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First One Publishing / Karen Hunter Publishing

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Deb Kinnard

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My take: position hand in traditional Jedi mind-trick gesture. Repeat: "This is not the contest you're looking for. You can go about your business. Move along."

Repeat as needed.
 

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Karen, if you're still soliciting input into changes for your contest, here's what I would like to see:

Contest is open to submission of manuscripts in X genre(s) of word counts X,000 to Y,000 by authors of Z category (choose as appropriate: anyone residing in certain countries; anyone who has not published a novel and/or story previously; anyone who has not published a novel previously with a large commercial press, defined as receiving an advance >$X000.)

Judges for the contest will be X, Y, Z (linky: names, let me show you them).

First place winner will be offered an $X000 advance and a contract for publishing with FirstOne (linky: contract, let me show you it). Runners up will be offered a $Z000 advance and a contract for publishing with FirstOne (linky: contract, let me show you it).

Winning books will be published in print and/or e-book form and distributed through X, Y, Z (linky: our distributers, let me show you them).

If at least ZZ submissions are not received, no winners will be selected and the submission fee will be returned to all contest applicants.

Except for rights that may be contracted to FirstOne by the winning author(s), authors retain all rights to their manuscripts.
 

brainstorm77

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Meh! The entry fee is too rich for my blood.:tongue
 

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I don't pay publishers to take all my rights away from me without compensating me in any way.
 

Stacia Kane

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Wow, this is one contest that only an idiot would enter.


No, it's a contest only someone who doesn't know a lot about publishing would enter; that doesn't make someone an idiot, it just means they don't know a lot about a specialized industry or about rights/copyright etc.

If it was something only idiots would enter we wouldn't be here (well, we would, but you know what I mean). The problem is there are a LOT of newbie writers, people who don't understand how it works, people who honestly believe all the canards out there about having to "know somebody" or having to pay to be published or that Stephen King started out by selling his books door-to-door, or that you can't get published without an agent but an agent won't look at you if you aren't published. They're not idiots, they just don't know.

Unfortunately, not everyone has found AW, or follows the publishing industry online to keep up on this stuff. That's why we try to get the word out, and hopefully they'll find it, and us, and learn.

They're vulnerable, and they're naive, perhaps. But they're not idiots.
 

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No, it's a contest only someone who doesn't know a lot about publishing would enter; that doesn't make someone an idiot, it just means they don't know a lot about a specialized industry or about rights/copyright etc.

Exactly.

I don't think First One Publishing intends to defraud or cheat or scam or injure anyone.

I think they have the best intentions in the world.

But I also think, based on the language of the contest rules and the general absence of standard English on their Web site and elsewhere, that they are not at all clued in about publishing standards, production, or even the most basic principles of U. S. law related to contests, IP or the Web.
 

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Meh! The entry fee is too rich for my blood.:tongue
Mine too; I didn't mention that in my suggestions because it's been so well-covered upstream.

I think if a big name press that usually required agented submissions were to have a contest open to unagented authors, authors would be willing to pay a fee. Or if a prestigious press were to have a contest open to manuscripts in a niche-genre related to but outside the norm of what they usually publish (e.g. Harlequin looking for gay male romances), authors in that niche genre would be willing to pay a fee. Or if a well respected writers' group were to hold a contest (e.g. the RWA ones) authors would be willing to pay a fee.

But other than that....why pay a fee to submit when there are a zillion publishers, large and small, print and e-book, that accept unagented submissions for free? As James Macdonald says, if a book is good enough for one publisher, it's probably good enough for many.
 

Terie

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Exactly.

I don't think First One Publishing intends to defraud or cheat or scam or injure anyone.

I think they have the best intentions in the world.

But I also think, based on the language of the contest rules and the general absence of standard English on their Web site and elsewhere, that they are not at all clued in about publishing standards, production, or even the most basic principles of U. S. law related to contests, IP or the Web.

I agree, although considering the principal's experience in the industry (including starting an imprint at Simon & Schuster), I admit it makes it a little harder to give the benefit of the doubt than if it were someone without that experience.

Still, for now, I think the benefit of the doubt should be given. If the rights-grab language doesn't change before the contest opens on 11 Feb, especially after the splash on the Web this weekend, then it might be time to reconsider.

ETA: I only mean giving them the benefit of doubt as regards their intentions. There's no doubt at all that the contest fee is way too high and that it would still be inadvisable to submit.
 
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Midian

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Still, for now, I think the benefit of the doubt should be given. If the rights-grab language doesn't change before the contest opens on 11 Feb, especially after the splash on the Web this weekend, then it might be time to reconsider.

I dunno. It's exactly because of the creds behind this that I find the whole thing rather strange. A Pullitzer Prize winner is going all Britney on a forum, not even addressing the complaints on the rules except to say that whoever told us all this is lying (when it's her rules telling us this) and calling us cowards and naysayers. And the whole jumping on the bandwagon and joining them is just weird.

