Thursday, December 17, 2009

Should you enter a writing contest?

A couple of weeks ago, we told you about the Amazon Breakthrough Contest and their new YA category. Well, today Nathan Bransford, literary agent at Curtis Brown, posted his advice about entering contests:

"The absolute most important advice I can give you is this: read and understand the fine print.

Know what you're entering. Know what happens to your work in the event you win (or even/especially if you don't win). Make sure you're completely comfortable with it.

For instance, in the event you win the Amazon Breakthrough contest, are you comfortable with a $15,000 advance and a completely non-negotiable publishing contract? (The fine print says you can't negotiate). Do you want to try for a better deal by going through the traditional publishing route and finding an agent?

There's no correct answer here: it's up to you. But make sure a) you know what happens when you enter/win and b) you can live with it. And think very long and very hard about anything that could tie up the rights to your work. And when in doubt: don't enter."

Read the rest here.


Emilie said...

Anyone who has been published have a comment about the $15,000 advance? Because to someone like myself, with next to no publishing experience except magazines and newspapers, $15,000 from a major publisher looks pretty nice. I've heard, though, that you should try for a lower advance so you get royalties faster, but again...advice from those who've been there?

Joni said...

$15 K is not a shabby advance -- I'm agented and on book 4 and I've yet to get more. (Of course, some authors get 7 figures... and you have to assume that if Amazon picks a winner --they probably reserve the right not to -- they're expecting it to be a pretty big book. An agent would turn a pretty big book into at least $30 K or a multi-book contract or both, I would guess.)

I'd be more concerned about other contract elements, though. (First right of refusal, publication timeframe, paperback rights, sub rights, etc.) Is the contract posted for review in advance?