Friday Conversations With A Self-Publishing Writer 1/24/14


Two days ago I received a phone call from a former client—a memoir author who created one of the most heartwarming memoirs I’ve helped place in manuscript form.  He was very excited to tell me about a “great opportunity” he’d found in one of his favorite magazines; the “opportunity” to submit his “unpublished” memoir and WIN “big bucks,” PLUS have his work published by a major publishing house!  WOW, indeed!

My dear friend is not what he calls “handy with a computer,” so he asked me to look into the details and “rules of submission.”  That I did and I was shocked by what I read—shocked, angered, and very disappointed in the enterprises (magazine/publisher) that I considered to be among the best-of-the-best.  Imbedded in the “rules” was this statement:

“Submission of an Initial Entry grants sponsors and their agents the unconditional, irrevocable, perpetual, worldwide right to publish, use, adapt, edit and/or modify such entry in any way, in any and all media, without limitation, and without consideration to the entrant, whether or not such entry is selected as a winning entry.”

Now I am concerned for my other clients (yes, I’ve contacted them) and all the folks out there who will read the first portions of the “rules,” follow the submission requirements, and LOSE ALL THE RIGHTS to their own stories simply by sending in an “entry.”  Bottom-line, I believe these publishing entities are on-the-hunt for excellent true stories (memoirs) that can be turned into “best sellers” by their writers—for their profit—and “without consideration” to the authors, the people who have lived those events.

SO IT IS that I offer a few pointers to those who enjoy entering writing contests:

  • READ EVERY WORD of the rules—whether titled Contest Rules or Submission Rules.  If there is ANY HINT of giving up ANY of your author rights, DO NOT SUBMIT ANYTHING to that contest.
  • Yes, there are writing contests that are reputable.  DO your homework and research the contests by contest name, sponsors, and previous “reviews” and/or comments.
  • There are many reasons for entering a writing contest.  What is yours?  Are you looking for an award that will enhance your writing resume or look good on the cover of your book?  Do you think “winning” will finally get your book published?  These can happen.  But, again, be aware of the cost to you—the time spent and emotional investment.
  • Finally, watch out for sales pitches—from associated contacts—that start coming your way.  Too many “contests” out there are simply fronts for finding potential customers in the writing software/hardware and publishing markets.

How am I counseling my memoir client?  After sending him a copy of ALL the rules and statements associated with that “contest”—and my warning NOT to submit his memoir to them—I sent him my review of a reputable self-publishing house where he WILL RETAIN ALL of his author rights.  He had not wanted to “publish” his memoir prior to seeing the advertisement for this contest.  However, several acquaintances who have read the manuscript have encouraged him to “get this story into the hands of more people.”  I hope he does.  It is a wonderful love and life story.

Royalene ABOUT ROYALENE DOYLE: Royalene Doyle is a Ghostwriter with Outskirts Press, bringing more than 35 years of writing experience to authors who need “just a little assistance” with completing their writing projects. She has worked with both experienced and fledgling writers helping complete projects in multiple genres. When a writer brings the passion they have for their work and combines it with Royalene’s passion to see the finished project in print, books are published and the writer’s legacy is passed forward.

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