I write for a newspaper, and this retreat/contest is in our purview. A colleague suggested I write about it, so I'm doing some preliminary research. I have no plans to enter the contest.
I couldn't find the contest or the affiliated publisher, SelectBooks, mentioned on this forum; I apologize in advance if there is a thread somewhere.
Basically, here's the deal (from their FAQ): To enter, you must be one of the first 100 people to sign up for a writing retreat in Vermont (with lodging costing about $200 for the required three-day stay, meals extra). You pitch your book at the retreat, and if you're picked as a finalist, you must return there (at your own expense) for a seven-day judging period that includes demonstrating your public speaking skills.
The judges include a publicist, an agent from Irene Goodman and the publisher of SelectBooks, which will publish the winning entry. The winner also gets the agent's and publicist's services. It's open to fiction and nonfiction, almost every genre.
Clearly this doubles as a way to draw publicity and paying customers to the retreat. They're not hiding that. It's the first I've heard of the retreat, but the website certainly makes it look like a nice place (it's rural Vermont, so of course it's gorgeous).
Given all that, my question: Is the contest worth the expense? Reputable names (to my limited knowledge) appear to be involved. But can they really find a publishable book in the first 100 entries? What happens if they don't? How valuable is a contract from SelectBooks? Is there fine print I'm not seeing?
I'm going to peruse their site further and contact them at some point, but I wondered if anyone here had experience with the publisher and/or the contest.
My colleague referred to the contest as a "reality show," and the site describes it as a "proposed web series." So maybe they have plans to film and stream it? "American Idol" for books?!