Think twice before you attempt to promote yourself or your service in the comments sections of what you believe to be similarly-focused blogs.
I probably would never have known about the contest currently being promoted by ShortStoryBook.net, had they not posted this to my Tuesday blog post:
Hi there!(Clue #1 to this outfit's lack of cluefulness: their failure to include actual linkage. I will provide it for them: Short Story Contest.)
Shortstorybook.net is organizing a short story writing contest.
We do think that you too might have a marvelous story to tell, one that is your own! So if you can compose it in not more than few words, we would want to hear from you. Also, you stand a chance to get your story published on our site and win cash prize of USD 100.
“Then what are you waiting for? …put on your thinking cap and get writing. For registration and other information check - http://bit.ly/short-story-contest-2010
The contest runs from August 1 to August 10, is for stories of 400-500 words in any genre (including some you may not have thought of: "The prominent categories for writing are Short Children, Love, Horror, Mystery or Fiction Stories"), and is free to enter. All entries will be published at ShortStoryBook.net, where readers can comment and vote. The story with the most votes wins USD $100.
OK, so it's silly (Short Children?), and the wording leaves something to be desired ("So gather up your pens & paper along with your intangible imagination"), but basically it's fairly innocuous, right? Well...
According to the contest guidelines, "Short stories which are accepted and published on Short Story Book cannot be published on any other site or personal blog." That's a bit vague--does it mean stories can't have been previously published? Or that, if entered in the contest, they can't subsequently be published? In the comments that follow the contest announcement, a would-be entrant requests clarification.
One of the rules mentions that the story may not be published on any or site or blog. Does this mean previously published or published after the competition (or both)? Does the author retain copyright on material submitted?ShortStoryBook.net replies:
1. Yes, previously published short stories on any page on the internet cannot be submitted for this contest.Still puzzled, another prospective entrant asks:
2. If your short story is published on shortstorybook.net then do not retain the copyrights for it. But we really want the world to know that its your story and hence we have asked for 2-3 lines of description about you which will be added below your story and this could even include a link to your blog.
Can you clarify this, plsAnd finally, from ShortStoryBook.net, a straight answer (my bolding):
“If your short story is published on shortstorybook.net then do not retain the copyrights for it. ”
Seems a word might be missing.
Stories once published on shortstorybook.net cannot be published anywhere else [the writer does not retain the copyrights].In other words, there's a provision of the contest that's not specified in the guidelines--a serious contest red flag--and that provision is itself a major red flag: surrendering your copyright.
Bottom line: your understanding of the guidelines of any contest you're thinking of entering needs to be crystal clear. If there's any ambiguity at all, don't make assumptions: ask questions. If you can't clarify to your satisfaction, don't enter.
This goes for passing on contest announcements as well. Don't take announcements at face value; research the contest before you blog or tweet about it so you're sure it's reputable.
Additional red flags at ShortStoryBook.net:
- There's no "About" page, or any information at all on owners or staff (Whois data reveals that the URL is registered from India). You thus have no way of verifying who runs the website or why it exists.
- There's no Submissions page, even though there are stories on the site that aren't part of the contest.
All in all, I suspect that ShortStoryBook.net is clueless rather than evil...but that doesn't make its copyright-claiming contest worth entering.