1. Lifeline
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    Lifeline The Dark - not in Wonderland Supporter Contributor

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    Daily mail challenge

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by Lifeline, Mar 23, 2016.

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  2. Witchymama
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    Witchymama Active Member

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    Hmm, I don't know if I am ready yet. Maybe one day.
     
  3. Lifeline
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    Lifeline The Dark - not in Wonderland Supporter Contributor

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    I want to caution all of you.. read carefully through the whole terms&conditions. I have just now done that and I will not enter under these. The one merit this may have is that one agent and 3 editors will read through the 5k/synopsis.

    - no feedback for no one
    - publisher will have option on 2nd book
    - if publisher doesn't want to publish he can convert the winning price into 10 published books
    - no pen-name possible
    - publisher has the right to choose the format for publishing
    - 15% agents fee, is that much? not? *shrug* doesn't really matter
     
  4. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Contributor

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    The T&Cs look fine to me. I mean:

    - Feedback. They will get thousands of entries, and I don't think it's reasonable to expect feedback?
    - Many publishing contracts will have a 2nd book option clause.
    - I think it's highly unlikely that Penguin would refuse to publish it, but I can understand why they want a get out clause in case the standard of entries is really bad.
    - I can't see where it says a pen name isn't allowed?
    - Publishers always choose the format for publishing. You can negotiate, but they can say no. I think, for a £20k advance, it's perfectly reasonable for them to want electronic and print rights, and they will probably exploit both.
    - 15% is a standard domestic agency charge. You won't find a reputable agent (or even a disreputable one) taking less.

    The only bit that would annoy me is that it has to be posted and they won't accept electronic entries. But even then, I understand why they've made it a requirement.
     
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  5. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Yeah, you're right. Read the fine print! This doesn't mean it's a bad offer, for the right person. However, there are a few things that put me off.

    One of the main things that irritated me is the oft-repeated notion that your first sentence has to pack a punch. There is a whole section on this that comes with the contest web page. Geez.

    Of course the beginning has to intrigue you enough to make you want to read on. But that kind of advice tends to make writers think all they need to do is craft a gimmicky start and they're in like flynn.

    Speaking as a reader, if you've already looked at the book cover, read the blurb on the back, etc, you will buy the book if it looks good to you. It doesn't have to launch with some stunning, never-to-be-forgotten sentence.

    As a writer, just start with a bang, or start calmly, but introduce your characters, your scenario, your setting—whatever—in a way that makes the reader want to continue. No gimmicks needed.

    I do wish these advice-givers would pay as much attention to the LAST sentence as they do to the first one. How many times do you read books that start out well and then peter out? I know I've read quite a few of these recently, and I am unlikely to read anything else that author has produced. Leaving the reader feeling unfulfilled at the end is one of the worst things a writer can do. The reader can forgive a slow, but well-written start. They won't forgive a bad or lacklustre ending.

    I think this whole process is getting very skewed, and this contest looks like being no exception. How will the publishers know if the book will be good enough to publish from just reading the first 500o words? The answer is: they won't.
     
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2016
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  6. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Contributor

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    The first sentence/page/chapter thing is a bug bear of mine, too. Obviously they have to be interesting, but so many advice-givers interpret that as some kind of explosive action like a car chase or diarrhoea, has that been done? and some books just aren't the car chasing type.
     
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  7. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Yeah. The three examples the guy gives as ideal openers are:

    ‘Sometimes Jonah Miller hated talking to the dead.’

    ‘Civilisation shares one undeniable truth: the scream of a victim sounds the same the world over.’

    ‘I was making bechamel sauce for a lasagne when I found out that my father had died.’

    Seriously uber-clever twists, eh? Wow, wish I'd thought of that, etc. I only hope the authors can sustain that level of uber-clever right through to the end.
     
  8. plothog
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    plothog Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    The weirdest thing is they've got. A few tips to get you started, such as: Once you have your idea for a story, write yourself a rough outline.

    Are they expecting people who need that sort of advice to submit a novel by the 16th of April deadline?

    E.T.A Oh I've just seen they only need 5000 words and will give you till October to complete the novel. Still I expect the people who need that sort of advice won't win, it'll be someone much more experienced.
     
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2016
  9. NigeTheHat
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    NigeTheHat Contributing Member Contributor

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    This is something else that's understandable in context, for me.

    I mean, let's say they get 1000 entries - which feels like a pretty lowball estimate. Each entry has 5000 words. That's 5,000,000 words to read.

    They're not going to read 5,000,000 words. They don't have a book cover, or a blurb - or a last sentence, come to that. They've just got a stack of entries as high as the ceiling.

    I'd imagine if you're not interesting inside the first two paragraphs - be that because you've got a clever hook or you've blown up the Queen or just have a gorgeous way with a sentence - you're probably just getting dropped.

    I mean, it'd be great if agents and publishers gave books a bit more leeway - though I can still kinda see why they don't, they're busy people and new talent feels like a pretty low priority - but in this contest, 'start fast' just seems like common sense.
     
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  10. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Yeah, I can't argue with that. Start fast if you want to win this contest. But they're promising to publish the start fast's book. Yikes.
     
  11. Lifeline
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    Lifeline The Dark - not in Wonderland Supporter Contributor

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    They are not promising that. They can still drop you and give you a handshake and 10 printed books of your choice of this particular publisher. This is what really annoys me!
     
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  12. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I'd should read the fine print. :)

    But you still get £20,000 for your so-called book, though, wouldn't you? If you win the 5000-word contest? Even if it never gets published?

    I find it interesting that the book doesn't have to be finished yet to 'win.' You just have to get it finished by what ...October? So they won't know what the actual book is like till they have already announced the winner? Just seems daft.
     
