For example: writing contests.
For a good example, you have Shock Totem’s semi-regular flash fiction contest (not to be confused with the biweekly for fun one). No entry fee, everything’s straightforward and on the up and up.
For bad examples, not only do you have the Dark Crystal writing contest but you also have things like the Writer’s Digest’s self-publishing award. Yes, entries are closed for this year, but you can totally get fleeced next year!
This is a crappy deal. Let me explain:
There’s the entry fee – and Writer Beware explains the horrible economics of writing contests more efficiently than I could. That’s bad enough.
But to make it worse, the winner’s big prize – aside from the cash – is publicity.
Publicity not with readers, though. Publicity to writers. After all, that’s the market for Writer’s Digest. And add in the deal that F+W Media (the parent company) has with a vanity press… and suddenly this looks less like a contest and more like a way to get a bunch of new customers for their vanity press. Add to it that their partner is “Book Marketing Works”… well, how much you want to bet that each and every entrant is getting a special value package offered to them?
Oh, I could be wrong. But I’m not going to waste my time – or my money – trying to find out.