Because the answer is long and this is a question/concern a few of you have probably had as well, we're addressing it in a separate post. Here was the question:
"As far as moving the contestants on into the second round, each judge is going to pick the best hook they got, and you'll judge from there, correct?"
Concern: "Couldn't it be a little unfair? Since you are assigning the hooks randomly, theoretically, one judge could receive a bunch of crappy hooks and another could get a number of great ones. They'd end up moving one hook into the second round. Wouldn't giving several candidates and then deciding between all the candidates from all the judges be a more objective way?"
Answer: First all judges have the autonomy, if there happens to be more than one truly great hook in their batch, to set two aside. This is for just that circumstance of another judge having a batch of hooks that he/she doesn't feel contains any "good" hooks. Secondly - and more importantly, however - the simple truth is this: not every good hook will get chosen for the Pages round.
It boils down to math - there are 250 entries, and only 16 will be selected to go to the pages round. That's just a little over 6% of all hooks. So 94% of the hooks won't advance to the next round in the contest. That's a large percentage, and it doesn't mean that all 94% of those hooks weren't any good. It means there's a limited number of slots available and some "good" hooks might not make it. This is much like what happens in an agent slush pile - is every query rejected a 'bad' query? No, it means an agent has a limited number time in which to read requested material and therefore can't request everything that shows promise. Same with an editor. Does every manuscript that gets rejected for publication mean it wasn't good? No, it means there are a limited number of books a publishing house can buy each year/quarter/ whatever and therefore several quality manuscripts will get declined.
Is this fair? No, not really, but there you have it. We segregated the hooks in batches to our judges. They are the pick the best of them and - previous exception mentioned aside - that means that out of those batches, all but one won't make the cut. We don't have time to hold several rounds of hook critiques by having the judges critt their initial group of hooks, then pick out every "good" hook, put them in a pile, and then do another mass critique of all the other judges' good hooks in another round to determine who gets to go to the Pages round. Perhaps that would be a more 'fair' method, but we're doing this contest as best we can with the time constraints everyone has in their own schedules. It's not a perfect world and this isn't a perfect contest. However, it's a contest with the good intention of trying to help authors improve their hooks and we hope that will suffice.