Today’s Writing Contest To Run Like Hell From

It’s this one, from an outfit called First One Digital Publishing. Why? Because it costs $149 to enter, and because of this little gem in the contest fine print:

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.

So, to be clear: These people want you to sign away all the rights you have to your own work — and they want you to pay them to do it. That’s just very special.

Now, if you win, you’ll apparently be offered $5,000 and a publishing contract, but, you know what, if you have a manuscript good enough to submit to this contest, why not just submit it to a publisher rather than enter it in this ridiculous contest? Preferably to a publisher who won’t charge you to submit your work, or demand all of your rights as a condition for submitting your material, and who may even offer you more than $5,000 for your work.

Oh, and here’s a lovely bit in the rules:

In the event that there is an insufficient number of entries received that meet the minimum standards determined by the judges, all prizes will not be awarded.

Which is to say, it’s entirely possible no one will win anything. But what will happen to the contest entry fees and the submitted materials? Well, it doesn’t say, which means you should probably assume that you won’t be getting any money back, or the rights to your work back, either. Want to complain about it? Sorry, you probably didn’t read this part of the rules:

By entering, entrants release judges and Sponsor(s), and its parent company, subsidiaries, production, and promotion agencies from any and all liability for any loss, harm, damages, costs, or expenses, including without limitation properly damages, personal injury, and/or death arising out of participation in this contest, the acceptance, possession, use or misuse of any prize, claims based on publicity rights, defamation or invasion of privacy, merchandise delivery, or the violation of any intellectual property rights, including but not limited to copyright infringement and/or trademark infringement.

So, to review: Pay to enter, lose all rights to your work, no guarantee of any winners at all and you’ll have no legal recourse against these folks.

Again: What a very special contest.

There’s no way in hell I would enter a writing contest with rules and requirements like these. If any of my friends asked me if they should enter it, I would ask them if they were high. Let these two statements be your guide when considering it for yourself.

Some further thoughts on this contest here and here.

Update, 1/18, 3:21pm: First One Publishing has apparently taken down its contest rules. More details here.

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