresents.  Running a writing contest is not easy (done that), nor is judging or entering (yeah, done that a bajillion times too).  But when the winners to their “Harlequin Presents Writing Competition 2009” were announced, what started out as a ‘yay, congratulations!’ thread quickly denigrated into insults, snarkism, sour grapes and/or just down-right nasty name calling.

Now, the rules did state that published authors could enter (including Harlequin authors) as long as they weren’t currently under contract, which has been a big bone of contention with many commenters.  Now, when you talk about ‘being under contract’, it means that you have yet to fulfill your current obligations within a contract.  For e.g. mine read that I need to deliver a proposal, then a full manuscript by a due date.  Once done, I have x amount of days to deliver any revisions and/or line edits.  I will  get paid within this time frame.  So, I have fulfilled my contract when I’ve finished my final edits and my editor has received it in his inbox AND I’ve been paid for my hard work.   End of contract.

I find it disheartening that many commenters chose to attack the published winners, even going so far as to say that because they weren’t sufficiently excited enough, they didn’t deserve to win.  I’m sorry but excitement is personal – and this comes from having a very English stiff-upper lip father who’s idea of enthusiasm is saying, ‘yes, that’s pretty good’.  (I swear, he’d still say that if I discovered world peace tomorrow!)

I’ve been through the massive treadmill of contests.  I’ve been a judge, and entrant, a contest manager.  I’ve made contest policy, critique sheets and had the most horrific of feedback imaginable.  Setbacks make us stronger.  One of my favorite quotes?   The difference between a published author and an unpublished one is that the unpublished one gave up.

Be nice to yourselves these holidays and remember, we are romance writers.  Spread the love!


9 comments on “hoo-ha in Presents Land

  1. Excellent post, Paula. I think the big thing people seem to have forgotten is that Harlequin doesn’t have to run these contests. It’s an amazing opportunity they’re giving here and the sense of entitlement is just mind boggling.

    But I am all for spreading the love. I shall try and cobble together some alpha males to send to people as gifts…now that’s sharing the love.

  2. Very well said, Paula. I have no idea what happens with authors at Harlequin so I appreciate the clarification. But even with this explanation, which I believe has been repeated on iheart, people are still upset, which puzzles me greatly. Oh well, I hope all four winners are quietly celebrating this great achievement! I for one are looking forward to reading their entries!


  3. FWIW, I don’t think it was Maggie Marr’s lack of excitement that infuriated people, but her somewhat dismissive description of the Presents contest in general and, I suspect, her charming admission that before knocking off her sample chapter she had no idea even what a category romance was: ‘What fun to dash off this lovely little chapter (that practically wrote itself) and then become a finalist!’

    For some of the poor souls who had spent, or so they claimed, long months labouring over their own submissions only to receive a form rejection, that blog entry was seen as insensitive.

    Of course, writers have a perfect right to blog in any way they choose. But readers also have a perfect right to read those blogs in any way they choose. With hindsight, MM’s thoughts would perhaps have been better expressed to a friend, rather than the world. As her more recent blog entry suggests.

    I’m not bothered, thankfully. I have my own fish to fry. But we all have to consider PR before putting finger to keyboard these days. The world has become such a tiny place.

    Good to find your blog, by the way; I’ll link to it from my new one.

  4. HQ have every right to award the prize to the best writer.

    The sychophancy of the pubbed authors going into raptures about what a favour the editors are doing everyone by running a comp is a bit much though. It’s their job, sure nobody has an entitlement to win the comp or get feedback or a response at all but the HQ eds need to suck up criticism as much as the rejected writers need to suck up their rejection. Actually I think it’s water off a ducks back to the eds, nobody has to like them, they’ve got all the power.

  5. Hi Jane – granted, Ms Marr could’ve been a bit more tactful in her whole ‘dash off a chapter’ post. But I took the snarky Ihearts post to mean if she wasn’t jumping for joy, then she wasn’t deserving. (not sure what to do about your link prob – does this mean you can click to the blog via your bookmarked link?)

    Hmmm – you’re right in that by running a comp, the eds need to be prepared for criticism. But I honestly don’t believe editors don’t care if you like them or not 🙂 Authors talk and share amongst themselves and you can bet if an ed. is author-unfriendly they won’t stay in the business for long.

  6. Good point Paula, yes those networks of writers or even readers have a way of biting back eventually. Upset them at your peril 🙂

    Shall make a point to buy a copy of your next release. All the best.

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