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Phone Didn’t Ring Tuesday? We’ve Got Consolation (Prizes and Chocolate!!)

Nooooooooooooo!!!! How did this happen? How can the universe be so MEAN and STUPID and UNFAIR???!!

Your book is so, so good, and everyone who’s read it loves it…and you worked so hard to get it that way! It had “RWA Nomination” written all freakin’ OVER it.

But the phone didn’t ring on Tuesday. (Okay, it rang, but  it was your kid’s orthodontist reminding you of that afternoon appointment. Thanks, Dr. Ramirez. Yes, I’m reminding her to floss.)

!@%#*&!!!!!!

Well. we’re here for you today with shoulders to cry on and free rein to rant and rave and cry and scream and curse and do whatever else you have to do to let it allllll out, baby!

(If Chumbawumba’s “I Get Knocked Down, and I Get Up Again” would help, click here.)

We’ve also got chocolate and other awesome prizes because we know how bummed out you are, and we love you.

We’re also here to remind you of what a crapshoot the Golden Heart and RITA nominations can be.

Out of more than a thousand manuscripts entered in the Golden Heart, only 10% can final. With the RITAs, it’s 4%. FOUR PERCENT. Out of all those wonderful, blood-sweat-and-tears, micro-edited books.

If you’ve been hanging with the Rubies for awhile, you’ve heard us talk repeatedly , about how many of us have had manuscripts get stuck in the bottom quarter of Golden Heart scoring one year, then go on to final the next year—and even win. And also plenty of manuscripts final one year, then don’t get out of the bottom quarter the next. And we’ve all read RITA entries we were SURE we’d see on the finalist list…and crickets. All it takes is one judge knocking off half a point because the hero has the same name as their ex, and that stellar read is off the list.

It’s called subjectivity, and there’s no avoiding it. (Check out two-time Golden Heart winner Laurie Kellogg‘s words of wisdom on this subject here).

Remember, four of your five judges could LOVE your story, but one says “meh,” and you’re out of the finals. This is hardly a failure: in real life, having four of five readers loving your book would have you outselling Harry Potter.

And MOST published romance writers with brilliant, best-selling careers NEVER, EVER finaled in the Golden Heart at all. (Some, like Allison Brennan, even admit they tried—and failed. Yeah, that really hurt our Allison. I’m sure she still weeps over it every day.) The Golden Heart is a great launch pad—but it’s not the only one.

And just look at the list of 2017 Rita nominations. Lots of great books on there. But did you see Julia Quinn? Did you see Kristan Higgins? Eloisa James? Lisa Kleypas? Jill Shalvis? NORA freakin’ ROBERTS?

Does that mean their books this year sucked, and they should give up trying to be authors and toss their laptops out the window and take up a career in dry cleaning instead? Um, no. Of course not. Those writers and their books from last year are truly awesome. It’s just the way the voting goes sometimes.

Sing along with Gloria Gaynor: “I WILL SURVIVE!”

More than anything today, we’re here to kick your butt and say SUCK IT UP NOW, SWEETHEART, because there’s one way and one way only to have an awesome writing career! And it’s NOT the Golden Heart or RITA, or any other prize or commendation you may win. It’s BICHOK: butt in chair, hands on keyboard.

Get writing. Finish that next book. No excuses.

Do that, and you’ll get where you need to be. We’re the Rubies, and we know what we’re talking about!

Leave a comment below (as mopey or furious or self-pitying as you like, as long as you you know deep inside you’re gonna pick yourself up off that kitchen floor afterwards, splash some cold water on your face, and commit to a concrete writing goal to carry you forward). Also, you’ll be in the running for one of these spirit-lifting prizes, which we’ll be awarding to random commenters throughout the day (but let us know if you **DON’T** have an address in the U.S., since some of the physical prizes are U.S. only…if we draw your name, we’ll make sure you get one of the internationally-available prizes):

Pretty sweet, eh? Remember, we love you! Keep working, and you’re going to make it!!! We’re always here to help!

35 responses to “Phone Didn’t Ring Tuesday? We’ve Got Consolation (Prizes and Chocolate!!)”

  1. It *isn’t* fair! But… there’s always next year, right? Right. Sigh.

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  2. Cynthia Huscroft says:

    I love that little factoid about the Harry Potter books:) It’s always good to take in the big picture and it’s a great reality check! & Vicky is right, there’s always next year….

