SFWA Engages Complaints About Writers of the Future Contest, Delists Anthology as Qualifying Market

Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, which delisted the Writers of the Future anthology as a qualifying market in August, today publicly stated they are also addressing WotF contest finalists’ complaints and concerns — “SFWA Statement on Complaints/Concerns Regarding the Writers of the Future Contest”:

The Board of Directors of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America have unanimously decided to formally and publicly acknowledge the multiple complaints and expressions of concern made both publicly and privately in recent months by former Writers of the Future finalists who state that they have had negative experiences during or after the event.

As a result, SFWA has formally contacted the WotF administrators, in hopes of launching a private dialogue between our organizations, and ensuring that these concerns are meaningfully addressed. In this effort, SFWA’s goal is to protect the rights of creators, thus strengthening all of science fiction and fantasy publishing, now and in the future. SFWA advises all writers to research carefully before participating in any literary contest.

For more information on contests, please visit SFWA’s Writer Beware page located here: http://www.sfwa.org/other-resources/for-authors/writer-beware/contests/.

The status of the Writers of the Future anthology as a SFWA Qualifying Market changed, with little fanfare, in August when the organization voted to strike contest publications as a whole from the list:

Paid Sales.

3. By unanimous vote of the Board of Directors meeting in San Jose, California, on August 16, 2018, contest publications no longer qualify toward SFWA membership*, effective August 16, 2018. Current members in good standing who qualified via contest publications are unaffected by this change.

The Writers of the Future anthology is now included among the “Delisted or Non-Qualifying Markets” on the SFWA website’s Membership Requirements page. (The update reflecting the change was only made very recently. An Internet Archive screencap from December 2 shows the WotF Anthology was still on the list of qualifying markets.)

A general statement about contests has now been added to SFWA’s Membership Requirements page:

*Contests: Hundreds of literary contests, across a vast range of sponsoring organizations, offer paid publication as a prize for selected entrants. Determining whether each of these prizes, each year, meets SFWA’s standard of professional pay rates imposes a burden on SFWA’s employees and volunteers, beginning with its Membership Committee. Moreover, this burden is in the service of publications that never were envisioned by SFWA’s founders as professional qualifications. Like scholarships, fellowships, grants and guest-of-honor laurels, literary prizes are welcome at all stages of writers’ careers, and always to be encouraged, but they do not constitute publishing success in the professional marketplace, the arena which historically has been, and must remain, SFWA’s focus.

5 thoughts on “SFWA Engages Complaints About Writers of the Future Contest, Delists Anthology as Qualifying Market

  1. Interesting to see this. Rather overdue, IMO. My own experiences with “literary contests” have been almost uniformly negative, even considering the ones in which I “won” or placed well. No doubt there are exceptions, but in my evaluation it’s simply not a viable path to consistent pro publication.

  2. @Andrew: Not much, I would think. Criticisms of the WoTF contest have been voiced in the community for decades by now. Any specific criticism that might be leveled against authors who participate has probably since been brought forward. The SFWA statement is so mild that it’s not going to add anything to that debate.

    Mostly this seems to be happening as part of an overall deprecation of literary contests, which (IMO, as I said above) is long overdue.

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