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[Critique] Coffee House Fiction

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JeanneTGC

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Does anyone know anything about this particular company, Coffee House Fiction?

http://www.coffeehousefiction.com/index.html

I've searched the threads, but so far I've only found a couple of quick references to Coffee House Press (http://www.coffeehousepress.org/) -- I don't think that's the same company as this one, though they could be related. The addresses are different -- but I've found that with legit pubs (like Tin House) where the street address of the pub isn't where you send your submissions.

Coffee House Fiction advertises an online writing contest through the Writer's Digest newsletter. They seem on the up and up, but after spending a little time here, I am now so aware that being associated with the Writer's Digest does not mean 100% reputable in all cases. The contest seems reasonable, and they do list the previous winners, etc. However, I don't want to enter, and spend $15, if they aren't reputable.
 

blackbird

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The judges all have MFA degrees. It spells "don't bother entering unless you write literary fiction." ;)

Otherwise, it seems like a reasonable contest and the judges all seem to have, insofar as I can tell, good credentials.
 

victoriastrauss

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A discouraging sign is the "big bad mean old publishing industry" verbiage on their opening page: "We understand the maddening challenge encountered by new writers. You can't get published because you haven't been published. An agent won't read what you've written. Marketing trumps talent."

Sure it does. But how exactly an obscure contest run by people no one has ever heard of will help, they don't say.

They say that winners may be asked to be part of a compilation coming from their parent, Mud House Publishing, which is described as a "very small publisher of creative fiction"--so small, in fact, that it doesn't appear actually to exist.

I'm not saying this contest is questionable--there's no sign of that. And if you win, the $500 would be nice. But as with most contests, don't expect this one to do anything for your career.

- Victoria
 

Carmy

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I gave up on contests after being a judge for one. There were three judges, me and two others who were both university professors. We were inundated with short stories, some good, some flippin' awful.

One story stood out and we agreed it was excellent and had all the elements a short story should have. However, it didn't win because the second choice involved a - guess what! - a university professor and his student. I was outvoted and the best story was shoved to one side.

I lost my faith in the fairness of competitions after that.
 

Angelinity

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Carmy said:
I gave up on contests after being a judge for one. There were three judges, me and two others who were both university professors.

One story stood out and we agreed it was excellent and had all the elements a short story should have. However, it didn't win because the second choice involved a - guess what! - a university professor and his student. I was outvoted and the best story was shoved to one side.

thank you for sharing that, carmy! i feel (a little) less inadequate at writing after reading your post :D
 

JeanneTGC

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Thanks for the feeback everyone! I only look to enter contests because *sigh* all the agents and magazine editors seem to want a writing credit of some kind, and so far, I am not published anywhere.

While winning one of the prizes would be nice, if, as Victoria suspects, it's not going to help my writing career much, it may not be worth it to enter. But since no one seems to think it's a scam, I'll still consider it...for a while. :-D
 

David McAfee

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JeanneTGC said:
Thanks for the feeback everyone! I only look to enter contests because *sigh* all the agents and magazine editors seem to want a writing credit of some kind, and so far, I am not published anywhere.

While winning one of the prizes would be nice, if, as Victoria suspects, it's not going to help my writing career much, it may not be worth it to enter. But since no one seems to think it's a scam, I'll still consider it...for a while. :-D

How much is the entry fee?
 

JeanneTGC

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$15 entry fee, and the first prize is $500. From what I can tell on the website, they have paid the winners of past contests. And posted them to their site. However, I don't think there is a much wider distribution than that.

They also say they'll take pretty much any genre of fiction, so, as a contest goes, it sounds good. As something to show off as a writing credit, though, per Victoria, not so much.
 

blackbird

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Winning the contest could be a potential credit if you write literary fiction and are only submitting to small literary or university presses. It might carry some weight there, as the academic community tends to be a small world where most everyone either knows or has heard of everyone else within it. Outside that small circle, however, it probably wouldn't count for much.
Depends on your publishing goals, potential audience, and exactly what type of credentials you're looking for. It won't impress a New York agent. But it might impress an editor at, say, Georgia Review.
 

JeanneTGC

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Hmmm...only a few of my short stories would fall under the "literary" heading. Otherwise, I tend to write genre fiction, mostly speculative fiction, at that.

So, if I understand you correctly, you're saying that winning this could help me place a few of my short stories (maybe), but don't expect it to be a boost in finding an agent for my completed fantasy novel.

Of course, not winning just means out $15 and nothing more, but like with everything else, you can't win unless you submit. ;-D
 

blackbird

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JeanneTGC said:
Hmmm...only a few of my short stories would fall under the "literary" heading. Otherwise, I tend to write genre fiction, mostly speculative fiction, at that.

So, if I understand you correctly, you're saying that winning this could help me place a few of my short stories (maybe), but don't expect it to be a boost in finding an agent for my completed fantasy novel.


Exactly.
 

Dragon-lady

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I gave up on contests after being a judge for one. There were three judges, me and two others who were both university professors. We were inundated with short stories, some good, some flippin' awful.

One story stood out and we agreed it was excellent and had all the elements a short story should have. However, it didn't win because the second choice involved a - guess what! - a university professor and his student. I was outvoted and the best story was shoved to one side. Some out there will definitely help.

I lost my faith in the fairness of competitions after that.
I don't think it follows that all writing competitions are fixed.

For example, if you're going to tell me that Writers of the Future (as much as I dislike the Hubbard association) isn't a fair contest, I'll strongly disagree. There are competitions and then there are competitions.
 

IceCreamEmpress

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I don't think it follows that all writing competitions are fixed.


Her point, wasn't, I don't think, that it was "fixed"--it was that an arbitrary factor (familiarity with the subject matter) wound up being more important, in the end, than seemingly objective factors.

I think this is true of all contests. Someone may have written an incredible short story/play/whatever about a boy and his dog. If one of the judges hates dogs, that arbitrary factor is going to affect how well the work is received.

A fairly-run contest with qualified judges will certainly end with one winner selected from the best set of entries. However, that winner may or may not be "better" than the other top finishers--there may be a bunch of arbitrary factors at play.
 

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Coffee House Fiction

Thought i'd join in. I got an email today, "Congratulations you are one of our 4 winners" from, guess who, Coffee House Fiction! Hey, I feel good and a little motivated to keep on with my sticking novel.

I entered last December, forgot all about it and now, presto. My piece is not literary, nor genre, it's just a story about an old man and his grand-daughter. Will being in the winner's circle change my life, I doubt it. If it does, I'll keep you posted.

CHF seem genuine so far. I think we've got to push out to get back and maybe trust a little that some people do mean well in this bad world. If we get hurt, it's still only $15. For them, it's their karma that's at stake.

Thanks, Pablo
 

CaoPaux

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Anyone have recent contact with these folks? Site hasn't been updated since '10, and FB since Dec '13.
 

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