Typewriter with writing competition words

Competition or cut-price commission?

Many writers use competitions as a way to focus their attention, develop their craft and gain industry recognition, and the proliferation of online publications has resulted in an explosion in the number of potential opportunities for writers in all genres.

Many of these competitions offer writers an opportunity to get their work seen by a wider audience. However, others are little more than money making ventures for the organisers or disguised commissions at less than established industry rates. Worse still, some competitions actually end up costing the writer more than they gain, resulting in the loss of rights and future earnings.

So how can writers tell the difference between a worthwhile or exploitative competition, and how can publishers, producers and others design a competition that is fair to all parties?

WGGB’s new guide Competition or cut-price commission? sets out some key principles and guidance for competitions across audio, books, poetry, short stories, theatre, film and television, as well as providing advice for potential entrants. 

It features case studies and a checklist to help writers make a measured assessment, as well competition organiser dos and don’ts and detailed advice relating to specific writing genres.  

The guide was launched at a special free online event which explored how writers can tell the difference between genuine opportunities and those that should be offering standard industry pay and conditions (you can watch the video of the event on our YouTube channel). 

WGGB President Sandi Toksvig OBE said:  

“It’s no surprise that writers are bewildered by the increasing number of opportunities dangled in front of them, promising fame and fortune, not to mention the guiding hands of ‘experts’ to help hone their craft. 

“This new guide sifts through the good, the bad and the downright ugly to provide a blueprint for writers and competition organisers alike, enabling them to answer the simple question: is this a competition or a cut price commission that should be offering WGGB-negotiated or recommended industry terms? 

“It’s a complex area but WGGB navigates it in a clear, concise and accessible way – taking in topics like rights, rates and much more along the way.” 

Photo: Shutterstock.com/FabioPagani