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Sunday, January 16, 2011

Psst! Wanna Buy A Bridge?

Although I know a few writers that write for their own enjoyment only, most of the writers I know want to be published. Sometimes it happens quick, and sometimes it seems to take forever. Sometimes it takes so long that becoming published becomes this "white whale," this end-all-be-all-divine-light-will-be-shining-down-from-the-heavens-chorus-of-angels moment that they'll give their left nut for (or boob, as the case may be).

There are a lot of people out there just itching to take advantage of that--but they don't want your body parts, they want  your cash. And because some writers are so desperate to see the dream fulfilled, they fall prey.

And here's a new contest that raises lots of red flags. You can read Suricattus's breakdown of the problematic clauses here:
http://suricattus.livejournal.com/1342214.html

She does a great job of shining a light on the problems.

But clause #13 might have even deeper implications. They own all submissions, in perpetuity . . . OWN them (and without having to pay you for them). I'm not 100% sure on the legality of it, but it really sounds like they could take all the best submissions, put THEIR name on them, and resubmit them to paying markets and collect more cash. Or maybe they can't go that far--perhaps copyright would still apply, and they'd have to keep your name on them; but they could still sub them other places and not have to share the cash with you.

So you send them big bucks, they own all submissions, and they don't even have to pay any money out. Wow. Sounds like a good deal (for them).

It reminds me of another vanity publisher that's out there. Most writers already know to stay away from it, but my local paper did a spotlight feature on a local author who had published through the vanity publisher. The article was all about how terrific it was to finally be published and how self-validating it was, and glossed over the fact that the author had spent $25K on books she now had to sell all on her own. The article mentioned the vanity publisher's name at least half-a-dozen times (nothing like encouraging other writers to sign up to be taken advantage of). I wish the local paper had done their homework before they wrote an article portraying the publisher in such a golden light!

So watch your back, fellow scribe, and read the fine print carefully.

UPDATE: I drafted this post on Friday night. Since then, the contest company has posted a response and "clarification" on the Absolute Write forum:
http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=201621

AND, Agent Janet Reid has posted a warning about it:
http://jetreidliterary.blogspot.com/2011/01/dont-enter-this-contest.html

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