I received my Golden Heart scores the other day. This is the contest RWA holds for unpublished authors. Five judges read roughly the first fifty pages and gives it a score 9 to 1. They're encouraged to use decimals. The RWA pulls the scores for the manuscript and averages it using a formula. The formula is a little crazy but whatever.
As you've guessed--as I would've been shouting it from the rooftops--I didn't finaled. In fact the manuscript is one from last year I'd received a high average and had revised to the nth degree and reentered. It averaged less. Yeah, I know, contests are crapshoots.
Today, I pulled all my GH scores on my other manuscripts and I actually had another one to score higher. I didn't even realized it. On my contest grid (yes, I'm that geeky) I had mistyped the average. To me, it's so odd. The old manuscript compared to this newer and revised one isn't in the same class. I know my writing has improved. A lot.
Okay, I'm going to say something that will sound like sour grapes, but I really and truly believe I'm being unbiased. I've read some of the mega monster winning entries as a judge, a coordinator and a beta reader. I can tell you the majority were well written but were so vanilla I had to struggle to complete them. There were a handful I definitely saw the reason they won or finaled all the time. But most of them, no. You're probably saying, they weren't my type of books (like the ones I buy) and that's why I say that. No. Let me give you an example. I detest time travel books. Not too long ago I judged one in the historical category of another contest (not the one I coordinate) and I thought it was wonderful and scored it high. I couldn't believed I liked it so much. Will I buy time travel now? No way.
Heck, there are books by a NYT best selling author I cannot fathom why everyone loves her books. My mother loves her. I've read at the least three of her books and they were okay but nothing to get excited about. I know if she entered a contest as an unpublished author, her book(s) would be torn apart (head hopping). Oh, well, that's why there is space in the world for so many authors. What one person enjoys, the other doesn't.