Alert: Screenplay Replay Contest

Posted by Victoria Strauss for Writer Beware

It’s right there in the logo of the Screenplay Replay Contest: the come-on.”Where Your Winning Script Gets a Publishing Deal.”

Here’s more:

In today’s competitive script marketplace, adaptation is king. From The Hunger Games to The Help to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, an incalculable number of blockbuster scripts started their lives as successful books.

So why not give your own spec screenplay a second life as a novel?

Screenplay Replay is an international competition calling for submissions of complete full-length screenplays in any genre. From these entries, one lucky winner will be chosen by our panel of esteemed judges to work with a successful ghostwriter to adapt his or her screenplay into a novel, which will be published through an imprint of F+W Media, and sold through major distribution channels.

This is a life-changing opportunity to become a published author, enjoying an income stream from your book’s royalties!

So, which imprint of F+W Media? The contest guidelines don’t say (they also don’t name the judges who’ll be picking the winner, or the “successful ghostwriter” who’ll be adapting the screenplay). Could it be Adams Media? Or F+W Crime? Or Writer’s Digest Books? Or any of F+W’s many other genuine publishing imprints?

Or could it be Abbott Press, the self-publishing division of Writer’s Digest, outsourced by WD to the much-criticized Author Solutions Inc.?

There are some highly suggestive indications that this is so. Abbott Press is listed as the contest’s sponsor, and it is the provider of all the additional prizes, which consist of Abbott Press publishing packages for four runners-up, and discounts on Abbot Press publishing packages for 25 finalists.

But indications are not fact–so I contacted Writers Store, where the contest is posted, to find out. Their response:

To our knowledge here at the store, yes it will be Abbott Press who publishes the winner.

Which makes the come-on for Screenplay Replay absolutely the most deceptive I’ve encountered recently. Abbott Press is not an “imprint” of F+W. An Abbott Press package is not a “publishing deal.” I think the chances are good that this isn’t even an F+W contest, but an Author Solutions contest (does F+W know its name is being used this way?), designed in large part to draw in new customers. Given ASI’s reputation for hard-sell, cold-call solicitations, what are the odds that all contest entrants will be urged to buy Abbott Press packages? Pretty good, I’d say.

Oh, and did I mention that the entry fee ranges from $50 to $100, depending on when you enter?

The last entry deadline was October 31. I deeply regret that I didn’t find out about this contest earlier, and that this post comes too late to be a warning. It is, however, yet more evidence of ASI’s sleazy promotional tactics–and yet another demonstration of the fact that spending big bucks to enter contests is rarely a good use of writers’ money.