  13. Lifeline
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    Lifeline The Dark - not in Wonderland Supporter Contributor

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    No. They will bow out and leave you with the 10 books. That's what the fine print says.
    I understand their reasoning, what if they don't get next years bestseller? But still, they should have come right out and said so and not buried it in the fine print..
     
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  14. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Aye, you're right, @Lifeline . Just looked it up. Well, that's the Daily Mail for you. They sure know how to spin a story.


    16. The winner’s prize is an offer of publication by the Publisher
    in respect of the novel to which
    their entry relates. Notwithstanding anything else set forth in these terms and conditions if, in the
    sole opinion of the Publisher, none of the entries (including that of the winner) are of a sufficiently
    high standard to
    merit the winner’s prize, such prize shall not be awarded but shall instead be
    substituted with ten (10) books of the winner’s choice which are published in the UK by the
    Publisher.
    The runners
    -
    up shall each receive five (5) books of their choice which are
    published in the
    UK by the Publisher.

    .........

    So. Exactly how is this different from submitting to an agent the ordinary way?
     
  15. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Contributor

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    I really don't think that clause is anything to get excited about. Penguin would be mad not to have a get out clause, but they're not going to use it unless they absolutely have to. There's no conspiracy here to fool innocent writers...
     
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  16. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    It's just that this is misleading. I can't think of any other competition that doesn't actually pick a winner, no matter what standard the entries may be. Competitors are in competition with each other, not against some nebulous 'standard.' Judges are obliged to pick the best of the bunch and declare them the winner.

    This advertising implies that the winner will receive a £20,000 book advance if they win the competition, based on a 5000 word start to a story—which doesn't even have to be finished yet. The advertising certainly implies that somebody will win it.

    Then the fine print says, actually no. Somebody will 'win' 10 books of their choice (amounting to no more than £100 and probably less) but nobody will win the £20,000 prize unless their entry is up to publishable standard.

    Again, how is that any different from the normal submission process, except for the 10-book prize? Submit your work and hope that the publisher will decide to publish it? Wheeee....

    I reckon you'd be better off finishing your MS, editing it, then hunting for an agent who represents the kinds of books you have written. Unless you fancy 10 Penguin books to add to your bookshelves, which is the real prize. Or 5 books, if you're a lucky runner-up.
     
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2016
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  17. Lifeline
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    Lifeline The Dark - not in Wonderland Supporter Contributor

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    As I said, this irritates me quite a lot. However, they also explicitely state that one HAS to read the fine print. In fact they require this proof at the first page you send. I am not condoning, but everyone should know if they are required to sign, that one has to read first WHAT one signs.

    For me, this little sentence is reason to seriously consider whether I would enter or not. Have not decided yet.

    The other factor is, that there will be someone who actually reads even the first words. Even if I not win or get considered for this specific contest, there should be at least a chance that these words I send would stay in the back of the agents collective minds.
     
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2016
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  18. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    As I said, this might appeal to some people. And fair enough. But I still think the ad for it is misleading. You have a 'chance' to win a £20,000 book advance, but you have to go beyond winning the competition, and actually get your book sold the usual way. Even if you're 'the winner' you won't necessarily win 'the prize.'
     
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  19. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Contributor

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    I have no stake in this, because I wouldn't be eligible to enter even if I wanted to.

    All I'll say is I think that clause is a simple damage limitation in the case of an absolutely disastrous competition, which will never be enforced, and this opportunity is certainly no worse than querying one of the involved agents directly.

    And good luck to anybody who does enter :D
     
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  20. plothog
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    plothog Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I'd be surprised if they decided to just send someone the 10 books. They'll get enough entries that surely something will be publishable? (though that you don't have to have finished your novel means they'll probably get an even higher percentage of junk than normal)

    Also it's likely the Mail will run a story saying Joe Bloggs was our competition winner from over 2000 entries. Free publicity, and it'll sound quite an impressive feat to the general public, even if reality it won't have been that much different to being published via a more traditional slush pile.
    Makes it more worthwhile for Penguin to give someone a shot.

    I agree it doesn't sound much different to an ordinary submissions process, but then there don't seem all that many routes to having a shot at a big 5 publisher, so for people who are submitting anyway (not me yet) it seems worth a try.
     
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  21. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    The first 5K words of my novel are ready. The synopsis isn't but there's time. And I can be finished by Oct. I am that close.

    Unless there is a residual contract that gives them rights if your novel isn't the one accepted, at most it's fantastic for a 1st book author and at worst it's practice for the next query.

    And I have a second book planned. If book one was published by Penguin, that's very attractive. The advance might be enough I could really cut back on work hours to work on book two.

    Long shot but I'm going to seriously consider it.

    Whoops, never mind. I live in the wrong country.
     
  22. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Contributor

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    @GingerCoffee it's only for UK residents :(
     
  23. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I think an opening sentence just has to be intriguing.

    This was a sentence I complimented in another thread:
    "Jack stared at his broken nails; he found them more interesting."
    That's a killer first sentence because it says so much. It makes you want to know why. That's what makes a killer opening, not that it's action or excitement. It's intrigue you want in that first sentence, mystery, think of those supposed six word stories:
    "For sale, baby shoes, never worn."
    [heads off to work on that first sentence again]
     
  24. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I know, saw that after I wrote the post. :(
     
  25. Nightstar99
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    Nightstar99 Contributing Member

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    Still interesting that Penguin feel that they need to do this to find new writers. I may send one of mine in. At least you have some kind of certainty that at least some of the submission will be read by someone, rather than sent to the shredder.
     

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