Do you submit to contests?
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I recently received a list of essay contests from a writing blog I subscribe to. I was wondering how you decide who to send your work to and who not to. What I mean is, when it isn't a widley known publication, and they don't list anything in submission guidlines regarding rights (publishing/editing), have any of you ever submitted work in this situation? How did it turn out. Also, Glamour magazine and Real Simple Magazine had contests on this list, but when I went through their submission guidelines, it states that they basically retain all rights to the piece (publishing and editing). Have any of you ever submitted under these circumstances, and how did it turn out?
  • I've certainly submitted to contests, but I'm not a huge fan. There are so many out there and it can get expensive, so you really need to read through all the fine print and pick-and-choose. The good news is that (generally) there tend to be far fewer submissions for nonfiction contests than fiction and poetry, so your odds are better just because of the genre.
  • I should be so lucky, right? In all seriousness, I have not ever come across a stipulation like that. I can't say I like the idea of some major corporation having the right to use my writing and my image any way they please. There's the whole "without further compensation" to consider, as well. I guess each writer will have to decide is she thinks the potential prize is worth the trade-off.
  • Thanks for the response. I knew what the difference between rights were, but not sure what it means when they simply don't address rights. I was thinking the same thing as you, if it doesn't state otherwise, the rights probably revert back to the writer, but I was hoping to get some confirmation on this. My concern with Glamour and Real Life isn't the publishing rights (it would be worth the prize), but that it states they reserve the right to edit the work without the author's consent (if I'm reading it correctly) here is the statement on Real Simple's website: "by entering, Entrant grants to Sponsor a nonexclusive, worldwide, royalty-free license to edit, publish, promote, and republish at any time in the future and otherwise use Entrant’s submitted essay, along with Entrant’s name, likeness, biographical information, and any other information provided by Entrant, in any and all media for possible editorial, promotional, or advertising purposes, without further permission, notice, or compensation (except where prohibited by law). " I was just wondering if anyone had ever run into a problem with this, like having an essay altered in a way that made you uncomfortable/embarassed and not having a choice in the matter? Thanks again for responding!
  • Rights are very simple: first publication rights means that after the initial print, the rights automatically revert to you. The magazine wants to print the winning piece, so they don't want another publication scooping them. WIth Glamour and Real Simple: as large-circulation glossies, they have a lot to loose if you win their contest and decide to pursue publication elsewhere. I am guessing that many a book deal is offered to the winner of a Glamour or Real Simple contest. By retaining full rights, they will get a cut of whatever book/TV/film rights. If a contest doesn't list first publication rights, I believe they automatically revert to you after printing. You might want to look into that before accepting, but don't bug them about it on your submission cover. Out the window your sub would go, I am afraid. As far as choosing where to submit:I set myself an annual budget. $50, $200, whatever. This includes entrance fee, mailing costs, and copying costs -- if the contest is for a novel. there's $25 to copy and another $25 to mail. Essay contests are great because there is no copy or mailing fee. At $10-$15 per entry, I submit widely. With literary magazines, you often receive a year's submission for entering the contest. THere is no better way to find out if you want to be in a journal than to read it for a year.