Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A Truly Open Contest/Reading Period

The thing that I really don't like about contests:  I don't know shit about what's going on with the process.  So I have a proposition:  have a truly open process.  I don't think this would be so hard.  I think it actually would be really cool and different.

This is how I imagine it working:

  • Everyone can see everyone's name
What's the point?  I'd like to know who actually entered the contest.  There is no way to observe other people's receipts and see the actual forms in other contests.  Who is to say that the people who win even entered?  There is no way to prove it.

  • Everyone can see everyone's entry
Why do I want to see everyone's entry?  Because I want to see if it's taken at face value, not potential value.  I know what a good editor can do with a manuscript.  I've seen it.  I've done it.  I'd also like to be able to say, "man, they made a mistake and I hope that entry by so-and-so gets picked up, cause it's badass."
  • Everyone can see the judges'/editors' comments on everyone's work
Why?  Because getting a form letter saying "thanks for entering our contest/giving us money, but you lose," doesn't really tell anyone why the judges/publishers chose the work they did.  And I paid you $20 for what?  They say marvelous things about the winners, but nothing about the losers.  I would love to see a real genuine letter announcing the losers (which is basically what seeing the comments would sorta be like).  The letter would go something like this:  "We got a shit load of submissions from people who just googled 'poetry contest' and sent us their haiku collection.  We rejected those instantly.  Then there were a bunch of idiots who imitated our last book, and we're flattered but no thanks. There were a dozen  competent poets who deserve to have their book published someday, just not with us.  Finally there were four or five truly good books that we liked a lot, but we could only pick ____."  This also keeps the publisher from ignoring and auto-rejecting books.  They have to engage a lot of the work in some way.

I'd enter this contest.  Someone start this contest.

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