Public Service Announcement: Avoid this “writing contest”

January 16, 2011

I’m late to this particular party since we were traveling to Minnesota to talk to our new distributor, Consortium, and missed all the balleyhoo. There is a new publisher on the block who’s running a writing contest, and the winners get a  publishing contract. What makes my head slingshot is the $149 entrance fee. Her explanation for the fee is “to eliminate anyone who thinks they want to be published from entering.”


Blink blink.

She goes on to say that she is a “major publisher” by the merits that she plans on publishing 5-10 books/month. Heck, Publish America “publishes” tons more than that a month, and they’re as far from a “major publisher”as it gets (if one considers the term “major publisher” as being a legit, trade press with real distribution).

Rather than rehash all the points of why this is an idiotic idea, I recommend the AW thread and Janet Reid’s blog where you can read about this abomination. Please. Protect yourself. This is NOT the way REAL publishing works.

Singing the book contest cantata

March 18, 2009

Sung to Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim’s “I Feel Pretty” from West Side Story:

I’m a winner
A contest winner
And my book has a look that can’t be denied
And I think you
Should publish me because I’m that great

Ah, and how many of these contest winners flood the query letters that cross my desk? The beagle has lost count. The truth of the matter is that there are as many contests as there are designer chewie bones lining the beagle’s feather bed, and many of them offer nothing more than a nice padding of someone’s bank account.

The thing to consider before you enter a contest is what does winning do for you other than make you feel good? Is this a contest so well known that news of your triumph will capture the attention of an agent or publisher? Then there is the question of legitimacy. The same authors who are over-eager to be published are vulnerable to entering a bogus contest, and the only thing they may earn is a lighter wallet.

Be wary that some of these contests promise the winners will be a part of an anthology or a collection. is renowned for this and nearly every entrant is a “winner,” and in fact, there is an excellent post by Writer Beware about this very issue.

Before you decide to enter your sample chapters or your full  manuscript into a contest, ask around. Be sure that the contest is legit because many of them have absolutely no value to me when I’m reading your query letter, so it’s useless to mention it. I do know about the biggie contests and will nod my head in respect if you’re a winner of one of those because they have great bragging rights.

I can’t begin to keep up with the many contests out there, but the Water Cooler does a pretty good job of keeping up on what’s what.  Another good post is here on Writer Beware blogs. Victoria Strauss is just achingly talented and infinitely brilliant – and is a lovely participant in the Tackle Box book – so everyone should bookmark her.

So before you go singing your winner cantata to me in your query letter, please be sure that the contest wasn’t anything more than a good old-fashioned ego stroke, ‘cos it won’t ping my Wow Radar.

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