June 7, 2011

The Writers of the Future Contest – A Class Act

The Writers of the Future Contest (WOTF) is a class act. If you write speculative fiction (sci-fi or fantasy) and aren’t a pro, then do yourself a favor and submit.

I have been sitting on this for a while, since it wasn’t public, but I recently got my second honorable mention  (2 honorable mentions in 3 tries).  This one is for fun sci-fi adventure novelette called “Ghost Hacker, Zombie Maker”.

Here is what is classy about this contest:

  1. No entry fees, WOTF is the real deal.
  2. The contest is only open to new writers (they have a very specific definition).
  3. Winners get published in a well regarded, widely distributed anthology.
  4. Winners get paid professional rates (above in many cases) for their work.
  5. There is a big, glitzy awards ceremony every year.
  6. Winning comes with a week long workshop taught by professional working writers.
  7. Honorable mention gets you a public mention and a beautiful certificate.

I’ve talked about this before before: it’s tough to break in. It is a long road filled with loads anonymous rejection. This organization treats new writer with respect, but more than that is actively cultivating the next generation of spec-fi writers.

I’ve had a few email exchanges with Jodi Labaqui the, Contest Director. The first time, I just wanted to cry. I had sent just a simple thank-you for letting me know my story had been received. I was shocked to hear back for Joni in the first place, but she replied with such enthusiasm and encouragement that I was moved . The normal vibe regarding submissions is: leave us alone we are just so damn busy. And I get it and I understand it, but with WOTF they have the resources to be more generous with their time. And, when you are just starting out, dealing with the isolation and rejection, that can have a big impact.

Last year Brad Torgersen blogged extensively about his experience and the value of being a WOTF winner (he even went so far as to quantity in dollars–he came up with a $10,106 value, just for the tangibles).  Do you see what I’m talking about? This is an amazing organization and an amazing opportunity.

This may sound strange, but they give so much, I have had concerns about selling to other venues before winning WOTF (and thus no longer being qualified). What they do sounds so amazing , I really, really want to win. Don’t get me wrong, I will take a sale gratefully from any direction, this is just an indication of how awesome it is to win WOTF.

So back to the honorable mention. It is there, clearly, to encourage writers like me. But it is not just an email. It is that, plus a public mention, plus a certificate. See, this is a class organization. Those extra little things really make a difference. Well, it has for me. I have submitted every quarter since I found out about it.

So kudos and thanks to L. Ron Hubbard (who started the contest in 1938, and whose legacy this is), Joni Labaqui  and all the rest of the folks at Author Services (the company behind it all), and the judges who are doing such amazing things for the spec-fi community.

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Robert J. McCarter

Robert J. McCarter is the author of more than ten novels and over a hundred short stories...... learn more

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    1. Kelly, do that. It’s a great venue for new writers. I don’t there there is anywhere else in the spec-fi world that you get treated that well as a newbie.

  1. When you win and go to Los Angeles for the workshop, then you begin to see how much everyone who runs the Contest puts into the workshop, the gala, the judging, and everything else that goes into the event. They really are focused on giving the budding science fiction or fantasy writer the best shot possible, on a more or less level playing field, with as much encouragement as they can. Because Hubbard knew, from his pulp days: the competition in the pro magazines and New York book markets is fierce. The odds are very high, against success. Many talented people quit before they have a chance to shine, because it’s so damned hard to break in. And Hubbard wanted there to be one place in the genre where the newcomer could not just have a shot, but get a break-in sale that they’d remember for a lifetime. Which is precisely what the Contest delivers.

    Great job with the second HM! I got four total before I win. If you haven’t read any recent volumes, do please get your hands on the latest volume. It’s an excellently-done book, and nothing can be better homework for you, when you’re doing your next entry. Each year they select at least a dozen stories which all point the way towards what it takes for a story to succeed with the judges.

    1. Brad,

      Thanks for stopping by and filling in on the details some. It is because of you and your blog that I started entering. I am just trying to pass along the good advice along here.

      And congratulations on all your sales since WOTF. I really loved “Outbound”, great story. It was part of the inspiration for the story I have in for the most recent WOTF quarter. I’m hoping the judges like it (Beta readers responded very well to it).

      And I’ll have to pick up the latest WOTF volume. I am behind on my reading, as usual.

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