Alert: Screenplay Replay Contest

It’s right there in the logo of the Screenplay Replay Contest: the come-on.”Where Your Winning Script Gets a Publishing Deal.”

Here’s more:

In today’s competitive script marketplace, adaptation is king. From The Hunger Games to The Help to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, an incalculable number of blockbuster scripts started their lives as successful books.

So why not give your own spec screenplay a second life as a novel?

Screenplay Replay is an international competition calling for submissions of complete full-length screenplays in any genre. From these entries, one lucky winner will be chosen by our panel of esteemed judges to work with a successful ghostwriter to adapt his or her screenplay into a novel, which will be published through an imprint of F+W Media, and sold through major distribution channels.

This is a life-changing opportunity to become a published author, enjoying an income stream from your book’s royalties!

So, which imprint of F+W Media? The contest guidelines don’t say (they also don’t name the judges who’ll be picking the winner, or the “successful ghostwriter” who’ll be adapting the screenplay). Could it be Adams Media? Or F+W Crime? Or Writer’s Digest Books? Or any of F+W’s many other genuine publishing imprints?

Or could it be Abbott Press, the self-publishing division of Writer’s Digest, outsourced by WD to the much-criticized Author Solutions Inc.?

There are some highly suggestive indications that this is so. Abbott Press is listed as the contest’s sponsor, and it is the provider of all the additional prizes, which consist of Abbott Press publishing packages for four runners-up, and discounts on Abbot Press publishing packages for 25 finalists.

But indications are not fact–so I contacted Writers Store, where the contest is posted, to find out. Their response:

To our knowledge here at the store, yes it will be Abbott Press who publishes the winner.

Which makes the come-on for Screenplay Replay absolutely the most deceptive I’ve encountered recently. Abbott Press is not an “imprint” of F+W. An Abbott Press package is not a “publishing deal.” I think the chances are good that this isn’t even an F+W contest, but an Author Solutions contest (does F+W know its name is being used this way?), designed in large part to draw in new customers. Given ASI’s reputation for hard-sell, cold-call solicitations, what are the odds that all contest entrants will be urged to buy Abbott Press packages? Pretty good, I’d say.

Oh, and did I mention that the entry fee ranges from $50 to $100, depending on when you enter?

The last entry deadline was October 31. I deeply regret that I didn’t find out about this contest earlier, and that this post comes too late to be a warning. It is, however, yet more evidence of ASI’s sleazy promotional tactics–and yet another demonstration of the fact that spending big bucks to enter contests is rarely a good use of writers’ money.

EDITED 11/3 TO ADD: In a comment on this post, Jesse Douma, Screenwriting Community Leader for F+W Media and The Writers Store, says this:

The winning entry will be published through an F+W Media imprint and not through our sponsor’s self publish channel. The exact imprint will be determined by the genre of the winning entry.

I’ve posted a response requesting definite confirmation that the staffer who responded to my email was mistaken, and asking whether the contest originated with The Writers Store or with ASI/Abbott Press.


  1. When I was approached by Big Break contest (hosted by Final Draft) to be a judge on their TV writing competition I said why not since my agency needed to hire great writers for our 2015 roster. I read some interesting scripts and some were excellent in the execution but somehow they never made it to the quarterfinals. I found out that most of the winning scripts are from shows that are fairly easy to write for like Modern Family, but when you get to the more complex writing, like Criminal Minds, Hawaii 5-0, CSI, they aren't even considered. I was outraged that under 30 teleplays made to the quarterfinals whereas over 50 were chosen in the other categories. So I brought the scripts that I thought deserved to be in the finals and contacted one of those writers to find out that he’d had been writing for over 40 years and it showed in the script. I will sign him and make sure the spec script gets to the show he wrote for.
    In sum those contests favor writers who are paying a lot of money for their writing seminars; some might even get through with a spec for a show that doesn't include complex, intricate writing. And you might secure representation but it doesn't last long, and only for a very few. I'm not saying you shouldn't enter but if your script is the winner in the 'eeny meeny miny moe, catch a script by the toe' toss, then you have a chance. Believe me it's like the winning the lottery. The scripts that don't rise to the top are often the gems.

  2. Those of you who aren't finalists, I'll be interested to know whether you're solicited by Abbott Press or another Author Solutions "brand" to use self-publishing services.

  3. Interesting. Contest finalists were notified on 11/21. They left the rest of us all out there, dangling, wondering. Isn't it contest etiquette to notify everyone who entered???


  4. Forget the finalists! Let's see who the winner is!

    My script isn't Crime, Young Adult or Romance. Personally, I think I'll probably be asking for my money back.

  5. I've entered contests thru the Writers Store for several years. (And used their coverager services.) It's always been very professional. Great feedback and results.

    I know we're all chomping on the bit to see how this one turns out, but don't you think you should wait for the Finalists List to pass judgement on whether this one is for real?

  6. That should make Romance Comedy writers happy, but it doesn't help the rest of us. Our script doesn't fit into Crime, Romance or Young Adult. Just goes to show, we all need to research competitions before we pay the money to enter.

