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SFWA warns beginning writers about scam contest

The SFWA is issuing the following press release about a scam targeted toward aspiring speculative fiction writers:

Writer Beware, a publishing industry watchdog group sponsored by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, shines a light into the dark corners of the shadow-world of literary scams, schemes, and pitfalls.

Fake Contest Alert

This week, a call for submissions in a SFWA-sponsored contest was posted on Craigslist and FLiXER, promising large cash prizes and publication.

Writers take warning: this contest is a fake.

Here’s the fake pitch:

A check for $10 must accompany each entry, made out to “Science Fiction Writers of America.” The mailing address is a “submissions center” in San Diego.

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Inc. is currently accepting science fiction story submissions of no more than 3000 words.

All genres of science fiction accepted. Winners will get published in a Random House book titled “Asimovs of the Future.” The cash prizes for winners are as follows:

1st Place: $10,000
2nd Place: $5,000
3rd Place: $2,000
10 Honorary Mentions: $1000

All winners and honorary mentions will get published. A percentage of the royalties for the book will also be included as part of the prize. The exact percentage has yet to be determined.


I can only imagine the number of hopeful writers who will be enticed by the SFWA name, not to mention the promise of enormous prizes plus a commercial publishing credit. Once again, however: this contest is a fake.

I’ve confirmed this with SFWA’s president, Michael Capobianco, but to anyone who’s familiar with SFWA, the bogusness is obvious. SFWA does not conduct writing contests (and if it did, why would it advertise them on Craigslist, rather than on its own website?). It has no San Diego address.

Its publisher is Penguin, not Random House.

Presumably, the contest is an entry fee scam — though for a scam, $10 seems a little unambitious. One also wonders how whoever is behind the scam plans to cash checks made out to SFWA.

SFWA is investigating. In the meantime, if you’ve entered this contest, please contact Writer Beware immediately at:


David Speakman

David Speakman has spent more than two decades as a writer/editor, photographer, graphic designer and manager of creative teams in broadcast, print and the Internet. His education is in journalism, graphic design, organizational communication and law.
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