What does a county fair wine judging competition have to do with writing?

I had the pleasure of participating in my first official wine judging competition (my local county fair–one of the best in the nation and the biggest county fair in the great state of Minnesota!) where prizes (ribbons) were awarded. It was a lot of fun, interesting too, and I  learned something about personal taste, quality, and perceived quality of wine.

I was a bit dismayed that the Grand Champion wine only won because a team of two judges happened to give it the highest combined score of any wine. That only means that those two judges thought it was closer to perfect than any other pair of judges who rated the wines they tasted. I raved about one wine, gave it 95 points on the scoring scale we used, my partner gave it 91 points but it wasn’t a high enough score. I tasted the winner, and while it was delicious, it was a completely different style and type of wine, and I still liked my fave wine better than the winners.

The takeaway for writers is that your work might be excellent, superlative even, but depending on who’s judging your product (an agent), they may not like it as well as something else. The solution: enter your wine in more county fairs (query more agents about your manuscript). Sooner or later, if the wine (book) is really good, someone will judge it to be a winner (agent will offer representation).

To what style of wine has your writing been compared? :-)

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