  7. Wow. If that's true, a lot of us are probably screwed.

    I'm pretty sure the Writers Store has a money back guarantee. Guess it may be time to find out how good that guarantee is.

  8. The original Writers Store ad clearly identitfied F&W Media as the publisher for the winning prize.

    What it didn't mention was F&W Media has only one fiction imprint, Tyson Books, which publishes only a VERY narrow spectrum of crime/mystery novels. Quirky, introspective mysteries with minimum blood and gore, engaging but small stories about ordinary people caught up in an unexpectedly dark situations.

    While their books are entertaining, they are very clear about the fact they don't do any other subjects. One would have to assume screenplays not in this specific genre have little chance in this contest.

    Advertising this fact would certainly have cut down the number of entries.

    Too bad. Hollywood is CRAZY for books right now. Getting a story published does greatly increase the chance of selling a script. It doesn't even have to be a particularly successful book.

    This contest could evolve into a significant contest if it would hook up with a publishing entity offering a broader range of fictional genres.

  9. I'm very interested to see how this plays out. I entered the contest and just yesterday found out that I was in the Top 25. I haven't been asked to buy anything, received no emails or calls to do so, and am hopeful that the motive behind the contest is and was genuine. That said, here's what I can tell you about all screenwriting contests: if you want your script to be read by someone other than your roommate and mother, you need to send it out. But buyer beware folks. Are there scams out there? YES. Have I fallen for one or two? YOU BET. But are all of them a waste of time and money? NOT EVEN. My writing partner and I have each placed in several established and respected contests and from that received excellent feedback (from those contests that offer judge's analysis), as well as exposure to other writers (winners and losers) and agents/managers who are looking for new talent. Bottom line, if you have to choose between eating or entering a contest, it should be a no-brainer. But if you can afford the fee, trust the source and have done your homework, it may be a risk worth taking. I'll update with more info when I hear about the next stage of the contest…Good luck all!

  10. I think some contests that allow you the option to get feedback on your script are worth it because, based on what they suggest, can point out plot holes and help make your script better. It certainly did for one of mine.

    However, I also happen to have entered this contest and am now regretting doing so after hearing all of this. Self-publishing can cost you more, but I haven't received any calls or e-mails asking me to buy Abbott Press packages. My suspicions are still up only because they changed the date of when they will announce the finalists and the winners. Maybe more people entered the contest than they had planned and needed more time to go through all of the scripts.

    Although, it does say on the home page of the Writers Store website that there's a money back guarantee. I'm sure they wouldn't want their reputation damaged by this. So if the contest does turn out to be bogus, and since we had to enter it through them, maybe they will give us a refund.

  11. Entering screenwriting contests IS an important part of platform building for aspiring screenwriters. But, writers need to research contests. Who reads your script? Is it someone's Aunt Susie who loves movies, or Hollywood insiders who can get you a movie deal? What's the prize? Sometimes a meeting with top agents and producers trumps cash. What's the track record of previous winners? If the past five winners all sold their scripts…you have my interest. Some prestigious contests, like the Nicholl Fellowship, sponsored by the Oscar organization, Final Draft's Big Break, and major film festivals are almost must-stops on the path to breaking in to Hollywood. Clearly, there are plenty of people willing to take advantage of screenwriters. Do your homework! I might add that I got emails for this "contest.". Lots of them. That alone made me suspicious. I am quite capable of adapting my own screenplays to novel form, and in fact, that's exactly what I am doing right now for two of my scripts. I sure don't want–orneedme random ghostwriter to do it for me!

  12. Jesse–Thanks for clarifying things with your comment. I do have a couple of questions…

    Can you confirm definitely that the Writers Store staffer who responded to my email (and who I quoted in the post) was mistaken?

    Can you confirm whether Screenplay Replay was originated by Writers Store, or by Author Solutions Inc./Abbott Press?

    Thank you.

  13. The winning entry will be published through an F+W Media imprint and not through our sponsor's self publish channel. The exact imprint will be determined by the genre of the winning entry.

    For over 30 years The Writers Store has served the writing community. It remains our mission to provide the best tools, education and opportunity to our audience. It was with this in mind that the Screenplay Replay contest was born – an opportunity for screenwriters to find success in an entirely new market.

    If you have any questions regarding this contest, please feel free to call and ask for me personally. My number is 800.272.8927 ext.1011.

    Best regards,

    Jesse Douma – Screenwriting Community Leader for F+W Media and The Writers Store.

  14. I've never run into a free contest and I've always been under the impression that the sole purpose of such contests is to con starving writers out of a few, sometimes a lot of, bucks.
    Every time I see these contests I look for the fee and a little voice says, "They must think I just fell off the turnip truck."

  15. Rarely, and I was once told by a writing proffessor that if you do join one make sure you get something regardless of winning, i.e. entry gets you a subrscitpion to their journal or something. And this only qualifies for established and trusted literary journals and magazines. SO basically if your paying more than ten bucks it's not worth it. And most of the time if you have to pay it's not worth it.

  16. Is there ever a contest worth entering that you have to pay to enter? I've gotten plenty of mileage out of free contests. Even not winning or placing still gets a name out there.

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