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The fine print in writing contest submittals.

February 5, 2014
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The Trader: Man With No Face, by RK Mann

The Trader: Man With No Face, by RK Mann

Rachel Mann, a local Florida author, is our guest blogger today. Rachel authors Sci-Fi thrillers. Her latest, The Trader: Man With No Face, reminds me of the George Lucas Star Wars series. 
 
Today, Rachel offers up information and cautions on getting involved with publishing contests. She specifically investigates the Amazon Novel Contest. 
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Amazon has a novel contest for works that have not been published or have been self published. Submissions begin in February, 2014. You can view the terms at:
 
 
I read the terms and  the only prizes seem to be reviews in Amazon and (at the top) Publisher’s Weekly, plus Amazon publishing contracts. I was floored by what I found in the fine print. Look closely at section 5. Grant of Rights: 
 
you agree to negotiate the terms and conditions of a publishing agreement exclusively with Amazon Publishing for a period of 30 days after you receive notification from Amazon Publishing. If you and Amazon Publishing have not reached agreement after 30 days, you may offer the work to other publishers on the condition that before you enter into an agreement with another publisher, you will afford Amazon Publishing the last right to publish your Entry on the same terms and conditions offered by any other publisher, plus an advance against royalties 10% greater than the other offer… 
 
then check out section 9. Prizes:
 
…Amazon Publishing will determine the royalty rates to be paid under the publishing contract. If you are the Grand Prize Winner, you may not negotiate the publishing contract with Amazon Publishing, and you must sign it “as is” upon receipt of the executable contract (as described in Section 11 below) if you wish to enter into the publishing contract being awarded… 
 
The same applies to the first place winners.  If you read the posted contract details they don’t reveal much except the advance.Though they say in section 5. you can negotiate, in section 9. they say you cannot. Worse,  if you decline their deal, they have the right of first refusal – their terms being you must submit another publisher’s contract and they may match the contract and increase the royalty by 10%.  
In other words, if you don’t do their unknown deal, you will be negotiating in bad faith with anyone else. And since this contest is probably well known and Amazon’s terms are posted on the web, other publishers will know about it. Thus, why would any other publisher bother to even offer a contract, since they would know Amazon has the right to top it? Amazon claims the option to offer you a publishing deal, even if you don’t win, and bind you by the same first right of refusal. 
As I read it, Amazon can prevent you from ever getting another publishing deal on your work by just entering their contest. And they haven’t even paid you a dime. 
Of course, if you don’t care about your copyright, other rights to your work (film, tv, etc.), sequels and royalty rates, Amazon will give you a cash advance and reviews (presumably good) if you win. 
 
– Rachel Mann
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 Thoughts? Comments? Have you ever entered a contest? Did you win, or place? How was your experience?

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