I'm a fan of writing contests. I've run more than a few here on this blog. When you enter a contest, make sure you check the rules VERY carefully.
Here's a contest that you should avoid like the plague.
UPDATE: this page now goes to a 404 link--in other words, it's dead. As John Scalzi reasonably points out, if this means the publisher is responding to the concerns of writers, great. If not, well, google cache knows all. And I saved a PDF of it too, just cause I wondered if this would happen.
Take a look at clause 13:
All submissions become sole property of Sponsor and will not be acknowledged or returned.
That means they own your intellectual property. Publishers never own your book, magazines never own your stories. They license the use of it. They pay you to print the book for a certain amount of time.
By submitting an entry, all entrants grant Sponsor the absolute and unconditional right and authority to copy, edit, publish, promote, broadcast, or otherwise use, in whole or in part, their entries, in perpetuity, in any manner without further permission, notice or compensation.
In other words they can take your work and do anything they want with it. Including make a movie. And pay you NOTHING.
Entries that contain copyrighted material must include a release from the copyright holder.
Your work has copyright protection as soon as you create it. That means you send them a release to allow them to use your work forever, and never pay you.
What I like best here is there's a fee to enter. So you pay them to own your work. I'm not sure whether to laugh or cry. Oh wait, I know what to do: don't enter.
Be smart. Read the rules.
oh this just gets better and better!
A comment in the comment trail:
While I appreciate your comments. And I understand your vested interest in this business because if we're successful, we eliminate the need for literary agents, the contest hasn't launched yet.
So to post our rules and a link telling people that this is a contest to avoid is both self-serving and misleading. Are there issues with the rules, yes. But I think you should wait until the contest officially launches on Feb. 11, 2011, before you tell people to not join it. That's the fair thing to do.
Could I, a 20-year veteran in publishing as a writer and publisher, afford to put out a contest that rips people off? I'm not desperate. The goal is to truly find the next great author, something not too many people are actually looking for. What's been your success track record?
PS: I sleep extremely well every night because I operate in truth.
This just cracks me up. It's misleading to point out the rules of the contest? Unfair to point out the rules of a contest BEFORE a writer pays to enter? I need that one explained to me. Simple words please.
This isn't about me being an agent, or you being a "20 year veteran of the publishing industry."
I don't care what your motives are, who you are, or what you've done or not done. What I care about is that you are inveigling writers to send you their work, with a check, and then claiming ownership of it. No publishing company operates like that. No reputable magazine operates like this.
Generally speaking when we use the phrase "I'll pay you to take it off my hands" it's understood we're talking about junk. If you can produce the name, address, email, or surveillance photo of a single solitary writer who thinks what they write is junk I'll be damn surprised.
PS And of course I'm not looking for the next great writers. I already represent them.