So this is something I’ve been mulling over the past few weeks. This post is more me thinking aloud, in a sense, because I don’t think I have any firm conclusions or answers.
As I’ve mentioned here before, I’ve submitted twice now to the Writers of the Future contest – going so far as to earn an Honorable Mention on the first of those two submissions. I was and am pretty proud of that accomplishment.
Writers of the Future, as you no doubt may be aware, is basically the premiere, most high-profile writing contest for new, upcoming, unpublished and undiscovered SF&F authors. The contest is only open to writers who have published 3 or fewer short stories, and who have not published a work of novelette-length or greater. The prizes are pretty lavish: 3 quarterly winners each year (with first, second, and third prizes of $1,000, $750, and $500, which alone are already pretty generous awards) – and from this pool of 12 quarterly winners a single annual winner is selected, with an additional cash prize of $5,000. That’s a pretty incredible prize. Heck, that’s the same as the median advance for a first-time SF&F novel contract: meaning that Writers of the Future winners are getting paid as well for their short stories as many first-time SF&F novel authors are getting paid for an entire book. On top of this, the 12 quarterly winners are whisked off to a week-long workshop where they’ll learn from and hobnob with the various titans of the industry: established and recognized authors of SF&F.
All of this is unquestionably wonderful. And because it’s open only to aspiring authors who have not yet made it, the contest makes for a great place to test one’s skill as a writer. The entries are judged blind, so the only things in play are the relative merits of the stories that have been submitted and the relative tastes of the judges reviewing them. There’s no personal favoritism. Established and recognized authors aren’t going to get the publication slot simply because of their name recognition and because name recognition sells. So I’ve seen it as a wonderful place to let my work sink or swim largely (although not entirely, as I’ve pointed out before) on its own merits.
But there’s another side to this story, I am beginning to learn.
I’ve long known that the Writers of the Future contest is connected to Scientology. Continue reading