Thursday, March 12, 2009

No Prize This Year--You Suck Too Much

Why do I try?  I don't know.  I guess where there's life, there's hope.  In this case, the editors at Graywolf decided that everyone who submitted a book of nonfiction was deemed sucky by the judge.  Myself included. No $12,000.00. No book contract.  That's always depressing.


Anonymous said...

Did you notice that this is happening quite often? Contests with record-number submissions and the judges say they are all sub-par. What are they looking for? And there is a lot of money being made here, don't forget. I think it's time to investigate. They are taking advantage of the fact that as writers we're all isolated and have no organizations working for us or pulling us together.

Anonymous said...

every time a contest or press does this, the next year they risk collecting less $$ in contest fees. declaring everyone who enters a loser is not good business sense. don't they know the basics of pr? seriously, i'm going to think twice about ever buying a greywolf press book again unless they refund everyone's contest fee.

Anonymous said...

Was there an entry fee for the Graywolf contest? If there was and it wasn't refunded, then yeah, this seems like a scam. If there was no fee, then I don't see anything wrong with not awarding the prize. It sucks for the entrants, but it's not unethical.

anonymissy said...

There's no entry fee for this contest -- so, at least in this case, there isn't "a lot of money being made here." It still sucks, though -- if you're going to have a contest, it's just not cool to say that nobody's good enough for you.

Anonymous said...

They write, "...none of the manuscripts stood out as the definitive winner," conspiracy theorist translation: we didn't find any 'names' in the slush pile, so next time you enter out contest, make sure you are a hot young thing from Iowa.

They also write, "...even the strong shortlisted titles would require substantial revision before they were ready for publication." WHAT??? Graywolf peeps, look up 'editor' in the dictionary. Have a sedative handy because you might flip out when you read what it says.

WR, you need a whole new label for this post, I suggest 'head up ass.'

Anonymous said...

I have mixed feelings about this.

On one hand, it seems absurd that a publisher should publish a book if they dont' think any of them are good. And as someone who has judged contests, I certainly believe this can be the case from time to time.

OTOH, if you are charging a fee to enter the contest it seems absurd to not award a winner. Maybe publishing a crappy book now and then is what you have to take if you are going to charge people for submissions.

Anonymous said...

I should have read the other comments.

If there was no entry fee, then nothing wrong here.

NM said...

So, to sum up:

people complain that only MFAs and such get published and nobody cares about quality anymore

a contest refuses to publish a subpar winner and that is just as bad

Well, which is it?

Graywolf Fan said...

I've read a lot of Graywolf stuff, from Per Patterson to Benjamin Percy to Percival Everett, and I love their editorial tastes.

They got skills.

So if they say that nobody is good enough, then probably nobody was good enough.

Native Ink said...

I'm not sure what's worse: a bland, noncomittal rejection slip or one that implies that your work was so bad it couldn't even rise to the top in a pool of absolute dreck.

ted said...


you're on this too much. you can't even follow the threads anymore.

word of advice, step away for a while.

send out some stories. send w/r the rejections you get.


JH said...

i agree: no entry fee, nothing wrong here.

it's not like when they do a contest, they're just waiting to say "nothing's good enough". making a statement like that, as was pointed out above, leaves a sour taste in the mouths of current entrants but also potential ones as well.

yes: it's a better PR move to just publish something. however, to say that they won't, well, that just speaks to the publishability, or lack thereof, of the entrants. nothing that was sent to them was to their tastes, or to their standards. doesn't mean what you sent was crap, but it does mean it wasn't right for them, in particular.

gimme said...

Wasn't this a "creative non-fiction" contest?

To be honest, I'm not really sure what "creative non-fiction" is, but it sounds like it might elicit some pretty bad entries...:)

Anonymous said...

How many entrants were there? If there were only 100 or so manuscripts, it's believeable that all of them could have been a mismatch with Graywolf. But 500, or 1000...the more there are, the more likely they would be enthusiastic about something. The whole thing is weird.

I suspect they knew that no matter who they picked, there was no way they could make a profit by publishing a book. But rather than admit to the entrants that Graywolf is the one who doesn't have the stuff to move books, they put it on all the writers. Frankly, I'd rather be told that the economy sucks and nobody will buy a non-fiction book by an obscure author than be told I suck.

Anonymous said...

let's invite the greywolf editors to comment on here..

Some Shelter said...


"Creative nonfiction" is nonfiction that uses the rhetorical devices of fiction (dramatization, etc.) more so than the rhetorical devices of the expository essay (information-based, etc.). That's all it means. Capote's IN COLD BLOOD, which he called a nonfiction novel, is more creative nonfiction than, say, William Manchester's THE GLORY AND THE DREAM. It's a pretty simple concept, and yet there's always a lot of hand-wringing over the term.

Nobody Knows said...


Why would they waste their time? Seriously.

Anonymous said...

"Why would they waste their time? Seriously."

do you know how many hits this site gets?