FirstOne Publishing. Also known as @FirstOneDigital on Twitter. It’s running a writing competition. I will not be entering this competition.
If you read the contest’s terms and conditions you’ll come across this little gem, otherwise known as Clause 13:
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.
What that means is that simply by entering your work in this competition you’re giving it to FirstOne Publishing for ever and always. FirstOne can use that work in just about any way it wants to, for ever, without ever paying you anything, or even letting you know it’s doing so.
What makes that worse is that FirstOne Publishing is charging a ridiculously steep entry fee of $149. So all entrants will be paying $149 FirstOne Publishing to take away the rights to their work for ever and always. Insult and injury, anyone?
I first heard about this over at AbsoluteWrite. On first glance it seemed like another literary competition run by clueless amateurs but no! Karen Hunter, who seems to be the person behind FirstOne, used to run a small imprint for Simon & Schuster. That doesn’t seem to have helped her writing and editing skills, though, as in her first comment on the AW thread Ms Hunter wrote,
The fee: $149, is to eliminate anyone who thinks they want to be published from entering.
Excuse me one moment: I just have to…
Sorry about that. No, I can’t get out of the infinity-loop that that sentence creates either.
LOL…to most of the responses. Here’s the deal: If you want to be a part of something bigger than what you’re currently doing, join us. Be a part of the solution, not a part of the naysaying and the problem. It’s very easy to sit on the sidelines and poke holes at everything. It is far more difficult to get out there and do something different. That’s what we’re doing.
Again, we’re grateful for the feedback because it certainly forces us to do a better job, which we will. But it seems as if the comments and the criticisms are not edifying. If your goal is to be a boo-bird. Good job. If you’re goal is to help change publishing, get in the game and let’s play.
Ms Hunter has provided all sorts of other goodies which I could analyse all the way from here to Barnsley but I think I’ve already made my point: and the definitive blog post about this has already been written by the wondrous Evil Wylie. Magnificent.
Plenty of other people have written about this too.
Janet Reid (literary agent of many years, and of excellent repute) says Don’t Enter This Contest! and while I wouldn’t make this up even if I were a whole bottle down, Ms Hunter replies:
While I appreciate your comments. And I understand your vested interest in this business because if we’re successful, we eliminate the need for literary agents, the contest hasn’t launched yet. So to post our rules and a link telling people that this is a contest to avoid is both self-serving and misleading. Are there issues with the rules, yes. But I think you should wait until the contest officially launches on Feb. 11, 2011, before you tell people to not join it. That’s the fair thing to do.
Could I, a 20-year veteran in publishing as a writer and publisher, afford to put out a contest that rips people off? I’m not desperate. The goal is to truly find the next great author, something not too many people are actually looking for. What’s been your success track record?
PS: I sleep extremely well every night because I operate in truth.
And then, moments later, comments again with this little gem:
If my response doesn’t appear on your blog, I’ll know what your true motives are. Thanks again.
Smart Bitches, Trashy Books: FirstOne Publishing Has The Last Word In Bad PR Responses:
The correct response is not, ‘You’re wrong. You have to trust me because I am made of awesome and also experience.’ No amount of sports rheotic and cliche will move that response from its current location in the Far Reaches of the Land of Crap.
Some bloke called Dr Phil, who I’ve never heard of but quite like right now, has posted a pretty good summary of events, and why he’s not going to be entering this competition any time soon in a post titled Yikes! Another Vile Writing Contest!
Writer Laura Anne Gillman made some pertinent comments.
There’s a lovely analysis of the contest’s rules here, written by a real-life lawyer!