June 17th, 2008


Fake SFWA Writing Contest

Pure Evil

Writer nancyfulda Nancy Fulda reports that there is a fake SFWA writing contest. SFWA is the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, a group of pro SF/F writers -- I don't yet have enough sales at pro rates or a novel published to qualify. They are very unlikely to sponsor a writing contest and certainly not one for large cash award! SFWA has contacted the miscreant.

Info gleaned from elsewhere:
The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Inc. is currently accepting science fiction story submissions of no more than 3000 words. All genres of science fiction accepted. Winners will get published in a Random House book titled "Asimovs of the Future." The cash prizes for winners are as follows:

1st Place: $10,000
2nd Place: $5,000
3rd Place: $2,000
10 Honorary Mentions: $1000

All winners and honorary mentions will get published. A percentage of the royalties for the book will also be included as part of the prize. The exact percentage has yet to be determined.

A check for $10 must accompany each entry, made out to "Science Fiction Writers of America." The mailing address is a "submissions center" in San Diego.


There is no contest sponsored by SFWA. I doubt very much Random House is involved. It is unclear why a Big Contest like this would advertise on Craigslist, etc. This has every smell of a scam -- indeed, it smells a lot like some of the poetry scam contests which have been around forever. How much would you want to bet that somewhere down the line there'd be a change in publisher, and that due to insufficient funding, would the winners want to help publish the anthology...? (evil-grin)

Apology? Are You Nuts?

As I wrote in a comment on the Writers Beware Blog:


This isn't a matter of a simple apology. This person represented themselves as publishing an anthology from Random House, a legitimate publisher, and paying out $27,000 in prize money. If they had no means to pay out the money and no contract with Random House, this is fraud, pure and simple. And if they expected to pay out the prizes from a minimum of 2700 submissions at $10/per, I don't think that a publisher like Random House would sign onto such a fairy tale project.

I figure the person who suggested this was a phishing scam for check routing numbers is close to the mark.

You just can't say "my bad" and walk away freely from abusing SFWA, RH and intending to cheat people. Oh, and Asimov's of the Future? I think the Writer's of the Future might have something to say about that, as well as the estate of Isaac Asimov!

The Lure Of Easy Money

To put some perspective on this, the 800-lb. gorilla of SF/F writing contests is the Writers of the Future, currently in its 25th year. They close every quarter, with four sets of winners. They allow stories up to 17,000 words, not 3000. Their prize money is roughly one-tenth that of this scam -- and they have never had a contest fee. It's FREE.

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. And... can you "mail fraud"? "Federal crime"? Yes, I knew you could. (grin)

Dr. Phil
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