Posted by Victoria Strauss for Writer BewareI've gotten a number of questions recently about the Nurmal Resources PUBLISH ME! contest, from authors who've been solicited via email to enter it. (What's Nurmal Resources, you may ask? A new publisher. According to its website, "Nurmal is passionate about developing resources that inspire a new normal in everyday life. We cultivate emerging authors who have a clear life-impacting message, are actively engaged in community life, and are committed to spreading their ideas locally & globally.")
Do you want a 1 in 50 chance of getting published? Enter the PUBLISH ME! Contest sponsored by Nurmal Resources, and you could be published within a few months. We are focused on cultivating emerging authors, and you could be one of them. The winning author will have his or her book published by Nurmal Resources and receive 500 copies of the book plus $1,000 cash toward marketing!The contest is limited to the first 50 entrants. In addition to the prizes mentioned above, winners will receive "professional editing" and distribution on Amazon. All you have to do to enter is to submit a book proposal, a completed contest agreement...and a $250 entry fee. For any contest, even the screenwriting contests with three-figure entry fees, that's way steep. Think about it: do you really want to shell out $250 just for the chance of publication? With a brand-new company? That hasn't actually issued any books yet? (The first of Nurmal's three announced books--all by the same author--won't be published until May.) Since Nurmal is seeking manuscript submissions, and at the moment the only way to submit is via the contest (the submission link leads directly to the contest page), that contest fee looks a whole lot like a reading fee. Perusal of the contest application and agreement form reveals that publication will be done through CreateSpace (something that any author could do him/herself for free). As for the $1,000 for marketing, many entrants might hope that the cash would actually land in their hot little hands, but the wording of the agreement suggests it'll be the publisher doing the spending, not the winner: "We will spend up to $1,000 to market your book based on your recommendations and in a way that we agree upon." Of more concern, the agreement includes a transfer of publishing rights. Although only three finalists will be asked to submit complete manuscripts, simply by entering the contest entrants are giving Nurmal an exclusive, life-of-copyright, all-rights publication grant, with the only provision for termination being the cancellation of the contest (which happens if fewer than 50 entries are received by May 31, 2010). This is yet another example of why it's so important to read the fine print of any contest you're thinking of entering. (It also makes the $250 contest entrance fee look more than ever like a reading fee.) So with this contest, it looks as if Nurmal will gain a pool of potential authors, plus a pool of money for publishing them (50 entrants at $250 apiece adds up to $12,500; deduct the $1,000 for marketing, the $2-3,000 CreateSpace charges for an order of 500 books, and possibly a few hundred dollars for editing, and you're still left with several thousand dollars). Not a bad way to stock and fund a publishing startup. EDITED 4/11 TO ADD: In response to this post, Nurmal has revised its contest agreement form to make it clear that the grant of publishing rights applies only to the winner. The wording of the agreement still makes no provision for termination of the grant of rights, but hopefully that's something that will be clarified in the publishing contract the winner will presumably sign.