A friend on Twitter pointed something out yesterday that floored me. I usually consider writing contests and sometimes even remember the deadline and enter them. There is one out there that I am GLAD I missed out on though. First One Digital Publishing ran a writing contest open to works of prose 65K words and under. That’s no so unusual. What was pointed out to me that left me so happy to have not entered was in the rules, all the way down in clause 13. I’d be willing to bet that most people don’t make it down that far as they read.
Sitting there, looking innocuous, are the words, “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.” If that weren’t horrifying enough a little further down in the legal information is a line stating that, “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.” So now not only do they own YOUR entry completely, they don’t even have to give out the prizes!
What were the prizes you ask? The Grand Prize was a publishing contract with them, $5k, marketing and publicity tour and 20 books from their library. They state that the “Grand-Prize Winner must sign the publishing contract, which contains additional terms and conditions in order to be published.” Any bets that they will own that poor sucker for life? Sheesh! Be wary, folks. Please make sure that you read and understand the rules for any contest or contract BEFORE you enter or sign.