However, having had two friends who entered Presents chapters, I understand why people are upset about it.
So, I'm not going into the right or wrong or fair or unfair. What I will go into is this: You don't need the contest.
The contest has given the winners an amazing opportunity to bypass the slush pile, which will save lots of time, trust me. But, as someone who didn't do well in comps (to put it mildly) and who made it through slush to The Call, I can tell you, it happens. Just because you don't place in a comp or get good comp feedback does not mean you don't have talent.
People have said on ihearts that the winners of the Presents category didn't NEED the contest. Well, no one NEEDS it. Not in any way minimizing what was won here, because trust me, getting an editor to work with you is huge. HUGE.
I got mine through slush. I needed more time to refine some things, but the editor saw the potential, even if it wasn't all the way there yet. She helped me get there.
I emailed my editor to ask her if I could enter this contest because when it was announced I was not under contract, neither did I really think I would be any time soon, and she told me that I didn't need the prize since I had an editor already. That made my week...month...let me tell you.
Success comes from these competitions, look at Lucy King and Lynn Raye Harris, and very soon, Gill Clegg :-). But success also comes from other places. This isn't the end. For me, a 'failed' contest was the beginning.
Keep writing, friends. And submit, submit, submit.