This is the kind of post I wish I got to write more often.
For the past couple of weeks I’ve been getting inquiries about the Neoverse Short Story Writing Competition, sponsored by Neoglyphic Entertainment.
The competition is free to enter–always a good thing–and offers cash prizes as well as anthology publication for the winners. But there was a problem: the Official Rules, which included a number of author-unfriendly provisions. All entrants were required to grant exclusive publishing rights, even though only the best 20 would be included in the anthology. While the top 10 entrants received cash prizes, entrants 11-20 got no payment at all. And Neoglyphic retained a right of first refusal for entered stories that received other publishing offers–not just an overly sweeping claim, but a conflict with the exclusive grant of rights.
I’ve devoted a lot of blog space to bad contest terms, but given the lure of writing contests, it’s a subject that never goes out of style. I was preparing a post on the Neoverse competition when I received an email from Neoglyphic’s co-founder and COO, David Ramadge, introducing himself and his company and asking for feedback. I sent back a list of questions…and to make a long story short, David and his colleagues–who were already working to change things based on advice from other experts–have re-written the rules.
The new rules can be seen here. (For comparison, the old rules have been left online.) The grant of rights is now non-exclusive, and only the 20 winners grant publishing rights; other entrants grant only the right for their stories to be distributed for the purpose of judging. All 20 winners now receive cash prizes, making the anthology a paying market.* The right of first refusal is gone, and the license terms overall have been simplified and clarified. And all these changes are retroactive. If you’ve already entered, you are now covered by the new rules.
I have to say that I’m very impressed with Neoglyphic’s openness to change. So often, small presses respond to criticism and suggestion with anger and intransigence. Neoglyphic says it wants to be “a positive contributor to the writing community”; in my opinion, it has made a good start.
So should you enter? That’s up to you. In addition to the cash prizes, the competition promises “Visibility, Recognition, Reward” for the authors published in the anthology–a promise that may or may not be deliverable, even for an established publisher.
And Neoglyphic is not an established publisher. It is a new company, and the anthology will be only its second publication (the first will be Sunborn Rising, an “immersive novel”). When I asked David Ramadge why authors should consider an as-yet untested publisher–especially given the volatility of the small press world, where new publishers are as likely to fail as to survive–he told me: “[W]e are a company aimed at building tools for storytellers and creators….In regards to the readership of this anthology, we obviously do not know with certainty what kind of distribution we will achieve but are confident in the relationships and marketing abilities of our team to provide a meaningful result for our winners. This is also why we made the entry free and the prizes generous, because we are new….[F]or us this contest is about building goodwill and a name for ourselves, and so it is in our interest to make this as successful as possible.”
The submission deadline for the Neoverse Short Story Writing Competiion is December 20, 2015.
* Authors do not receive royalties from the Neoverse competition anthology; the prize money is their only compensation. Some people feel that a royalty structure is a more equitable form of payment, because it allows authors a share of profit–but especially for small press anthologies, where distribution may be limited and sales may be small, my feeling is that a flat fee is preferable to a percentage of income split among a big pool of contributors.
In any case, David Ramadge tells me that Neoglyphic plans to reinvest any profits the anthology may realize: “From a financial perspective, never has it been our goal to generate a direct profit with this contest; if we do happen to sell anthology copies to cover the costs of prizes, production and marketing then those funds will go directly back into the Neoverse contest.”
Hi everyone – after a couple of weeks back and forth with our winners we are thrilled to announce them formally! You can check out our post on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IDl3xNHp5Ds
Or on our site at: http://www.neoglyphic.com
We were so humbled by all the great entries and are excited to now be working with the winners to publish Volume 1 of our Anthology. It's available for order on Amazon (http://amzn.to/1S2jyfM). We are busy applying what we learnt from this contest to run another one again soon. Hope to see you all enter! Please let us know if you have any thoughts or feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org
We wanted to update you on the state of the Neoverse contest.
FRIENDS OF PEACE REVOLUTION we are sorry for any frustration the delays have caused. At the end of the day we received thousands of entries, and we were focused on ensuring the integrity of the competition by reviewing each story. The volume of entries was likely driven by the free entry, as well as significant cash prize and publication – but we do recognize how frustrating delays can be.
We did extend to the 29th and at that time we did notify 95% of our entrants that they had been unsuccessful. Since then we have been refining that 5% down to the Top 20, and at the same time confirming eligibility of the potential Winners. We have now started contacting those Top 20 individually (as they all need to formally accept their Prize before we can announce publicly).
And to Anonymous/Mickey, we have decided not to share exact numbers of entries, but the several thousand description is a good description.
Finalists, the top 5% entered, were notified on 3/1/16. The (Submission) Grinder reported 15 rejections on the same day. Apparently writers submitted "several thousand" stories. How many would that be, I wonder.
It was moved to the 29th, not that 26th. You'll know tomorrow.
Calm down, FRIENDS OF PEACE REVOLUTION, and turn off your caps lock. They announced 6 weeks ago that the winners would be announced on Feb. 29th, not 26th. Also, it was a free submission with money prizes and publication as an incentive–you don't "DESERVE" anything. Sheesh. Pull your story out of the race if that's your attitude.
WELL THE NEW DEADLINE TO ANNOUNCE THE WINNERS WAS MOVED TO YESTERDAY FEBRUARY 26TH AND I'VE BEEN ANXIOUSLY WAITING THIS WHOLE TIME AND STILL NO ANNOUNCEMENT? I HAVE SIGNED UP FOR THE NEWSLETTER A FEW TIMES TO MAKE SURE I GET IT AND NOW IT SAYS YOU NEED TO SEND IN A S.A.S.E ? HELLO? WHERE IS THE LIST OF WINNERS? I HAVE BEEN PATIENT ENOUGH WITH ONE OF MY BOOKS IN THEIR HANDS AND I DESERVE TO KNOW NOW PLEASE. WHAT'S GOING ON?
Well, guess I'm entering after all – although I still have a concern about "suitable for general viewing" when it's not defined at all. That's not something there's a general consensus on.
Sounds good. And I have never had royalties for an anthology, though some do offer a bit of extra money if the anthology goes overseas. Most anthologies tend to be published by small presses these days and those can't usually afford royalties for short stories. My only concern, if I was submitting to an anthology, would be how long those rights would last. You wouldn't, say, expect to have to give up your rights permanently for a small payment. But most publishers I have dealt with only want you to hold off resubmitting for a year at most.
We would love to open the contest to residents of Quebec, we know there is a strong writing community there. However, the laws and regulations governing contests for cash prizes are different in Quebec. For this contest, we did not have the resources to research and comply with multiple regulations by jurisdiction (we have also had inquiries from many authors in the UK, Australia, etc). Our goal is to expand in future contests. You can always sign up for our newsletter to stay informed of future contests and any expansion.
Rule 4: We welcome all authors from the United States and Canada (excluding Quebec).
What's wrong with Quebec?