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Old 04-25-2007, 10:51 AM   #1
Mandy-Jane
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Do I owe them an explanation or not?

Hi again,

I'm currently judging a One-Act Playwriting Competition. It's only a very small comp - we've had 9 entries so far, and only expect a few more. The original conditions of the competition stated that the winner would be notified; nothing about unsuccessful entries. Now I know I'm not compelled to personally reply to everyone who entered, but seeing as there aren't too many entries, I tend to feel that it would be nice to send back a brief note explaning why their entry was unsuccessful. My question is this: Do you think this is a good idea? Or do you think it would create a precedent that I'd have to continue in subsequent years?

I just feel that if people have gone to the effort of putting a piece together, they deserve some kind of feedback. Do you agree, or am I just being too soft?
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Old 04-25-2007, 11:20 AM   #2
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Whether or not you let them know why the didn't win is up to you. I think it is only courteous to at least send them a form letter, regardless of the number of submissions received, letting them know they didn't place.

If you provide feedback, and word spreads that you did so, it may help you increase the number of entries you receive in the future.
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Old 04-25-2007, 02:56 PM   #3
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I agree with Birol, but I'd definitely recommend a form that doesn't go into specifics of why they didn't win. We all know how we feel about agents and publishers who don't even send out a form courtesy "no thank you" (not very charitable towards them). My two cents. Puma
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Old 04-25-2007, 05:48 PM   #4
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Form letter. It's courteous to let entrants know that they didn't place, but I wouldn't give individual feedback. They would expect it everytime and complain in the future if you did not continue.
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Old 04-25-2007, 06:27 PM   #5
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I've been sending out rejections periodically for about six months now. I know there have been some people who have received a personalized rejection one reading period and a form letter the next. So far, I haven't had anyone come back and say, "But why?" I've had a few people respond to the personalized rejections, but never in a mean or nasty way. Typically, it takes the form of "thank you" with perhaps a follow-up question, which I'm happy to respond to if I can.

Whether or not I send out a form rejection or a personalized rejection is dependent on two things: 1) Is there anything I could say in a personalized rejection? Every story is not rejected for a reason that is unique to that story. There's not something to say about every rejection and 2) Do I have time?

Surprisingly enough, the first reason factors into it far more often than the second.

I'm only mentioning this because of the future complaint-factor that has been brought up. So far, in my limited personal experiences, I haven't found this to be an issue. So far, people have been courteous and mostly respectful.

When it comes to sending out notices -- form or otherwise -- what you have to ask yourself is what would you want if you were in their shoes and how feasible is it for you to provide that?
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Old 04-25-2007, 06:28 PM   #6
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Stephen King said when he was a boy (I think 13) he made his first-ever submission to a magazine and got his first-ever rejection from them in about a month. The rejection was, (of course) an impersonal form letter. But the person who reviewed his submission evidently could see a small spark of potential genius in this boy's writing, and he/she took the time to write a hand-written notation to King at the bottom of the form letter. The notation read "Second Draft = First Darft minus 10%." Whoever this person was, he never even signed his name. So that notation was NOT an "offocial" communitcation, just a subtle whisper. Stephen King says to this day he always follows that 10% formula.

If you see someone with potential, I see nothing wrong with these small and unofficial notations or small hand-written notes--even if written on yellow Post-It notes. It's best to stick with the pre-stated guidelines of the contest. But these little and even anonymous comments are (I think) valuable and cool indulgences to engage in to help other writers. And I think THAT kind of a person is probably the best sort to have in the position of judge in one of these contests.
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Old 04-26-2007, 01:35 AM   #7
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I sent about 50 rejections in the past month. I've had several 'but whys' and a few 'I have been told I'm wonderfuls' and even an irate response detailing why I am making a big mistake not accepting a person's work. I've had lists of university credits and reviews sent to me. This is a contest we are talking about here. A rejection isn't even needed. Just contact the winner. Period. There are crazy ass people out there.
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Old 04-26-2007, 02:01 AM   #8
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If it's a contest, one should either acknowledge receipt of the entry or send some kind of form notification to everyone who entered.

They have a right to know that their entry was received and judged.

Then one should send out in newsletter or web response who the winner is and a blanket "Thank you" for everyone who participated.

That takes care of the proprieties. Other than that send whatever is polite and meaningful as separate material.

Regards,
Scott
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Old 04-26-2007, 07:59 AM   #9
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Thanks everyone.
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