I did not make the Semi-Finals in the Amazon contest, but after the review from my PW reviewer, I didn't expect to. I read three or four (of the five) who made it through to the Semi-Finals in romance, but I didn't leave a review for any of them ... so that tells me they were not books I would be interested in reading. Even if the novel seemed to be extremely predictable, if the writing was good, I left a review. I didn't leave reviews on the ones that were boring, poorly written, or that had plots that were (in my opinion) just plain ridiculous.
I tried to leave only reviews that were positive. If I had nothing positive to say, I didn't leave a review ... with two exceptions ... and those two were so offensive I felt obligated to leave bad reviews. They were not just offensive, but darkly, deeply disturbing. The love interests in one was a child and her pedophile molester. Am I to assume we are supposed to hope the pedophile "gets the girl"? The other was one writer's attempt at "Fifty-Shades-of-Grey-Mommy-Porn", and fell far short. It was really just expletive-ridden, vulgar language by promiscuous women who were rather mean. I didn't like them, so I didn't really care if they found love or not ... and I kind of hoped they wouldn't! Even so, I was kind when I left reviews for them. I don't see any point in being cruel or hateful, even if I was repulsed by their stories.
None of those I enjoyed and rated highly made the Semi-Finals. I hope those writer's understand that the PW reviewer who judged their entry (most likely quite harshly) isn't necessarily their target audience ... I am ... and I liked their work. The PW reviewer read their romance novel because they were paid to, not because they have any expertise in, or the desire to read, that genre.
I am disappointed that I was eliminated, but not as much as I thought I would be. According to one PW reviewer (per his blog), Publisher's Weekly hired reviewers on a contract basis to judge the entries. This judge did not mention that they were given entries in their preferred genre. I've said it before and I'll say it again ... you cannot accurately judge a book properly if it is a genre you do not enjoy. If you were to give me the Twilight manuscripts, I wouldn't be able to give them bad reviews fast enough. I do not enjoy paranormal romance ... at all ... and I will be the first one to tell you not to ask my opinion on one, because I already know you won't like what I would have to say. Don't give me horror, either, because I'd rather read paranormal/fantasy than something like that! I cannot accurately judge those types of work because I do not read them, do not enjoy them, and have no way of knowing if I'm reading a plot that's been done ad nauseam.
My review was written in a way that leads me to believe the reviewer does not enjoy reading romance. While not overtly hateful, it was definitely mean-spirited, and got a few key facts very wrong. They either did not read the book (skimming rather than reading), or I did a very poor job of getting my message across. Since this person seems to be the only one who came away confused on basic facts, it doesn't appear they read very carefully. I realize not everyone will like it, even those who enjoy romance, but this reviewer almost seemed angry that he/she had to read "another romance novel".
Although I wanted to win (of course!), I honestly never expected I would. More than anything, I wanted to make it to the Quarter-Finals (and I did!) for one reason ... to get a PW review that I could use when querying an agent. Well, I got my review, but I don't think I can twist it enough to make it usable.
Okay, enough grumbling! It's time to look on the bright side ... now that I'm no longer in this contest, my manuscript if freed up and I can concentrate on finding an agent and getting published. Not winning did not dampen my spirit, and I still believe I will be successful and that my dream will be attained. As long as I have tomorrow, my dream will live on :)