Friday, January 31, 2014

On Entering Contests and Submitting to Websites/Magazines: Too Good to be True?

I know it's very tempting to enter your manuscript into as many contests as possible and/or just GET IT OUT THERE AND UP THERE, but some contests and websites have considerably troubling fine print attached. The last thing you want to do is tie up your rights!

This is an interesting article about the motives behind and reputability of contests generally, but in terms of fine print for contests and websites, here are a few things to look out for:

  • What are they allowed to do with your content? Edit and annotate and print without approval?
  • Do you keep copyright to your content, or is it turned over to them when you enter? (Do they own all intellectual property submitted?)
  • Do they have world distribution rights? Forever?
  • Will you ever be allowed to publish the work elsewhere? Without needing permission from them?
  • Do you have to pay to enter?

The terms offered are often non-negotiable; take it or leave it. With magazines and websites, if there's anything troubling, it's worth asking and trying to get better terms.

Most likely, you'll end up having to weigh the benefits of continuing as-is vs. dropping it, which is ok - it's not a bad thing to turn over rights in a work to be published (that's what a publishing contract is, after all!), as long as you know what you're getting into and why!

But you should NEVER just blindly submit.

Here are a few contests and websites I picked out as examples of fine print you'd want to have read before entering (not to warn against or signal anyone out, just because they popped up while Googling and had fine print I could use as example):

Arizona Writers Mystery Contest
Requirements contain the line "If you have not heard from us by then, you are free to send your story elsewhere." Does this mean while they're considering you can't submit the story to other contests, or contests and publishers, or agents, or...? This is a situation I'd ask.

Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award
Paragraph 5: Grant of Rights: Regardless of if you win or not, you agree to negotiate publishing rights with them exclusively for 30 days if they want to publish, and they have matching terms (meaning, even if they offer, and you get another offer, they have the right to top that offer and you can't accept another lesser offer - which isn't good, because it's just weighing money vs. house and marketing etc). They can also edit the formatting of your entry without approval. Your agent also can't send it out anywhere (for consideration for publication) while it is being considered for the contest.

You retain ownership, however: "You do, however, hereby grant us a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, sublicenseable and transferable license to use, reproduce, distribute, prepare derivative works of, display, and perform the Content, your name, and your screen name on the Website and elsewhere in any media now known or hereafter devised, along with the right to excerpt, analyze, and index your Content." These terms do expire upon deletion/removal, though.

My best advice: if you're agented, talk with your agent before entering any contest or posting online, and be sure to get the green light. If you aren't (and even if you are), carefully read the fine print, and make sure you are ok with it all. I can't say enough: the very last thing you want to do is tragically tie your publishing hands up and close the door to opportunities unknowingly!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Love/Hate Wednesday


Diving back into action!

Publishing is waaaaking back up again, and I love rush rush rushing and pitch pitch pitching! This is a busy month, but here's a secret: I feel most motivated in busy months! So don't be afraid to query or check in if you have the perfect project for me! I'm waking back up too.


Not being able to share awesome covers right when I get them!

A lot of the time, publishers and editors will send over the cover for the book, but not want to release it wide to wait for a cover reveal, blurbs, finalization, or until it's up on Amazon and the website. This can mean months of sitting on a lovely cover I want to share with the world...and can't! *cries*

But, as I heard yesterday and loved: champagne problems. 

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Breaking Down 2013

Happy New Year!!

Here's how my agent life stacked up in numbers for 2013:

Queries (unsolicited) rec’d: 2,244

Request rates (based on above):

Partial: 2.9%
Full: 1.6%
Offers: .4%

This means, roughly, that I request a partial three times out of every 100, a full twice out of every 100, and offer on less than 1 out of every 100 queries I receive.

In case the above is too depressing, once I do make a request:

  • I am 12% likely to end up offering when I request a partial
  • I am 56% likely to request the full from a partial
  • I am 21.6% likely to make an offer on a full request

So wow me with your query and get into my read pile!!

Avg. response time:
Partial: 7 weeks
Full: 8 weeks

I was surprised to see this, until I realized how I'm reading: I read in order (unless there's a deadline or I'm super excited...), regardless of whether it's a partial or a full (I do prioritize client work). Methinks I need to adjust the read times posted on my blog!

R&R’s requested: 9
Offers from R&Rs: 1

Four of these R&R's have yet to come back my way, however, and one is in that I haven't read yet. So, it's really more of a 1:4 ratio for offers from R&R.

Months with most requests: January, February, September

Months with most queries: January, February, July, September and November

Most active period of offering and signing: May-June

Offers: 8
Signed: 5

My agent resolution: increase turnaround time (to respond) on requests and edits

For more insight into Bradford Lit and agent stats, check out my agent-sister Sarah LaPolla's post here on her 2013 in Queries - it's a pretty kick a** post!

Cheers to an AMAZING 2014!