    As for Chumbawumba, that tune is an absolute favorite of mine!

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  3. Tamara Hogan says:

    –> Lots of great books on there. But did you see Julia Quinn? Did you see Kristan Higgins? Eloisa James? Lisa Kleypas? Jill Shalvis? NORA freakin’ ROBERTS?

    Right? Also missing: Sarah MacLean and Nalini Singh. (And Nora’s alter ego, J.D. Robb.)

    I can’t help but wonder why more of these perennial favorites aren’t on the RITA finalist list. Did these authors miss the entry window because the contest filled so quickly? Did they choose not to enter? As Elisa (I think?) said, there are so many factors that can lead to an awesome book not making the list, but…I can’t help but wonder whether factors not related to the writing may be at play here.

    These are interesting times for the RITA.

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    • Elisa Beatty says:

      Yup, it was me.

      It’s a real mystery why some (great) books make the cut, and equally great ones don’t.

      Not finaling shouldn’t be seen as rejection or prove you weren’t good enough…only a tiny few make it through to the finals, and that leaves many amazing books behind.

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    • Right? I’m wondering, too. If I had time, I’d sift through previous years’ data and come up with a chart showing the multi-nominees over the years. It seems so weird to not have Nora nominated in any form!

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  4. Hope Ramsay says:

    Okay, the world is way different today than it was 35 years ago. Back then, you either sold to a publisher or your work wasn’t ever seen by anyone. And I labored for a quarter century trying to make my first sale. I can’t tell you how many times I entered the Golden Heart before I actually finaled. And the book that finaled in 2009 is a book that will never be published.

    The people judging the Golden Heart first round are not editors or agents or any kind of gate keeper. They are other writers. And some of them, to be frank, are writers who have very little writing experience.

    The only opinion that matters (in this order) is 1) yours, 2) agents or editors who have the power to open a door to a publisher. The Golden Heart first round judges cannot open the door for you. And, more important, as in my case, the book the judges loved was a book that had no business being published (indie or otherwise.)

    The book that resulted in my first sale is a story that never made it out of the bottom 25% of the Golden Heart.

    I say this every year. The Golden Heart experience is wonderful, but by itself it won’t get you published. And the object is publication, not a contest win. 🙂

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    • Cynthia Huscroft says:

      Great post, Hope. You’ve helped inspire me to keep writing & keep writing.

      Thankful for my mornings with you & AJ and all of the inspiration, comments, suggestions & support:)

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    • Elisa Beatty says:

      Such wise words, Hope! Thanks for putting this out here again…can’t be said enough!

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  5. Fabulous post! I think next year I’ll make sure to tell friends and family NOT to call on that day so I don’t get my hopes up every time the phone rings.

    Yeah – it sucks. When I get upset about poor sales or silent phones, I try to remember why I write. Because I love it. I love losing myself in my stories with characters I’ve grown from a single idea into vibrant 3D people. I live for the scenes that come together and make me laugh or tear up. The worlds I create are my refuge when real life is insane. A day of writing “fills my well” so I can pour out love on the people I care about in my life. All of these reasons are why I write. Not to final. I won’t stop entering and hoping, but not getting the call will never stop me from writing. Hugs to you all! Heather

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    • Elisa Beatty says:

      That’s the truest thing of all, Heather!!

      As hard as this business can be, the JOY of writing for its own sake must be what drives us. And it truly is a reward in itself (even if a few more books sale would be a lovely side benefit!)

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  6. Abby Sharpe says:

    My phone rang lots on Tuesday. But I didn’t enter either contest, so I didn’t have any reaction other than being slightly startled each time.

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  7. This! Everything about THIS! But especially… >>SUCK IT UP NOW, SWEETHEART<<. This is a great battle cry for any writer serious about her craft to be used at any time in her career.

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  8. OMG, this is a super post. And those fun pics left me grinning. Especially the one in the kitchen, so great!

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  9. Yup…it’s crazy. You know the odds, you know the subjectivity of the contest, but you still can’t help sitting there with the phone in your lap, WILLING it to ring..LOL. But I remind myself that everyone’s writing career is different, and while I’d love to be a finalist, what I want even more is for readers to find and love my book. Of course, I also had chocolate cake, which helped.

    The way I’m bouncing back is plotting a brand new book. I love this phase so much. It’s like those first couple of dates, when everything is new and shiny and exciting:) I plan to write Chapter One tomorrow.

