I admit it—I've been really lucky with the contests I've entered. Even when I haven't finaled, I've usually gotten really good feedback all around. So I was a little flummoxed yesterday when I got the scores back from a contest I'd placed third in. Most of the judges' sheets were great, but I got one, from an agent, that blew my mind. Forget the abysmally low scoring all around—I can take that if the agent thought I merited such scores, even if no one else (including the editor judge) was nearly as harsh.
But a one (i.e. "poor") on manuscript presentation? I got fives from everyone else, which makes me wonder if the contest coordinator accidentally sent this agent judge a rag-eared copy stained with cat pee or something. Because how else could you possibly merit a one in manuscript presentation????
I've been submitting to contests for three years now, and submitting to editors for the same amount of time, and I consistently get top marks for manuscript prep, so this is just confounding.
(Just kidding about the contest coordinator sending a pee-stained entry, of course. I was actually very pleased overall by the contest. Just a bit confused by the one, that's all).
On the upside, got my scores from another contest in the mail today, and all the remarks were consistently fair and constructive—at least, the ones my mom read me over the phone. I look forward to getting home and reading the full critique from Shirley Hailstock, whose work I admire a lot. I'll be interested to see what she has to say.