I can't think of anyone who would publish "filler rules until the real rules are ready." And these sound like they were written by someone that might have seen some contracts, is sort of familiar with how they are supposed to be worded and knows a tiny bit of legalese but is in no way an attorney. This isn't a blog contest where you win an ARC. Most companies will use an attorney that specializes in promotional contests (I have a friend that is one of these very attorneys if you need a referral, Karen) because there are very strict laws regarding these types of contests.

It's very unprofessional behavior and I have to wonder just what in the world is going on? These creds really don't support the actions so it leaves me completely befuddled.

And I agree with Stacia, the entrants aren't idiots. They're probably just not familiar with law and contracts so they're skipping over what's normally usual and customary language to find the specifics of what the sub should be, how many words, fee, and deadline. They just want to enter a contest that is run by what sounds on paper like a reputable publisher. They don't deserve to be called idiots, they're just inexperienced in these matters.

Even if the rules were fixed, I would still have a problem with the way it was handled from the get go. It's simply unprofessional behavior and reflects negatively on the company. I'm still scratching my head over why someone would post rules that they are saying aren't the rules and to wait until the launch for the real rules - which was really more of an implication because she didn't say the rules would be corrected. She only said that we should wait until the launch, enter the contest and then decide for ourselves if it's a scam. Mind boggling, to say the least.

Even if the intentions are good, it's too late now. This, to me, seems like a PR nightmare.
 

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Was Karen of FirstOne ever associated with DownTown Press? Because the wording for this contest, including odd terms like "nonprofessional writer" and the "if our computer gets infected by a virus" caveat, is identical to that for a contest held by DownTown several years ago.

http://books.google.co.nz/books?id=SB5qvhMaoO0C&pg=PA248&lpg#v=onepage&q&f=false

Adding: This bit:
INTERNET: If for any reason this sweepstakes is not capable of running as planned due to infection by computer virus, bugs, tampering, unauthorized intervention, fraud, technical failures, or any other causes beyond the control of the Sponsor which corrupt or affect the administration, security, fairness, integrity, or proper conduct of this Sweepstakes, the Sponsor reserves the right at their sole discretion, to disqualify any individual who tampers with the entry process, and to cancel, terminate, modify or suspend the Sweepstakes. The Sponsor assumes no responsibility for any error, omission, interruption, deletion, defect, delay in operation or transmission, communications line failure, theft or destruction or unauthorized access to, or alteration of entries. The Sponsor is not responsible for any problems or technical malfunction of any telephone network or telephone lines, computer on-line systems, servers, or providers, computer equipment, software, failure of any e-mail or entry to be received by Sponsor on account of technical problems, human error or traffic congestion on the Internet or at any Web site, or any combination thereof, including any injury or damage to participant's or any other person's computer relating to or resulting from participation in this sweepstakes or downloading any materials in this Sweepstakes. CAUTION: ANY ATTEMPT TO DELIBERATELY DAMAGE ANY WEB SITE OR UNDERMINE THE LEGITIMATE OPERATION OF THE SWEEPSTAKES IS A VIOLATION OF CRIMINAL AND CIVIL LAWS AND SHOULD SUCH AN ATTEMPT BE MADE, THE SPONSOR RESERVES THE RIGHT TO SEEK DAMAGES OR OTHER REMEDIES FROM ANY SUCH PERSON (S) RESPONSIBLE FOR THE ATTEMPT TO THE FULLEST EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW. In the event of a dispute as to the identity of a winner based on an e-mail address, the winning entry will be declared made by the authorized account holder of the e-mail address submitted at time of entry. "Authorized account holder" is defined as the natural person who is assigned to an e-mail address by an Internet access provider, on-line service provider or other organization (e.g., business, educational, institution, etc.) that is responsible for assigning e-mail addresses for the domain associated with the submitted e-mail address.
comes from Microsoft: http://www.microsoft.com/money/sweepstakes/rules.mspx and a beer contest: http://www.lcbo.com/beercontest/contest/en/rules.html and a guitar contest http://www.drmartens.com/page.asp?navid=47

While this bit:
Plagiarism, which includes the use of third-party poetry, song lyrics, characters or another person's universe, without written permission will result in disqualification. Excessive violence or sex, determined by the judges, will result in disqualification. Entries may not have been previously published in professional media.
has been attributed to the Writers of the Future contest: http://www.bookandreader.com/forums/f13/writers-of-the-future-9182.html

Is there some kind of standard everyone-uses-it-no-one-holds-copyright-and-no-need-to-attribute wording for contests?
 
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Old Hack

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Unimportant, I've not checked into this and I am not even a "pretend to be a lawyer when I'm cross in a shop" person: but I would imagine that the terms and conditions for competitions are subject to the same laws of copyright that everything else is. Not that that stopped Judith Griggs of Cooks Source: but look what happened to her.
 

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Wow, this is one contest that only an idiot would enter.

I wouldn't enter it and I am an idiot*.






