In its sixth year, WRiTE CLUB continues to break its own records. One hundred thirty-six submissions from 95 contestants this year. Although the total number of entries are down - which was to be expected since we lowered the number of times a contestant could submit - the number of people who emailed us writing samples exceeded all previous years. The writing community continues to recognize the value of what we are trying to do here, and it's up to us to keep delivering on that promise!
Our Slush Pile judges are hard at work right now reading through each and every submission (66,267 words worth) and will be turning in their selections this coming Saturday. Listening to my wife talk (she likes to read some of the submissions as they roll in), we have AN EXCEPTIONAL crop of entries this year and she fears our judges will lose more than a little sleep trying to pick just 30 to compete. That might lead you to ask...why not let more than 30 duke it out in the ring? There are a lot of factors that go into that decision, but the overriding influence is previous years feedback that consistently state that the contest dragged on for too long. I'm faced with trying to find a balance between giving as many writers the opportunity to see what they're made of in the ring...and keeping the whole contest exciting and interesting so that visitors will continue to come by and vote. Not an easy nut to crack, I admit.
I'd really like to see us break another record this year...and this one is actually harder for me alone to affect. When it comes to voting, during our best year we averaged 46 votes/critiques per bout. Each year we start out really strong (we almost hit 100 votes in the first bout once), but as the contest rolls on the interest wanes and the votes dwindle - even when we move into the play-off rounds. That's the main reason why I don't announce the contestants who will be competing in the ring once the judges make their picks. I did that one year and that was our worst year for voting participation. So the 95 writers who sent in their entries must come by every bout...just like everyone else...to see if their pen name is matched up against someone else, and VOTE. This is also where I need the most help. When bouts begin on Monday, please spread the word and let everyone know what is going on over here and that there is a writer looking for some feedback. And please keep letting people know day by day and week by week until we hold one writers hand in the air. But let me caution you...DO NOT SOLICIT VOTES FOR A PARTICULAR FIGHTER! This is not a popularity contest, and turning it into such might get a contestant disqualified.
In just over 7 weeks I will meeting our 2015 winner at the DFW Conference in Dallas and announcing this years winner. I'd love to also talk about how participation went through the roof this year, but that cannot happen without your help. If not for WRiTE CLUB...then for the 30 aspiring writers whose dreams will be on display for you.