Writer’s Digest is one of the more influential magazines in the book writing industry. If you take writing seriously you already have, or should have, a subscription. What I like about Writer’s Digest is that it is one of the few in the industry that recognizes the value and legitimacy of independent (self-published) authors.
Writer’s Digest sponsors a Self-Published Book Awards competition each year. I have entered several times, as do hundreds, perhaps thousands, of other independent authors. For some incredibly strange circumstance, I have never won(!) I came a little close, I think, with my book, DEAD LETTER, which scored perfect 5’s in every category except one: the cover. I think the judge who reviewed my book took exception to the naked lady on the cover and gave it a 4, probably taking the book out of consideration.
One thing special about Writer’s Digest is that the judges in the various competitions it sponsors are required to provide the entrants with a review of their submitted work. It is always good for a writer to get professional feedback, good or bad. Sometimes I prefer the bad stuff because it gives me something upon which to improve.
My book titled, AGAIN, was my most recent entry in the Writer’s Digest competition. Earlier, AGAIN took first place honors in the 2019 Independent Book Awards. Meanwhile, it scored the least amount of points of any of my past entries in the Writer’s Digest contest–all 3’s and 4’s. That was a little discouraging, since this book was my 11th effort and one would think I might be improving by now. But what was most troubling was that I did not understand what the judge was trying to say about the book. There are one or two sentences in her review that totally baffle me. I have read them repeatedly and I still cannot figure out what the judge is saying. I admit, I am a rather plain spoken individual and when the words get too big and the thoughts too complex, my pragmatic brain has a meltdown. I call upon any of you to read a portion of the judge’s comments and if you can interpret them for me, I would be most appreciative. Just leave a comment below. Here is some of what she said (the challenging parts are highlighted in bold text):
“Before I even started reading AGAIN, the concept of the story had me hooked. There is so much potential in the idea of not time travel or strict reincarnation, but some cross between the two. Kuhn uses emotion to carry both main storylines through without tangling them together to the point that the reader is no longer following. It’s clear that he did his research on the decades he was working with, but he never got so technical that he would lose the casual reader along the way.
What I think could have been improved would be the ways in which Kuhn’s actual syntax and tone played off of one another. At times the dialogue was overly formal, while his exposition borderline simple and opaque. It made for a jarring combination in explanations of day-to-day activities, such as Richard and Patricia moving forward with their lives after Richard comes home from war, and in emotional plot points – Richard coming off the plane and being reunited with his girlfriend, for example.”
Well, so much for clarity. I sure hope one of you can ‘splain it to me. I appreciate the judge taking the time to react to my book and puttng forth what I take as constructive criticism. I will go back and check to see if there is a way of contacting her and politely ask for further explanation. In the meantime I am stilll working on my acceptance speech for when I win a Pulitzer. I just hope I am around to deliver it.