*As Stacia says, people entering aren't idiots, just maybe not savvy with the industry and/or legalese. Me, a few years ago, before I found AW....I probably wouldn't have entered (fee too high) but I might have entered similar where the fee was lower, and got burnt.
 

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I've now blogged about this: but as others have already written so eloquently on the subject my post is little more than a round-up of those various other blog posts.
 

Terie

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While this bit:
Plagiarism, which includes the use of third-party poetry, song lyrics, characters or another person's universe, without written permission will result in disqualification. Excessive violence or sex, determined by the judges, will result in disqualification. Entries may not have been previously published in professional media.

has been attributed to the Writers of the Future contest: http://www.bookandreader.com/forums/f13/writers-of-the-future-9182.html

Is there some kind of standard everyone-uses-it-no-one-holds-copyright-and-no-need-to-attribute wording for contests?

Is it just me, or is plagiarising a definition of plagiarism just incredibly funny?
 

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I'm afraid I have several problems with this. The cost? Well, to each his own. Some will pay it--others would not. I would not, shrug.

My main problem with the contest, and the reason I twittered it all day yesterday is this (bold addition mine):

*All submissions become sole property of Sponsor and will not be acknowledged or returned. By submitting an entry, all entrants grant Sponsor the absolute and unconditional right and authority to copy, edit, publish, promote, broadcast, or otherwise use, in whole or in part, their entries, in perpetuity, in any manner without further permission, notice or compensation. Entries that contain copyrighted material must include a release from the copyright holder. Prizes are nontransferable. No substitutions or cash redemptions, except by Sponsor in the event of prize unavailability. Sponsor reserves the right to its sole discretion to not publish the winning entry for any reason whatsoever.

So, once we send you our 50k book--we no longer have any rights to it whatsoever. We are, in effect, paying you $149 to be able to use our book--and sell it--without even paying us for it?

And, though the prize IS publication, along with the 5k, you reserve the right to not publish it for any reason So, you're in essence, saying you can NOT award the winning prize--the entrant has paid $149 to win--and don't even have to have a reason?

What's the point of the contest, then? If you're not looking for good work to publish and contract--why give yourself the out? Why not let the potential contestant see the contract they will be agreeing to? WAIT--I forgot--we get no compensation once the entry is in your hands.

Cited from Plagiarism.com
According to the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, to "plagiarize" means


  • to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one's own
  • to use (another's production) without crediting the source
  • to commit literary theft
  • to present as new and original an idea or product derived from an existing source.
In other words, plagiarism is an act of fraud. It involves both stealing someone else's work and lying about it afterward.
But can words and ideas really be stolen?

According to U.S. law, the answer is yes. The expression of original ideas is considered intellectual property, and is protected by copyright laws, just like original inventions. Almost all forms of expression fall under copyright protection as long as they are recorded in some way (such as a book or a computer file).



As to the comments re self-publishing. Here are a few facts for you. Smashwords is FREE. Lulu is FREE and Create Space is $39.00---all less than the $149 fee you're charging.



A "big publisher" with 5-10 titles. You can produce 5 titles via Create Space for around $200. Listing on the various e-book and print sites is free. Not a huge investment for a company. Now, if you're distributing via the big name b&m distributors--tell us.



Please look at the wording in your contest. It's easy to find sample 'rules' for about anything on the Internet. I'd suggest an attorney personally.

Most of us that are on the Internet know not to give our real information out. In a world of cyber-stalking, theft identity and other assorted hazards--it would be silly to do so.

Unlike most of the responses here, I'll admit I found this site via a blog comment I found elsewhere--and felt I wanted to interject my thoughts.

But, maybe I'm being too suspicious. Though, your own site says you "IN ADDITION, FOP DOES NOT REPRESENT OR WARRANT THAT THE INFORMATION ACCESSIBLE VIA THIS SITE IS ACCURATE, COMPLETE OR CURRENT."

As to your belief that 'bad writers' won't pay the fees--I literally just rolled my eyes. I hate to be the one to say this--but it's the bad ones that 'will' pay it.

Those of us that are either published elsewhere (who are not allowed to enter anyway) or professional writers (who are not allowed to enter) know better.

Do we assume that if our entry is not accepted that our money is to be refunded?

There are a lot of questions--but your answers haven't really answered any of them.

Of course we are going to go by the rules you've posted--they are the only ones available! It doesn't matter if it's 'started' yet. It's posted for everyone to read.

I did try to comment on your site--but found no email address anywhere--which is likely just my not searching long enough.
 
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Is it just me, or is plagiarising a definition of plagiarism just incredibly funny?

Not just you.... almost the entire contest rules can be found here, right down to being void in Quebec and Puerto Rico. The linked contest takes the same rights but didn't seem to be charging for the taking. And Pocket Books does claim copyright on that page, whether validly or otherwise.
 

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I'm late to the discussion, but when I saw 'terrestrial' rights, I assumed that they meant 'world rights'. As in, all languages, all countries. So not only would you give up your rights to your book, but you'd give up your rights to publish your book in other countries as well. ;)
 

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