Judging a Book without a Cover

Having recently become a member of the Romance Writers of Australia I decided to make the most of my membership.  What a very frightening proposition this was to be as I decided to not only enter one of the competitions, but volunteer to be a judge on another.

So I merrily clicked ‘send’ on my entry to ‘Roaring Start’, and all that’s left to do on that one is keep my fingers crossed.  I believe it will be quite a few months before I hear anything so plenty of time to accrue some rejections from elsewhere in the process (teehee).

Far scarier than that, however, was putting myself forward to be a judge on another competition.  You’d think that would be easy, but for good reason it isn’t.  When you’re dealing with critiquing other people’s work you of course have to be constructive yet sensitive, which is much more difficult that it sounds.

I know all too well how horrendous it is to hear that your work doesn’t quite tick all the right boxes so in many ways I think I’m perfectly placed to deliver any sort of feedback.  However, a counter argument would be – who am I to judge when I haven’t actually managed to get anything published myself?!  Hmm, good question…

I of course have an opinion as valid as anyone else’s when it comes to being a reader, so hopefully that goes some way to answering the question.  From a personal point of view I hope that in being a judge will make me a better writer myself, as I see the positives and negatives in other people’s writing and in turn recognise the good points / faults in my own work.

I’ve discovered that been a volunteer judge is very time consuming – and comes with a strong sense of responsibility!  I’ve now read all the judges’ training material, been through several past judging sheets and done my own trial judging session.  I’m just waiting now to find out if I’ve ‘passed’.

Yet another step on this challenging journey of becoming an author – what if I don’t even get accepted as a volunteer judge, I’ve asked myself.  That really would be one knock back too far!  Probably.  Maybe not actually.  The road to being a writer may be thankless up until the point that your manuscript finally gets accepted, but it’s one hell of a lesson in how to develop the skin of a rhino!


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