UPDATE: First Chapters Writing Competition

By Katharine Swan On Wednesday, August 01, 2007 At 9:05 AM

Just yesterday, I posted regarding a book competition for unpublish romance novel writers, Gather.com's First Chapters Writing Competition. Although a representative of Gather.com had asked me to post on the contest, my biggest point in the post is the need for writers to thoroughly research contests before submitting.

One problem I've seen before is contests taking all rights to all submissions, whether or not you are a winner. I think contests like those are simply attempts to get a whole bunch of copy for free.

The other thing I was concerned about with First Chapters is the requirement of posting your chapters online: online posting can be counted as first publication, ruining your chances of selling first rights to your work. The exception is if the work is posted in a membership-only forum -- that's considered pretty much the same thing as emailing your work to a select group of friends or a writers' group. Fortunately, in this case the contest submissions are open only to Gather.com members, so I decided the contest was "safe."

However, I have an update on the First Chapters Writing Competition. While reading Writer Beware this morning, I noticed a post regarding the contest. While Victoria Strauss found no problem with the rules of the First Chapters Writing Competition, she did note that there have been some problems lately with Simon & Schuster contracts. Since by submitting to the Gather.com contest you are promising to give Simon & Schuster first dibs on your book until you are eliminated, this could be a problem -- after all, if they know they have you between a rock and a hard place, how willing to negotiate will they be?

Please keep this information about Simon & Schuster in mind if you decide to submit to the First Chapters Writing Competition!

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Katharine Swan is a full-time freelance writer with more than 5 years of professional writing experience. In addition to maintaining several personal blogs, she writes a variety of online marketing materials for clients, including company blogs, articles, and press releases. In her free time, she spends time with her horse, reads, and writes fiction.

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