Thursday, August 28, 2008

You Lose In Kentucky In Perpetuity

An anonymous writer sent this email contest announcement in with the following explanation:

"I submitted my work to be considered for the Gabehart Prize once several years ago, and needless to say did not win.  Now every year like clockwork, I get the contest winner announcement, without ever having submitted again.  I guess I'm just on the general loser email list.  So in essence we just skip over my submission and go right to the rejection notice.  It's really much more efficient this way."

Here's the email, fyi:

Congratulations to our three Gabehart Prize winners, Kelly Bancroft, Lisa Buchanan, and Gail Chandler, who will have an opportunity to read their winning entries during this year's Kentucky Women Writers Conference.

There was some drama surrounding the fiction category. Our judges were deadlocked over two stories, and we delayed announcing a winner for several days. Thinking finally that we would award two fiction prizes, we checked the authors' identities and discovered that both stories, "By Appointment" and "On the Eve of Departure," were submitted by the same author, Lisa Buchanan of San Francisco.

Our winners in poetry and creative nonfiction are:

E. Gail Chandler, Shelbyville, Kentucky, for "One Room School" (poetry)

Kelly Bancroft, Youngstown, Ohio, for "Singer Sewing Machine No. 66" (creative nonfiction)

The Betty Gabehart Prize honors our former director who led the conference during its seminal decade in the 1980s. Three prizes are awarded, and each winner receives $100, two 2-day passes, and the opportunity to read her winning manuscript at the conference.

Registration is still open for conference daytime sessions, taking place on September 12 and 13. You may register online here [] or by calling (859) 257-2874

All best wishes,

Julie Wrinn, Director

Vaughan Fielder, Program Coordinator


John Bruce said...

OK, not to seem repetitious or grouchy, but I looked up the Gabehart Prize, and like most such contests, it requires an entry fee -- in this case, $10. Considering the first prize amount of $100, this raises obvious questions of who gets the vast bulk of the pot -- likely the judges.

We had another published writer who isn't afraid to list his own pubs on a blog post yesterday with the same old advice -- money flows to the writer. That these folks spam you after they've scammed you is really a lesser complaint, it seems to me.

It's hard to avoid the sense that many who send their complaints here haven't taken some basic advice in how to be a writer. I find it hard to sympathize. In fact, W,R would do her readership a service to point them to the Preditors & Editors site.

Anonymous said...

Don't be such a killjoy. Why do you come here to complain and point out the obvious?

Get this in your head, John: A lot of writers find it's useful to pay and submit to contests. They get something out of it. Like what? you ask. Well, let's see, some of them win and get money and a new item for their resume. Others get a subscription for their magazine.

Some feel it is worth supporting these little contests that add to the general possibilities in the world of places to get published or get prizes to put on their resume.

We get it that you don't approve and that you think W,R shouldn't approve, but not everyone sees it your way. So why not get a new song to sing? Otherwise you are repetitive and boring.

Sorry, W,R, to get snippy on your blog, but something about the comment really bugs me on your behalf.

John Bruce said...

I'm curious, though. The blog purports to be about writers wanting to have careers and complaining about one or another unfair or discourteous treatment (like spamming them after they lose a contest).

That particular treatment is entirely avoidable, to wit, by not entering a contest -- clearly in this case one in which the money that "supports" the contest vastly exceeds the money that goes to the winning writers.

In fact, the prize is so low relative to the entry fee that I was scratching my head as to why anyone would enter such a contest -- when simply submitting to a zine is free, as Mario reminded us yesterday. And this also goes against ordinary advice to writers even on fee-charging contests: calculate your odds of winning against the fee and the prize. If the prize is $3000 and the entry fee is $20, maybe this is worth the gamble, at least if you're Mr. Appel. But if the entry fee is $10 and the prize is $100, this sounds like a contest to avoid, even if you believe, like some posters here, that there may be some merit in fee-charging contests.

