There is a contest on WEBook.com right now* which you can pay a small fee to enter a short summary and the first page of your manuscript. The submissions are rated by WEBook members (who can also enter the contest, but are only able to rate others’ entries, not their own). The best entries are elevated up four judging levels (more of the book gets read each time), and during the process get the eye of the agents involved with the contest and potential representation.
I have not entered, but several fellow Agent Query members have, so when the first round of judging officially began, I hopped over to the WEBook website to get my feet wet as a critic. Hoping to spot my virtual friends’ entries, I read and evaluated more than thirty submissions.
I LOVED IT!!! You get to choose what genre(s) you want to read, and you can judge as many as you want. You rate each entry from 1 (bad) to 5 (great), and then you get to see how all the other peer judges rated it.
It was easy, after the first line or two, to tell if the entry wasn’t a 5, but I had to read each one all the way through to give it an accurate rating. Most of the time, I found that my opinion was right there with the majority. Some entries were awful, a lot were OK, and a few weren’t bad. None of the ones that I read stood out to me as a 5.
After reading about twenty, I found my mind wandering and I had to force myself to concentrate so that I could judge fairly. As I was doing this, it struck me that these entries were basically the same thing that agents have to deal with every day. It is easy to understand how they get to the point that they only need to read the hook before rejecting a query.
Many agents mention in their blogs that they can’t take the time to tell every author why their query or manuscript has been rejected, but I discovered while judging that if you read enough of other people’s writing, you don’t need them to.
As I was working my way through the literary fiction category, I noticed many entries that seemed to have a decent storyline, but the author had buried it in the writing. Then it occurred to me that the things that I was most critical of were what I had been vaguely bothered by in my own manuscript.
I feel an edit coming on.
* This is not an endorsement of the contest; my only connection to WEBook is that I am a member.