Even though the fifth year of WRiTE CLUB was the wooden anniversary, there was no dead wood here. Our first time partnering with the DFW Writers Conference was a successful one! One hundred and seventy-one entries were received, exceeding 2014’s record and continuing to stress-out our preliminary judges. We tweaked the format slightly, increased the number of contestants, shortened the time-span down to ten weeks, added some amazing prizes, and thanks to DFW…pushed WRiTE CLUB out of the shadows and into the spotlight.
However, the year wasn’t without its disappointments. In 2014, over the course of the contest there were 1,695 votes/comments, which averaged out to 45.4 votes per bout. This year, despite all of the changes I mentioned above, we only pulled in 1,470 total votes/comments, averaging just 35.8 per bout. I’m at a loss to explain the drop in participation. I worked harder this year than ever to get the word out, but obviously it didn’t work. I guess it just illustrates what I've always been saying...this contest only works if readers like you help spread me the word. I'm open to any and all idea's about how to do that next year.
The silver lining was that the level of competition continued to amaze, the lower numbers doing nothing to diminish that.
There was something else that disappointed me this year, and that was the problem we had with irregular voting. The fact that we allowed anonymous votes (which was added to satisfy a request for change) exacerbated the situation. WRiTE CLUB rules are clear. #2 - no solicitation of votes. I have preached since day one that WRiTE CLUB is not a popularity contest, which is one of the reasons for pen names, so taking to the internet airwaves to ask for votes is not allowed. Ask people to vote - YES, ask them to vote a certain way - NO. I had to vary from the scheduled time-table to address the issue, but it should have never happened in the first place. Needless to say, that’s the first change to be installed for 2016 – no anonymous votes.
What other changes am I considering? I’m always striving to make WRiTE CLUB the best that it can be. And what is that exactly? First and foremost, WRiTE CLUB is an avenue for aspiring writers to gain feedback about their work in a fun and exhilarating way. To accomplish that I’m constantly tweaking the format to allow the maximum number of participants and keep it fresh and invigorating. For 2016, first change I’ll make is to add back the SAVE feature. This allowed voters to save a writer from elimination in the preliminary bouts (imagine going up against Commando Grace your first time out). Secondly, I’ll try and do a better job of explaining how to submit an entry, so my wife doesn’t have to work so hard. Third, speaking of entries – the number of entries you’ll be allowed to submit will be reduced to only two. Finally, you’ll probably see more cage matches featuring more than two combatants at a time.
The DFW Writers Workshop, who hold the DFW Writers conference, has already set the dates for their 2016 conference. It’s going to be April 23-24 at the Fort Worth Convention Center and they have an AMAZING early-bird rate right now that is only good until August 18th. You need to seriously consider this conference for 2016…for no other reason that I will be there and we can hang together. :) That also means WRiTE CLUB will start accepting entries in January for a targeted February 15th start date – so start working on those submissions!
As I close things out this year, as I do every year, I'm asking for feedback. What did you like? Not like? What would you like to see improved?
Hope to see you again next year!