So, there is a big buzz going around about what is basically promising to be the "American Idol" of book publishing. Slut it up here
I have some pretty strong opinions on this which I will share below. It's not going to be pretty or polite, so if you're looking for "Nice Zoe" she's left the building for the day.
To be very blunt about this contest, I think it's lame.
I read the fine print. In the first place, with all the people who are going to be entering this thing I think your odds are really no better than they are if you were to go the traditional route trying to get an agent or submitting to small presses.
Supposedly these people are just Desperate to increase book sales and find new talent. If that's true, you should just leap right out of the slush pile, right? I don't buy it. I think it's just a bunch of publicity nonsense taking a bunch of newbie writers' hopes and dreams for a ride through their Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory of Doom.
From the site:
Submissions may not be submitted elsewhere unless and until the entrant has been eliminated from the Competition. By entering your Submission in the Competition, you hereby give Touchstone/Fireside (an imprint of Simon & Schuster) first publication rights to your manuscript until such time as you are eliminated from the Competition.
Excuse me? What? I'm your butt monkey now? I submit and you own me in some kind of novel limbo until such time as I'm eliminated? Yeah um...ok. Sure. I'll get right on that.
Granted, I do understand the purpose of them holding rights while the individual is in the competition, it would be crazy for someone to win and go: "Yeah, sorry I just got offered a better contract somewhere else." Still, the fact remains...if I've put my hat in the ring of your writing lottery, I can't actually pursue any other means of publication. (i.e. querying agents to represent me.)
And while it's RUDE to simultaneous submit to editors, it's pretty impractical to let a manuscript sit in a slush pile forever while you're waiting on someone to pass on it. Still, THIS says they own your ass until you're eliminated. If I was real serious about getting published...which I am...it seems a bit silly to tie myself up for months at a time when I could be sending out query letters.
The other thing that makes the little red flashing lights go off:
• By entering this Competition, you agree that if you are selected as the Grand Prize Winner, you will sign Simon & Schuster’s standard publishing agreement within five days of receipt of the agreement.
Whoa, there bucko...so assuming I'm the "one true chosen one" I have to just sign over my soul within five days? Is this a fiction contest or a hostage situation?
Also, is five days really enough time to find an agent or a lawyer to look over it to protect you? I mean we're talking a big publisher here with giant thirty page contracts designed to screw you over without the proper buffers in place. Does ANYONE go into a contract with a big publisher without a second set of eyes to protect them from evil legalese?
They aren't incredibly specific about what's in it for the poor sob that wins. ($5,000, a publishing contract, and distribution through Borders. Excuse me for saying so, but Borders alone isn't very wide distribution for a publisher of that clout.)
So...I'm just going to sit back and watch it like reality TV, like I did when Darva Conger, love her heart, won "Who wants to marry a multi-millionaire" and married a relatively poor (for a millionaire) balding ugly guy with no personality, whose later very public divorce was splashed all over the tabloids.
I imagine this will be something similar. I can't wait to meet the little Darva.