    Hope everyone else has also picked themselves up and brushed themselves off. Happy writing!

    P.S. I live outside of the US:)

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  10. Great article and really did take the sting out of not being a finalist. So many true facts and how this business can be so fickle. Just one question. How do you find out how you did on the Golden Heart? I didn’t think that was divulged….Thanks again for the great boost and will become a regular visitor of this page…..

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    • Elisa Beatty says:

      They send scores out to non-finalists soon, I think (you’ll get an email).

      Sadly, there are no comments from judges to give you a sense of why they gave the score they did, but at least you can see the numbers. And sometimes the spreads are very interesting…you truly can have most of the judges LOVE the book, and a couple “meh” responses tanked its chances. Again, though, three out of five readers LOVING your book? In the end, you’ll find a great audience!

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  11. Jen Gilroy says:

    As always, the Rubies give fabulous advice! Although I didn’t enter either contest this year, I still had anxiety on the day! Weird or what?! I was happy for friends who got a phone call, but sad for those who didn’t.

    However, much of the advice in this post (and the comments) applies to all phases of a writing career. The only thing we really have any control over is writing the best books we can, one word, one writing day at a time.

    Thanks, Rubies, for being there for me in times of both writing joy and consolation. Happy writing to all and BICHOK!

    (I live outside the US).

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  12. Hugs to all who didn’t make the cut. Don’t despair. You’re in good company. The contest is a crapshoot of getting the right judges for your book. If your novel is nominated, there’s no doubt it’s a good story, but if it’s not, it means NOTHING.

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  13. Leslie says:

    I didn’t get The Call….but then again I didn’t enter this year. Cheers to all of you who had the courage and optimism and perseverance to put yourselves out there, hoping for the best and knowing that by entering you’re already winning the most important prize.
    Thanks for the inspiration. I think I’m ready to be a “winner” too.

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    • Elisa Beatty says:

      Absolutely–everybody who tossed their hat into the GH or RITA ring deserves kudos for just GETTING IT OUT THERE!! That’s a trait that’s 1000% necessary for making it in this business!

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  14. Rayn Ellis says:

    Fantastic post Rubies! And a soothing balm for those that didn’t make the cut this year. I finalled last year, the very first time I entered with my very first book, and with the exact same book, and I mean exact same book, not even a single copy edit, I didn’t make the cut this year.

    After a good mini pout, I remembered that I write because I can’t not. It’s in my blood; it’s who I am. If I remember to start there, I don’t get distracted with the glitter that goes around the writing. The contests, the conferences, the finals & wins, even the publishing… They are glorious gifts when they come, to be enjoyed and cherished, then let go of so that I can, as a writer, continue to move forward, grow, create, explore.

    And, there is always next year, and the one after that, and the one after that, because I will never ever stop writing. :):)

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    • Rayn Ellis says:

      PS I don’t live in the US.

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    • Elisa Beatty says:

      Yes–nothing, nothing, nothing can ever stop us from writing!!

      And your Mermaid sisters can never be taken away, either!!

      I’m pretty sure the book I finaled and won with in 2012 didn’t make the cut in 2011. There’s an element of randomness in the whole thing. Just don’t give up, and the good stuff will come around again.

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      • Rayn Ellis says:

        The more finalists I talk to, the more I hear the same story…”the book I finalled with or won with, never made it the year before.” Keeps us all guessing! Lol!

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  15. Marin McGinnis says:

    I will admit I was pretty down on the RITAs on Tuesday, especially since the lack of a phone call came on the heels of a “sorry, your characters didn’t wow me and your hero isn’t heroic” rejection from an agent. Ouch. Wallowed a bit, but today I’m hard at work on plotting the next book. Which probably won’t win the RITA either, but what the hell. 😉 Thanks for the kick in the ass, Rubies!

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  16. As much as I love the “Yippee” day, I love “Consolation” day, too. It gives us all a chance to be supportive and caring and encouraging to each other. (And the publishing world allows for far too little of that!)

    We’re all writers, whether we got a call or not. We’re all working towards publication, or the next release day, or world domination, whether we got a call or not.

    And that’s what we need to keep in mind when we’re feeling down. We’re writers. And writers write.

    We also eat chocolate, drink coffee/ alcohol/our recreational drink of choice, or some other item that soothes the pain. I suggest everyone indulges in a good dose of whatever makes you happy.

    AND KEEP WRITING!

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