A Really, Really Bad Writing Contest

There are certain contests you shouldn’t enter as a writer.  The FirstOne Publishing Contest is the latest in a string of contests I suggest you don’t enter.  It seems everyone in the world of writing and publishing is talking about the First One Publishing Contest.  I figure I can jump on the bandwagon, too.

First off: I am not a lawyer.  I don’t even play a lawyer on TV.  I am surrounded by lawyers day in and day out enough to know that I don’t want to give legal advice in any way shape of form.  This is not a legal post, but rather a “Who the heck does this person think they are fooling” post.

Rule One:  “All entries must be original works, in English. Plagiarism, which includes the use of third-party poetry, song lyrics, characters or another person’s universe, without written permission will result in disqualification.  Excessive violence or sex, determined by the judges, will result in disqualification. Entries may not have been previously published in professional media.”

Um, unless I’m wrong, and that happens from time to time, I am pretty sure plagiarism is covered by the original work statement.  I’m also thinking that the Sponsor meant “copyright infringement” which is different in a court of law than “plagiarism.”

Trust me, that’s one thing I have learned in politics.  Plagiarism is bad, but isn’t exactly punishable by law.  Copyright infringement is easy to accidently do in a story when you add something you think is in the public domain (ie, the song “Happy Birthday to You” which is still covered under copyright laws) and is completely punishable by law.

Rule Five: “All submissions must be in English…. Sponsor reserves the right, in its absolute and sole discretion, to reject any entries for any reason, including but not limited to based on sexual content, vulgarity, and/or promotion of violence.”

Pretty sure Rule One covered that topic already.  In fact this whole rule is covered by Rule One.  So, why have another rule?

Rule Seven: “FEES: There will be a $149.00 entrance fee for each submission. The fee must be paid online before the manuscript will be accepted.”

I get that each contest has fees, but this one is out of my price range.  If I had $149 lying around I would attend a writer’s conference.

Rule Eight: “Prizes Grand Prize: First One Publishing contract for terrestrial and digital publication of winning book…  First One Publishing Library (20 books valued at $240.00)…  Grand-Prize Winner must sign the publishing contract, which contains additional terms and conditions in order to be published.”

Terrestrial?  Do I get to keep extra-terrestrial rights?  I think Klingons might like my novels.  Heck, I wonder if the Romulans have publishing companies?

And I get 20 books?  Are these 20 books from your other authors?  And I have to sign a contract with you?  You won’t let me look at the contract, but you want me to sign it?  Uh, nope to all of this.

Rule Eight (continued): “Prizes 20 Second-Prize Winners will receive: A First One Publishing contract for digital publication  A complete marketing and publicity plan to promote the digital book as well as feature placement (bio, blog, etc.) on the First One Publishing website. A First One Publishing Collection (10 books valued at $120) Second-Prize Winners must sign the publishing contract, which contains additional terms and conditions in order to be published.”

So, what is the difference between first prize and second prize other than “terrestrial” publication of the book and the fact the first prize gets $5,000 for publication?

Rule Thirteen (Everyone’s Favorite Rule): “All submissions become sole property of Sponsor and will not be acknowledged or returned. 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. Entries that contain copyrighted material must include a release from the copyright holder. Prizes are nontransferable. No substitutions or cash redemptions, except by Sponsor in the event of prize unavailability. Sponsor reserves the right to its sole discretion to not publish the winning entry for any reason whatsoever.”

I give up all rights to my property by entering this contest?  Um, let me think about that.  Yeah, not gonna happen.  Thanks for the offer, though!

You should see the responses this Sponsor has given on the blogosphere.

You can find responses at the following blogs:

http://jetreidliterary.blogspot.com/2011/01/dont-enter-this-contest.html Janet Reid, aka the Shark, obviously doesn’t understand agents will not be needed when everyone has publishers that act like agents.

http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=201621 aka one of the places writers hang out on line and FirstOne Publishing’s “great” responses.

And just for a laugh, a spoof over at Evil Reads about the rules


Any of my writer friends wanna enter a contest like this?  I didn’t think so!



5 thoughts on “A Really, Really Bad Writing Contest

  1. It sounds like a get rich quick thing. Send me all your money and just in case your book will sell all the rights to it. The sad thing is how many people fall for thoses things.

    • Yeah, there will be a lot of people who fall for this. It’s really sad, but writers need to realize they have the tools at their disposal to check in to all contests like this.

  2. I’m with you, Amanda, if I had $149 I’d certainly do something more constructive with beside entering a writing contest which like that smells like something is rotten in Denmark or where ever it’s held, right? This is all phony bolonga! Good post. Keep up the good work!

    • There is something rotten. At least Twitter and the web has been hopping with people talking about this contest. Hopefully, a lot of people will read and very few will be scammed by FirstOne Publishing.

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