Last week, I announced a science fiction short story contest, Singular Source. Today, I'm going to write about the prizes and why donations are needed.
There are certain things in life that start out as a good idea and then they snowball. :)
When I started thinking about running a contest, I knew I could offer publication to the winner. I wasn't sure if I needed to offer cash as well. I asked around a bit, but I didn't get a good answer, as I don't have many writers in my social circles.
After talking to Chris Szego of Bakka Phoenix Books, she made it clear that a cash prize would dramatically affect the quality of submissions. Writing fiction is a labour of love. I think it was Frederick Forsythe who said that you can't make a living writing, but you can make a killing. There are a few fiction writers who do extremely well (think Danielle Steel and John Grisham), but there are many more who are toiling away anonymously. We would need some cash prizes to make it worthwhile for people to enter.
Chris also said that the absolute minimum rate that professional authors receive is $0.03 per word. I did a quick calculation: 1 000-word short story would be paid $30. This seemed a pittance to me. Over the last year, I have looked into writing non-fiction magazine articles and doing freelance writing online. While these gigs pay enough to make a modest living, three cents a word is well below even these standards.
I realized that it was within my reach to make a real difference, not just to the winners, but to the science fiction writing community by offering significant prizes. I could have scraped up enough money to pay for some small prizes on my own, but running a fundraiser would get more people involved. This too would benefit the community by growing the pool of receptive readers.
So, I am running a campaign in IndieGoGo (we were rejected by kickstarter). I'm offering some fun gifts for contributing, such as acknowledgement in the book, glossy postcards, buttons, chapbooks, and the final hardcover book. Do me a favour and throw me a buck. It's a gift not just to me, but also to the literary arts.