This is normally the time of year where I get excited about being a serious glutton for punishment (more than usual) by brainstorming a new novel to participate in the annual Labor Day writing marathon: The 3-Day Novel Contest. I’d start brainstorming ideas, pestering friends to give me feedback during the event, and all in all getting revved up for three days of non-stop writing and creativity.
Unfortunately, this year I don’t think I’ll be participating. When I first started this, five years ago now, I’m almost positive the entry fee was a manageable $35 (it might have been $30, my memory for fees doesn’t go very far). For a contest that only 3 people will win and all anyone else gets is a certificate (if they even finish, which I’m assuming that a lot don’t), that was doable. And on a purely mercenary level, the prizes aren’t all that much: 1st Prize – publication (which these days, isn’t all that difficult); 2nd Prize – $500; 3rd Prize – $100.
It has subsequently gone up almost every year until this year, where the entry fee now rests at $55. This might not seem like a lot of money to most people and in the grand scheme of things, of course it’s not. But for someone who’s working hard to make ends meet, especially in this economy, it’s a substantial hit. Especially for a contest that’s geared towards amateurs. You would think that the people running this contest would take that into account. I’m going to make a completely unfounded generalization here and assume that a lot, if not most, of the entrants aren’t exactly swimming in money.
Sure, there’s plenty of contests where you pay that amount or more with just as little chance of winning. I think the difference in this case, the reason I feel betrayed, is that the people behind the 3DN contest always promoted a sense of community before. It was a race of epic proportions both physically and mentally, but it was fun and there were resources on which to draw. I was proud to say, before collapsing, “I did it!” and come out with the first draft of a brand new novel in three days.
And yes, I understand about them needing to pay bills but really, it’s a contest with thousands of people entering. Even at $35 a head, if only one thousand people enter, that’s a substantial amount of cash. If I remember correctly, there was something like 2000+ entries last year, so multiply that! Has the 3DN contest gotten too commercial or are they getting ripped off by their own vendors? For a contest that claims to be a rebel, they’ve certainly gone mainstream on their entry fee and marketing. As another disclaimer, I don’t know how they run the contest. I’ve never run one and don’t know all the bills/fees involved in doing so. It just seems unlikely that they would have to raise the fee every year for a contest that doesn’t change.
I’ll stop my whining here. It’s not like I don’t write all the time anyhow, because I do. It’s just that it was really awesome to devote an entire weekend, with thousands of others all going at the same time, and know that in the end, we could all stand up and say we did it. I’m going to miss that.
Maybe I’ll start my own one day and give it back to the people by making it affordable. You just never know.