Recently, I started wondering if some of the short story competitions are fake. I have to warn my audience here that I am not suggesting that all of them are fake. Some may be very real and worth participating in. My concern is rather that I do not know which one of them maybe real.
Let me explain. The short story competition that made me think about this possibility is the one by the Writer’s Digest. The entry price of the short story competition is $25. For this price, all a participant gets is a promise that the story will be read and a generic mass e-mail of rejection, unless the person won, at the end. There is no feedback and no placing of the story amongst the 5200 entries. This made me ask the question: Do they read it at all? What are the guarantees that they really read the entries?
Let’s look at the mathematics. 5200 times $25 is $130,000. Yes! One hundred and thirty thousand dollars! A lot of money to collect from people! In return, they give out $6,350 and a few publications in prizes for all the winners combined. So, they take in $130,000 and give out $6,350 in cash. In total, that is an intake of $123,650 minus taxes. This is a lot of income from one small competition. And, this is not the only competition they run. They also have poetry competition, popular fiction competition and e-book competition, just to name a few.
So, what are the guarantees that they read the stories? Or, better yet, what are the incentives to read them? After all, you can just start reading the pile of stories until you get to the first 25 decently written stories and then stop reading. Why not? You can still keep the money and publish the 25 stories you promised.
I am not suggesting that they engage in this practice. What I am suggesting that the participants who send their stories can never know. There are no feedback and placing. Nobody can be certain that they do as they say. The participants can only hope that they are decent about it.
I have to say that I am very suspicious. I am having second thoughts about participating in short story competitions where the only feedback a person gets is a generic mass email at the end.
For now, I am just back to what I do best: simply, writing.
Anybody has any thoughts about this? Anybody has any bad or good experiences about short story competitions?