Just a bit of ‘net etiquette when it comes to judging unpublished manuscripts or published books in contests…
If you agree to judge a writing contest, please hold off on announcing which manuscript or book you’ve judged via a review or rating or comment at any of the tons of sites and social networks out there until AFTER the finalists have been announced. Judging packets usually include an indication of when the finalists will be notified and many judging packets (indeed most of the packets for contests I’ve judged) explicitly state not to discuss scores in the preliminary rounds. This is certainly a huge stipulation in the RITAs, RWA’s annual contest for published novels. And it’s the case in pretty much every RWA chapter contest in which I’ve participated as a judge.
Please note that I don’t have an issue with reviews, and I don’t have an issue with ratings. When it comes to published books, I don’t even have an issue with reviews or ratings that are posted before contest finalists are announced. After all, in order for the author to enter a contest for published novels, the novel has to have been published already, and whoever has read it certainly has the right to make their opinions about the book known.
However, when a judge points out that they judged the book in a particular contest and that contest is still on-going…it kind of takes the fun and anticipation out of the contest for the author.
Okay, so we don’t really enter writing contests for fun. We enter them to get judged—and hopefully make the finals. Judging occurs during the contest, and it can certainly occur on a public forum in the form of a review or rating. Just please make sure not to say where and why you read the book if contest finalists have not been announced.
And that’s my PSA for today!