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A Writer On Writing: Reader's Digest Competition

Sally Jenkins brings news of a Reader's Digest story competition - and concerns regarding the copyright of competition entgries.

Do visit Sally's Web site which is of interest to both readers and writers http://sallyjenkins.wordpress.com

Reader’s Digest are running a 100 word story competition. Stories should be original, unpublished and exactly 100 words long (99-worders will be disqualified). The title will not be included in the 100 words.

Email your stories to theeditor@readersdigest.co.uk by January 31. The winner will receive £5,000 and the two runners-up a £100 book token each. All 3 stories will be published in Reader’s Digest.

There is also a schools’ section to the competition with the winner in each of the 2 age groups getting £1000 in high street vouchers plus £1000 for the winners’ schools.

Full details of the competition can be found here. http://www.readersdigest.co.uk/magazine/179-Reader's-Digest-Main/1382-Web-Exclusives-100-word-story.html

However; there has been some controversy in writing circles about the terms and conditions of this competition. These state that ‘contributions become world copyright of Vivat Direct Ltd (t/a Reader’s Digest)’.

This means that Reader’s Digest take the copyright of all stories entered, not just the winning stories that are published in the magazine - therefore you couldn’t then publish or enter your (winning or losing) story in a similar competition elsewhere. There has been discussion about this on the Writers’ News Talkback Forum http://www.writersnews.co.uk/writers_talkback/comments.php?DiscussionID=170582&page=1#Item_0, with the participants split between those willing to give up copyright on their story for the chance to win £5,000 and those who thought that writers should never give up copyright on anything without some form of payment or acknowledgement.

Gill Hudson, editor-in-chief of Reader’s Digest, explained the policy to Alex Gazzola http://www.alexgazzola.co.uk/ in the January issue of Writers’ News.

“We’ve had to do it this way beacuse, with the small team we have, and the sheer practicalities of thousands of entries, I don’t think we could run this competition if we had to deal with all the various rights, permissions and queries that could potentially arise.”

You will have your own opinion about whether you want to give away your carefully crafted 100-word story in exchange for a chance at a £5000 jackpot. Personally, I think it’s worth the gamble. I do recycle work that is rejected by its original target market or fails to make the grade in a competition. However, I usually find that the work has to be tweaked in some way before it can be resubmitted, this may mean lengthening or shortening it or changing the tone slightly to fit the new market. I expect this would be the case if I wanted to recycle my 100 word story for another micro fiction market – it may have to be moulded to fit a set theme or again, made longer or shorter to suit the new requirements.

So, I will make a note on the filed copy of my entry, to remind myself to wait until the results of the Reader’s Digest competition have been announced and then (if I lose) to change the story substantially before resubmission.



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