There seems to have been some debate in these forums about a short story writing competition we ran recently and the publishers agreement that we asked winning contributors to sign. If I may be permitted to answer some of the questions and accusations that have been levelled.
Firstly, there appeared to be some concern over editorial control of the stories submitted and that the agreement offered no protection to the writer. This isn't actually the case as the agreement states 'You retain full copyright in your work and are free to distribute, sell, publish or reprint in anyway you see fit. You do, however, give PJM Publishing full editorial control over the presentation of your story in the compilation and of the compilation as a whole.' In short, we are only taking editorial control over the 'presentation' of the story, that is to say, we can unify fonts and font sizes throughout the book and other basic stylistic decisions. It does not give us the right, nor do we request the write, to make rewrites be they major or otherwise. We have in fact returned all the winning entries with what we perceived to be grammatical or spelling errors back to the writer for them to check and edit themselves, as it is perfectly possible that the mistake is deliberate and not necessarily obviously so.
The only rights we are claiming is the right to place your story in the published collection, which was the aim of the contest at the outset. Naturally we would hope that the final book is picked up and sold by as many outlets as possible, wherever in the world that may be.
We are not overly happy that we cannot offer payment or a free contributor copy, but this is purely an economic issue as we simply couldn't afford to do it this early in our existence. By way of meeting our writers half way we have offered the chance to buy number of copies of the book at cost price, ie not making a penny of profit ourselves. We have also placed absolutely no restrictions on what the writers may choose to do with their story after publication with us. They can enter it in any other competition they wish, send it to any e-zine or post it for free on the internet.
The market for short story collections, especially from unknown writers, is pretty small and dwindling year on year. If the book is still selling copies twenty years from now I would be absolutely ecstatic, and would hope that the authors would be too. In reality we are producing a book of stories for a pretty niche market and willbe happy if we manage to recoup what it has cost to run the contest and produce the book.
Please remember that we did not charge any entrance fee for this contest as so many others do. We were perfectly clear on what our plans were from the outset and feel that we have been as fair and balanced as it is in our capability to be.
If any contributing authors who are chosen as winners feel that they could potentially sell their piece elsewhere and that publication with us would impinge upon this opportunity, then they are perfectly free to withdraw their story from the contest (thus far only one has).
I enjoy Southern Gothic stories and sought to promote that passion, while at the same time opening up a potential new market to fresh new writers and adding new content to the titles we have available. If this has been misconstrued through either poor communication or unclear language then I apologise to any whom it may have affected, but with the prevalence of the internet in everything these days, suspicion and rumours circulate like wild fire and can easily injure and harm contests like the one we have run, and severely impact upon our capability to run similar contests in the future.