In perusing the (very helpful) comments on my Baker's Dozen survey, I noticed a few repeated themes. This is good, because repeated themes help me to identify problems and strengths as I plan for next year's auction.
Yes. I think another auction is a given.
*pause for cheering*
However, one of the repeated themes isn't something I can't change, so I thought it would be a good idea to address it.
Paraphrased: "There were too many fantasies." "I wanted to see more women's fiction/historical/fill-in-the-blank." "Way too much YA." "The genres weren't evenly distributed."
Okay. I've got to say this tenderly. When one is faced with a finite pool of submissions, one must choose THE STRONGEST of the bunch. As you all know. And if there happen to be stronger entries in some genres than others, the slush-readers don't have any control over that.
Here's an example (totally made up): Let's say there's one more slot left in the MG/YA section. We've already got lots of SFF and YA, and it surely would be nice to add an MG historical to the mix. As luck would have it, one of the three remaining entries is a MG historical! The other two are both YA urban fantasies.
So we read the MG historical with bated breath. And...it's not strong. REALLY not strong. Not query-ready. Probably needs a good overhaul before it hits the eyeballs of agentkind.
We mark it as a "maybe" because the logline is decent, and because we know we've got to fill the final slot. Then we move on and read the YA urban fantasies. And one of them is STRONG! So we choose it.
In this situation, there is no way we would choose the MG historical just to "make the numbers more even."
So unless we ran a separate submission window for EVERY SINGLE GENRE, there is no way to control how many of each genre and subgenre make it through the final curtain.
And, folks? There is no way I'm running separate submission windows for every genre. That's in the realm of ludicrous.
So splitting it into two categories--adult and children's--is the best I can do. And my decision to take more children's than adult's was made after analyzing the tastes of our participating agents. Frankly, there was a lot more MG and YA listed on their websites. We have to go with what the agents want.
Who knows? Next year we might end up with exactly the opposite--more adult and less kidlit. It's all about the agents. Happy agents come back to participate in future contests, yes?
Anyway, I hope that helps you understand why you saw what might've seemed like disparate representations of genres. Jodi and I weren't paying attention to genre. We were paying attention to writing.
And that's what agents are paying attention to. Writing.
So write on!
Oh, and one more thing. A few of you lamented that you wished you'd been given a reason for your rejection. For as frustrating as that is, I just can't email reasons to everyone whose work doesn't make the final cut. The writing either worked for us, or it didn't. It either felt "ready" or it didn't. It's totally subjective, yes. And Jodi and I REALLY clicked as a slush-reading team. To a scary extent, even.
There isn't a single entry over which we argued. Not even in jest.
And? I deleted the rejected entries after we made our final decisions. Reading slush took A LOT OF TIME. Sending reasons for rejections wasn't something we could add to that.
You'll hear the same thing from agents. So you'll have to be ready for that. For the Reasonless Noes.
I can tell you this: It was never because I don't love you. *smile*
So to ALL OF YOU who entered: THANK YOU. To all of you who filled out the survey: THANK YOU.
The whole experience blew me away. It's absolutely worth repeating.