Honestly, though, I feel like the winner of my own contest: I’m the one who got to read all the submissions without knowing who wrote what, and I got to choose eleven finalists that I’d be thrilled to publish, and then I got to daydream about which one our esteemed judge might choose. And now I get to publish the winning chapbook!
421 Atlanta is a new press, so I took the fact that we got such a huge response in submissions (mostly from people I don’t know, which means numerous kind souls spread the word) — around eighty manuscripts — well, I took that trust in my fledgling press very seriously, so — with the help of Adam Robinson of Publishing Genius, who stripped names so I could select finalists anonymously, and of course Mary, who dedicated her careful concerted effort to choosing a winner within a few days of receiving the finalists chosen — we announced a winner within NINE DAYS of the contest deadline.
Before that happened, I wrote a very confusing update and sent it to all the people who entered the contest. It was meant to simply tell them where we were in the process — basically, finalists sent to Mary, decision within a week — but several people thought I was telling them they were NOT finalists, and several thought I was telling them they WERE, depending, I guess, on the rosiness of the color of their glasses. So, I do not win the prize for email clarity. But once I explained, everybody was so gracious and lovely about it. Goodwill soared.
AND THEN, even when I contacted everyone with the results — which meant, for most people, that Mary didn’t even read their manuscript (which was the whole draw for lots of people in the first place, judging by their lovely and complimentary-of-Mary’s-writing cover letters), and for the rest, except Todd, that they came close but no chapbook-cigar — even then, EVERYONE WAS STILL SO LOVELY AND GRACIOUS! Like, “let’s be friends, thanks for doing this, awesome.”
And what could be better than that?