Competitions - always read the small print



  • I was going to share a book competition on here for a children's book deal. But then I read the regulations. The prize money for the winner is 2500 euros. This reg 21 sounds like a bad deal:

    1. The winner of the prize awarded by Dwie Siostry Publishing House jury, as well as competing participants whose projects are qualified for publishing shall conclude with the Organizer a relevant publishing agreement pursuant to which they shall prepare the book for publishing, transfer their copyrights to the Organizer and receive a one-time compensation.

    Is this normal for book competitions?



  • @sigross Sadly, it seems normal for competitions in general, and often this is the motivation behind offering a cash prize - it's very inexpensive for them to pay a one time fee and gain all rights to the work.



  • @sigross Can you share the link to that book competition? I'm curious now and would like to read the whole thing too. Thanks!



  • @pixel-dsp I think it's this one: https://www.wydawnictwodwiesiostry.pl/clairvoyants_2020/

    It's too bad, because otherwise it looks interesting.



  • @carolinebautista yes that's the competition. I thought it sounded good up until that clause. To give up the rights to a whole book that someone has already produced seems like a massive kick in the teeth. As it looks like they're after finished books.


  • SVS Instructor Pro

    Good catch!
    Yes 2500 euros (currently $3000) is low even for a traditional advance against royalties book offer (although, not unheard of for very small independent publishers). BUT in the case of an advance against royalties offer there is at least the potential for additional revenue if and when the book becomes successful.

    But as noted this is a one time fee for what is effectively a Work For Hire project
    From clause 21:
    The winner of the prize awarded by Dwie Siostry Publishing House jury, as well as competing participants whose projects are qualified for publishing shall conclude with the Organizer a relevant publishing agreement pursuant to which they shall prepare the book for publishing, transfer their copyrights to the Organizer and receive a one-time compensation.

    Note that it does not say "license" (which is what illustrators do in typical picture book contracts) but rather "transfer".
    For more on this concept:
    https://www.dmlp.org/legal-guide/understanding-difference-between-transfer-and-license

    Note: To be fair European countries place an emphasis on the concept of "moral rights" which almost always remain with the creator. But while moral rights allow the creator to be able to legally claim authorship (which Work For Hire in US copyright law strips away), transferring (i.e. "selling") your copyright strips away all financial connection to your intellectual property.

    Hope all that didn't get too deep in the weeds! I'm not a fan of competitions like this, but I want to try and be fair in how badly I paint them.



  • @davidhohn there is a hot debate in France about the "moral rights". Despite the fact it has proved to be very efficient in many ways to protect the artists (I am referring to novellists and movie-makers), most illustrators find it detrimental to them. There has been a real empoverishment of this community over the past decade and the business relationship between publishers and children book illustrators seem to be very different from the USA.

    For those who speak French and are interested in this topic, I can point out to an excellent podcast about it.

    If it interests a larger audience, I could create a thread on this forum and sum up the main features of the current situation and claims of the artists.



  • @sigross @davidhohn it seems this competition is hosted on a Polish website. In the circomstance, euro 2,5k is an awefull lot of money (maybe not to the standard of expensive countries but to the standard of an average Polish worker, it is good!).
    If you're looking for a fair amount of money by your standards, look in the direction of Australia. I heard they pay the best for book illustration!



  • Actually I have a question on international competition : are you taxed in the USA on foreign income? Is it worthwhile to enter international competitions?


  • SVS Instructor Pro

    @Julia said in Competitions - always read the small print:

    For those who speak French and are interested in this topic, I can point out to an excellent podcast about it.

    If it interests a larger audience, I could create a thread on this forum and sum up the main features of the current situation and claims of the artists.

    I would be very interested! I generally understand the concept of "moral rights" but not how they affect (either good or bad) the experience of freelance artists. And of course, in the US they just don't come up that much. At least not in my research or experience.

    Update: Just read your post properly and unfortunately I don't speak French. But I'll take any resources you might have that are in English.👍


  • SVS Instructor Pro

    @Julia said in Competitions - always read the small print:

    @sigross @davidhohn it seems this competition is hosted on a Polish website. In the circomstance, euro 2,5k is an awefull lot of money (maybe not to the standard of expensive countries but to the standard of an average Polish worker, it is good!).

    Really‽ I did the exchange and that how I came up with the $3000. Which in the US is nearly impossible to live on for the time required to create a complete picture book.

    Is there some way to articulate how much this amount would mean in Poland? Like, is that rent for a year? Honestly it seems that it would mean that more European illustrators would want to try and work for US publishers! Or Australian!



  • @davidhohn min wage is eur 600/month and average wage is eur 1,200 in Poland nowadays

    When I was 18, I was earning more as a trainee in France than my Polish friend as a young executive manager in Poland! I think the gap isn't that wide nowadays but it is still a cheaper country than Western Europe

    I don't know for artists - but I believe it depends on the cost of life



  • @Julia Personally, I'd rather take a royalty percentage plus the prize money and keep my copyright. I couldn't handle losing any future rights to earning from licensing the images/illustrations in the book. Like if they started making cuddly toys from my characters and I wasn't getting a piece of that pie, I'd cry!



  • @davidhohn unfortunately I don't know any resources in English...
    Otherwise I'll just summarise (in English) the podcast episode I listened to not a long ago. The speakers were very knowledgeable and explained everything clearly... I learnt a lot!


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