Dream big...I need the money

What is your opinion of this competion and its "prize?"

well, let's look.

The prize is a trip to NYC (yay!) and a meeting with four editors or agents.
Oh, and you'll get a publishing package from a ...wait, wait, wait..Outskirts Press?
Wtf? Who are they? Oh...uh huh. POD on a stick. Yummy.

But I don't get this: why are you meeting with editors and agents if your work will be published (and thus unavailble to be published by say..the editor's house).

And which editors/agents?

They sure haven't asked me.

How much does it cost to enter?
$15 for each ms.

Ok, let's do some math.

Figure 10,000 entries (and heck, we had 100 on the crapomter in 72 hours so I know 10,000 is a reasonable number).

$150,000 gross. Less some prize money, and a trip to NYC ($30,000). That's $120,000 to open some envelopes...and do they even say send in an SASE for a response? if no, it's just open, scan, shred...man, I'm in the wrong business.

It's not quite bait and switch cause they'll probably do exactly what they say. But if you have dreams of Binky Urban or Esther Newberg taking you to lunch at Michael's and signing you to a multi book deal, you're clearly cut out to be a novelist cause you have a great imagination.

It's probably not a scam in the true sense of what a scam is: what it is, is bunk. These people will PROFIT from your closely held dream that your work is fabulous and it will be like a ray of light in the mailbag. Everyone believes that to be true of their work. EVERYONE. These people know that. They're going to turn a profit next quarter knowing that.

Will it do you any good to enter? Probably not.
Will it hurt you? Probably not?

It's like buying a $15 raffle ticket for a chance at a prize of three days in New York. Of course, when Miss Snark buys a raffle ticket, the proceeds benefit the good works of the Sisters of Perpetual Prada; here it's benefiting the profit margin of Writers Digest. Sister Snark is not amused.


Feisty said...

The publishing package must be a new deal with Writer's Digest. I placed one year in that contest and don't remember them offering a publishing package to the grand winner. But obviously, things have changed.

I'm not sure what to think of contests anymore. It's all subjective in terms of who/what wins. Lots of money goes in and little goes out. I would think it's more of a money maker than anything else.

Just like conferences for newbies.

Hope springs eternal.

Anonymous said...

The more I read about Writers Digest and the more I find out about how they are running their business, the gladder I am that I cancelled my subscription.

Feisty said...

Yeah, I agree. I cancelled a few years ago. Like I said, it reminds me of conferences that are set up for newbies. Great money makers, producers of false hope, and a lot of ra ra to pass along!!

The real work is in learning how to write and to do it well. That takes time. And then selling a book. Also takes time.

Anonymous said...

"Just like conferences for newbies."

I think this depends on how a newbie approaches a conference, for example, social wallflower or business networker. As a newbie, I pitched my now-agent at a conference. An editor I met at another conference is currently pitching my submission (via my agent) to her ed board. Maybe I'll strike conference gold twice.

Similarly, I know of writers who've found agents or their first pub contract via an RWA contest. Like anything, it depends on the conference/contest, the writer's approach and product, and the stars aligning just so.

Anonymous said...

I'm with feisty. I know a writer who won this one a few years back, and signed with one of the agents she met with, who subsequently sold several of her books boom-boom-boom. The contract part she never mentioned.

Frank Baron said...

And I heard tell of a friend of a friend of my cousin's sister-in-law who helped out a poor Nigerian fellow and got lots and lots of money and lived happily ever after.

none said...

I'm wondering what happens if any of the editors/agents of the winner's choice decline to be involved. Do they get one from their B list instead?

Anonymous said...

Frank, darling, I much appreciate *your* snark, but here's the individual's story, names included:


Feel better now? Or is Penguin Putnam and Levine Greenberg on the level with Nigerians?

Anonymous said...

If Writer's Digest really feels that their grand prize winner will be the next great author, then they wouldn't have had to add that part about a publishing package with a POD publisher.

I guess they're hedging their bets that the agents/editors they have lined up, won't like the winning writer's work.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm... Plus, entry into the contest is by short story or some other short piece of writing. How can any editor or agent know if you write well enough to sign you from that little bit?

Some people who write fabulous short stories couldn't write a novel if their life depended on it and visa versa. I really don't think a short story is any indication if someone can write a sellable novel or not.

Anonymous said...

I looked at the Outlook setup, and it's obviously
not a publishing deal but a printing deal which should do no
harm for the writer. The book
would not be printed before the
meetings with editors, etc, and
even if they were they could be
kept by the author as 'printed'
but not put onto the market.
It doesn't look too good as a contest prize, since people could easily see it as self publishing arrrggh but it's only printing - those copies could even be used sans covers for review copies, after editing was done; I'd assume there'd be no time limit to the winner taking up the offer of having the book (not published but) put into print.
I think it looks fair enough,
as a contest, apart from the 'sound' of the printing. As for money, don't know how many entries they'd get of course, that's another kettle of fish, but when people have to cough up and there's no feedback or return for non-winners great hordes tend to be less likely to batter down the gates and storm the ramparts to send in from Brataslavia, somehow. I think :-]

Anonymous said...

The more I hear about WD and their contests, the more I think the magazine is losing their reputation. Anyone know which are the best magazines for writers in general or specific?

Debra Young said...

Meg, I recommend The Writer.

Anonymous said...

Have you ever looked at WD's self-publishers contest at $100 a pop entry fee. What a business! We are all doing something wrong.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Debra.

Unknown said...

Meg, I like Poets & Writers

Feisty said...

Anonymous: Also depends on the conference. Are there agents looking for writers to sign? Are there editors who are acquiring? All depends on what is offered and by whom.

I went to a conference where the big speaker, an editor at a well-known house, got up and went on to say that she didn't need anyone to submit to her because she was a senior editor and thus did not need anyone in the audience to make her career. Her career had already been made by those more privileged that we and she didn't need our subs and basically sort of hoped that we didn't send her anything because she was really looking for a reason to reject us. It was surely one of the more heart warming moments in publishing history.

After that and a few other conference experiences, I am jaded. Sorry.

I do believe, however, that RWA does a great job at educating and helping their members. They are held in highest regard among those who conference, probably as the gold standard. I wasn't thinking about them when I posted that.

Anonymous said...


Something like that would jade me, too. I hear about those kinds of things happening at conferences, and wonder why those editors and agents attend. You'd think any agent or editor at a conference would be there because they're open to submissions and take pleasure in educating new writers.

Unknown said...

I think the bit about the POD thing is new within just the last couple years. Someone I know (Michelle Bardsley) won it a couple years back but I don't remember anything about the POD part of it then.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Daphne Major.

Anonymous said...

Writer's Digest is not as good as it was years ago. Now it's only good as as long as you (1) only enter their free contests each month, and (2) totally ignore the ads throughout the magazine. Many of the articles seem to pander to the newbie, which, for a newbie, isn't too bad.