Do these same posters believe, by the way, in paying either reading fees or various administratie fees to an agent? Or in paying for an editor to "polish" your MS in hopes it will have a better chance of getting published?

What interests me here, again, is how naive many of the posters here appear to be -- not sure if this includes W,R. But if I were W,R, I'd be advising the interlocutors from the past two days to smarten up. Indeed, if heynonny is all bent out of shape because someone's suggesting she's a chump for sending money to fee-charging contests (and maybe fee-charging agents too), perhaps she'd be better off smartening up and using the money for something else.

Anonymous said...

Blah, blah, blah, John. Blah, blah, blah.

Writer, Rejected said...

Many contests are legit for writers who are willing and able to pony up the submission fee because they want the chance to win a literary prize. (As you know, I've won or qualified for Mississippi Review, Seattle Review, and Iowa Review Prizes, among me at the time contests felt well worth the price.)

This particular prize from Kentucky offers you $100 plus 2 free days at the Kentucky Women's Writer's Conference. That is not a small amount of money, especially for people who want to attend writers' conferences and hang out with the literary ladies for a weekend, maybe meet Joyce Carol Oates, whatever. I believe this conference is totally legit.

Also, John, I think you take the complaining from people who write in as serious gripes, when in fact they are (I think) meant to be humorous jabs at those who reject us. It's funny (fun!) that these people keep sending a pseudo rejection/prize winner announcement to someone who hasn't even applied for the prize. Probably, they are really just trying to drum up people to come to their conference. Makes sense, no?

As for telling people what and what not to do, it's not my bag. Sorry.

John Bruce said...

So I'm curious. You have an "unhappy face" emoticon prominently featured on your sidebar. Are you just joking about that? If you and your interlocutors who feel your blog is somehow sympatico are just drumming up support for their local scam, er, contest, why not a smiley-face?

Writer, Rejected said...

Dude: I fear you are so concrete as to be beyond understanding my sense of humor. Frowny face is funny, not literal. A little ironic.

QUIZ: Do you think I'm sitting around and crying in my soup? Or just blowing off some steam on my blog? Or just trying to get a rise out of people? Or just hoping to figure out WTF is up with publishing? Or looking for community? Or....all of the above?

(Hint: Think comprehensively.)

John Bruce said...

Well, here's my question, then. You've won several contests -- great! But the typical writer in such circumstances (like Mario, who posted with comments similar to mine yesterday) has his or her site where he or she makes the work available, if it's free on the web anyhow, lists his or her pubs, and certainly prizes.

A real writer who submits frequently recognizes that different markets have different tastes, but they accept enough of the writer's stuff to take that in stride. I've had a good couple of months (you can check it on my blog), so maybe I'm a little sanguine here.

Whers's your stuff, W,R? My own interpretation is that you seem to attract people like Lilah -- and indeed, sympathize with them -- who basically want to double down on long odds. First win a contest, then use that to get into Princeton or Harvard. And if that doesn't happen -- frowny face! Sorry, I'm just not deep enough to understand that a frowny face is actually a happy face.

Again, W,R, if you're so happy with your writing career, why not post where we can read your stuff the way real writers do?

Writer, Rejected said...

1) Frowny is not happy. Frowny is frowny. That's why it's funny.

2) Real writers, my friend, do NOT publish their stuff on their websites.

They get it published by print and online literary journals, or in books that they write themselves. I have done the latter. However, I do not share my stuff because I am anonymous.

3) Whassup w/ you?

John Bruce said...

I publish drafts on my website. I also publish links to accepted stories on my website, something like ten so far this year.

You? I think you're anonymous because you aren't a real writer.

Writer, Rejected said...

Yep, you caught me! Good work.

Anonymous said...

I've looked at John's website. If I was John, I'd be anonymous, because, man, he is so not a "real writer." His work is just not very good -- it's labored, and uninteresting, a little like his comments here.

Anonymous said...

everyone's being so harsh.

I'll form my own opinions on John and Writer Rejected.