After posting the Story Shares writing contest in the newsletter a couple weeks ago, people wrote me, asking what I thought about the fact those who enter give up payment and rights by just submitting. Because this appeared to be a new contest, I wrote the publication/sponsor and asked if this is truly what they meant. I told them it flied in the face of writers everywhere…and maybe they made a mistake? But this was their response:
<<You have read the terms correctly; we are asking writers who enter the contest to give us the rights to publish their stories widely and for free. This arrangement allows us to fulfill one of our core missions for Story Shares, which is to increase the library of materials available to teens and young adults who struggle with reading. If we only displayed the 5 winning stories, the library would not be nearly as big as it will be under the current terms for the contest.
Since this is a nonprofit initiative, we are not seeking any financial benefit from publishing the stories. We are simply trying to do as much as possible to fill the need for more high-quality reading materials available to the millions of struggling teen and adult readers who need them. In order to do that, we need to retain the rights to publish stories for free. We understand that these might not be ideal conditions for you to publish and will be sorry to miss out on your story.>>
Folks . . . being a nonprofit does not negate the need to pay your suppliers. They will pay the publisher. I guarantee that they pay the website designer and hosting service for the Story Shares site. They have access to grants and sponsors to fund these writers and all else they do, especially riding on the wave of education. Instead of trying to find the funds to pay the writers, they instead take the work for free. And trust me . . . their promotion of you is not going to open many doors.
In a subsequent email, they went on to say they endorse writers and promote them, though they are not paid. They claim to have great relationships with all their writers, saying, in essence, the organization isn’t malicious or gold-digging. However, they are using the contest to populate their program.
I get irritated with some literary journals that do the same thing, but at least those markets are selective and state that some non-winning stories may be considered for publication. Here, however, Story Shares states you give up rights upon submission. They are giving $5,000 in prize money. Why not use that money to pay smaller amounts to all writers who submit, calling it a Call for Submissions? I can tell you why. The substantial prize money is bait to gather more submissions that they can use for free.
Sorry, but I don’t think the Outreach Coordinator (who has published through Story Shares) who wrote me or the founders and CEO of the program are working for free. If they choose to do so, good for them; however, I take issue with the fact they think others should do the same. But somehow…I sense they are getting paid.
If you feel this is a good charitable cause, and wish to donate your work, feel free. But FundsforWriters was founded upon writers earning a living from their work, and therefore, FundsforWriters does not endorse http://www.storyshares.org/ and apologizes for having listed it in a previous newsletter.
BIO – C. Hope Clark is editor of FundsforWriters and author of six mysteries in the Carolina Slade Mystery Series and The Edisto Island Mystery Series. www.chopeclark.com