Thank You, Judge 20!

Through a letter from Jessica Strawser, Editor of Writer’s Digest, I was informed that I was not among the winners of the 17th Annual Writer’s Digest International Self-Published Book Awards.

However, attached with the rejection letter was the evaluation of my book, which I have decided to post…
On a scale of 1 to 5,  with 1 meaning “poor” and 5 meaning “excellent,” please evaluate the following:

Plot: 5,  Grammer: 5,  Character development: 5,  Cover Design: 4

Judge’s Commentary:
What did you like best about this book?

High School Asylum is one of the best written and most original of all the novels I’ve read for this competition—emphasis on original.  I’ve read some good stories and some beautiful stories for this competition, but this is the most original.  Reality is always uncertain in this novel as it is in real life, and no more tenuous is reality than at a high school.  The narrative voice is marvelously engaging and likeable: “Even though I don’t have any real friends other than Jenny, I knew many personal details about other people that only a true friend could know.  So what if Teresa wanted to be Cinderella when we would play war. How could I forget that she always wanted Billy to save her from some fire-breathing Cyclops that sprung from her imagination?  The fantasy was always different, and so were the three of us back then.”  Wonderful dialogue.  Beautiful descriptive details.

How can the author improve this book?

I’m not sure what I want, but it seems the cover could be more attractive and evocative.  In a way, the cartoonish figure on the front of the novel is consistent with certain themes, but certainly all the characters have far more depth than any cartoon.  I’d maybe like to see the image of the “silver moon swelled like a glowing beach ball” on the cover.  In terms of an author fulfilling his intentions, this is just about the best book in the competition—not a book for conventional tastes but a book that should find and deserves to find an appreciative audience of intelligent, broad-minded readers.

Thank You, Judge 20!

36 Responses to “Thank You, Judge 20!”

  1. Sounds like you really liked this book.

  2. I liked writing it 😉


    I love books,
    Glad to see your book review,
    Happy Friday!

    you got the perfect poet award week 11,
    happy poet award for your active participation,
    thank you for the contribution!

  4. Jingle, thanks 🙂 How cool! Poetry award!!! I’m feeling much better already 🙂 Always glad to participate when I can. Lots of great posts this week. Congrats to all!

  5. The title is an attention grabber, though I’m not crazy about scary, it sounds scary and appealing.

  6. moondustwriter Says:

    I vote that you are a 10!!!!!
    You are the perfect poet and friend
    we love ya

  7. Leslie, heartfelt thanks. Have a wonderful weekend!!!

  8. You might not have won the competition, but with a critique like that it sounds like you’re a winner to me! Congrats!

  9. Thanks, Suzicate 🙂 I feel good about the critique.

  10. Hi Adam, I hope you are feeling GREAT now ! Thats a wonderful review ! Congratulations !

  11. One opinion. One observation. Points to consider. Market at a variety. Take the information as a learning tool. Move ahead. Your book is a reflection on your world. If you are satisfied, that is all that really matters. 🙂

    • You are right, D. That’s something I might say to a friend if the situation were reversed. I’m just grateful that people are reading my work, which I am now comfortable to admit to writing. lol 🙂

  12. ***I just wanted to say that the cover is one of my favorite pieces of art. Keven Lupien illustrated it perfectly. The kids who’ve read the book all seem to think the cover is incredible. Personally, I enjoy Keven’s work so much that I put him on my blog roll (2pitch).

  13. Awards of this nature are rarely objective much like juried art, Right? For cover art to have been the basis of your rejection pretty much makes me sense that. The cover did not keep me from purchasing it. I hope more of your blog followers feel the same. My wish for you was to have won because it may have helped in marketing. My other wish for you is that those who read it enjoy it!

    • “My other wish for you is that those who read it enjoy it!” … Above all else, that is my wish too. You’re right about the nature of subjective reviews. That is something to always consider. I had entered this contest so long ago that I forgot I even entered it when the packet came in the mail. No worries. You are kind for giving my work a chance. Thanks, Leslie 🙂 I appreciate the support. Have a wonderful weekend!!!

  14. I would have to agree with Leslie that judging of art is hardly ever objective…Apparently they have no one on staff that could design a better cover…oh they say…”no accounting for taste”. Cheers my friend.

    • The funny thing is I was complemented on the design of the In & Out of Line cover that I created (most of it—thanks judge 5, lol) As a graphic artist, I think that cover is okay, but it’s even in the same league as Keven’s work. The Asylum cover stops people in their tracks when seen from afar, and that’s difficult to accomplish with a minimal amount design elements (my opinion). Even the spine of the book stands out from a design standpoint!

      “No accounting for taste,” thanks for the painful reminder of taxes being due, Martin! Uhg… not enough time in the day. Have a great weekend!

  15. sometimes luck does not click—as you have noted that the judge herself was not sure why she has not awarded you.

    anyway you will get far greater awards in the coming days. best of luck!

  16. Trisha, the judge noted that I fulfilled my artistic intentions—that is enough for me 🙂 Awards are nice; true respect means more. I’m looking forward to the future. Who knows what will happen? Thanks 🙂

  17. Happy Saturday!

  18. All those 5s and a 4? Sounds like a winner to me!

  19. Happy Saturday! High School Asylum means a lot to me. It was a labor of love. So was the cover, from one of the best web designers on the planet. Keven Lupien is one creative class act. I found out about him because he designed one of my favorite websites on the web, the official site for comedian Harland Williams.

    Dennis, I think you’ll like this site. One of my favorite comedians! LOL!

  20. Sarah Joyce Bryant Says:

    Wow! This is fantastic. I would make a million copies and paste my walls with them! What a wonderful way to keep the writing fires going – having someone who truly believes in your work! Maybe you didn’t win the award, but with feedback like this there is no doubt you will get your chance! Congratulations!

  21. Sarah, thank you for saying that 🙂 Hopefully all will work out for both of us. I’m rooting for you. Anything I can do, let me know.

  22. it sounds like you should have made it.
    if thats the only criticism she could make.
    the competition must have been fierce

  23. I imagine that’s not an easy decision to make. Probably lots of good stories to choose from.

  24. You’re a winner Adam.. 🙂
    In the hearts of those who love reading your writings.

  25. That means a lot to me, Noha. Thank you. I’m so very lucky in that respect 🙂 Have a great week!

  26. That is an excellent critique dustus! That competition must have been really close if that’s whats considered a negative! You keep right on trying – God loves a trier…and you will ALWAYS be a winner as far as I’m concerned 🙂

  27. I’ll always keep trying 🙂 I’m a fighter; always been. Lynda, I feel more resolve than ever to write creatively and from my heart 🙂

  28. […] Dustus is an American author of  fiction and poetry. His first novel entitled  High School Asylum, and his first poetic publication,  In & Out Of Line,  were published simultaneously at the […]

  29. […] Dustus is an American author of  fiction and poetry. His first novel entitled  High School Asylum, and his first poetic publication,  In & Out Of Line,  were published simultaneously at the […]

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