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  • Writer's pictureSheri McGuinn

Reading the Rules

Amongst other things in my email this morning was a link to a short story contest that sounded interesting - writing a short inspired by quantum physics, using a particular phrase. Of course, reading the rules came first. This paragraph stopped me:

"Each entrant further consents to give a royalty-free, sublicensable, irrevocable, perpetual, worldwide, non-exclusive license for the Organizer, the Media Partners, the Scientific Partners and such other partners as may be determined from time to time to use, reproduce, modify, publish, create derivative works from, and display such Submission in whole or in part, on a worldwide basis, and to incorporate it into other works, in any form, media or technology now known or later developed, including any and all Internet media, including the Organizer, the Media Partners, and the Scientific Partners’ web sites and properties and on social networking sites (i.e. Facebook, YouTube, X (formerly known as Twitter), etc.)."

It took a few reads to slog through the legalese, but basically, every entrant gives away all rights to their story forever.

So if I entered and lost, I'd have no right to try and sell it elsewhere. But they could give it to anyone they wanted for any purpose any time - anyone could make money from my story - and I wouldn't get a thing.

I may still write a story based on the prompt - but I won't be entering this contest.

Best Short Stories From the Saturday Evening Post Great American Fiction Contest 2016

I did not get paid for my short story published in Saturday Evening Post's anthology - only the winner did - but they asked for permission after the contest was done, for that specific use, and the copyright stayed with me. The right to publish it elsewhere reverted back to me.

I allowed its inclusion in the Saturday Evening Post anthology for the recognition - and because my mother always wanted to get one of her stories published by them.

So, do read the rules of any contest carefully before investing your time.

Free is not always a good deal.

Sheri McGuinn - I write. Award-winning stories and novels, screenplays, and more.

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