Monday, May 12, 2008

Rules for submitting to awards

A question that comes up amongst writers (after an honest dose of vino), is whether or not they should enter competitions, such as the Australian/Vogel, and still submit the same work to either other competitions or publishers at the same time. With the Australian/Vogel, for example, it says,'It cannot be under consideration to any other publisher or award.' Whilst it is pretty clear what publishers would prefer, is it realistic to tie your work up for so long with only a snowflake’s chance in hell of actually winning that competition or otherwise being taken up commercially? In my case, it’s my last shot at the Vogel before I turn the dreaded 35. I did have a big publishing house editor ask for my novel when it was finished, but I get the gist from other posts on your blog that this isn’t necessarily a ticket to ride either (and it could take some time to find that out). If, at the time of submission, the entry isn’t under [serious] consideration (under offer, as opposed to sitting on a slush pile) anywhere else, is that sufficient? After all, if it looks like it might win a comp, one could withdraw the submission from other places, surely? The goody-goody in me says don’t do it, but the aging realist would like a second opinion.

Entry requirements like that are very restrictive for writers. My inclination would be to say that you should submit it to an award even if it's under consideration elsewhere, and if it makes the shortlist then you should withdraw it from the other place/s. Of course, there's a conundrum there too: if you don't win the award then you miss out on it being considered at the other place/s, with no chance of resubmission unless someone in-house really wants to champion it.

Award rules favour the ruling body - whether that's an award committee or a publishing company - so you should really use your conscience about what serves you best. If you're about to turn 35 then enter the Vogel, leave it at the other publisher for the time being and just see what happens. If you make the shortlist and whisk it away from the other publisher, it's unlikely that anyone at Vogel headquarters will ever find out it had been there all that time. Of course, if you get an offer from the other publishing house, you can withdraw it from the Vogel - and you don't have to say why.

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