Friday, June 21, 2013

Dark Crystal Tie-In Contest

The Dark Crystal was the scariest movie I remember watching as a kid. Well, that and maybe the Last Unicorn are probably tied for being most terrifying children's movie ever.  Heck, I'm almost 40 and whatever these things are still scare the crap out of me.

But, if you're brave enough, and you're interested in writing a tie-in to The Dark Crystal, The Jim Henson Company and the Penguin Young readers Group have an open submission for you!

They're asking for proposals for the prequel to the movie. Submissions should be 7,500-10,000 words and the final book should be around 50k words. It's under a tie-in contract so the prize for the author will be a flat $10,000.  It's not bad, but there are a few things to consider.

Just from skimming the rules, here's some main points. I advise you all to read the fine print.

1. The $10,000 is a one time payout. There are no royalties. This is pretty standard for tie-in novels.
2. You only need to submit a proposal. This is a big bonus. Most first time authors and many who already have a book out still submit on spec, which means they have to complete an entire manuscript before it goes on submission. Only established authors submit on proposal.
3. Here's the kicker (you knew there'd be one) and it's controversial. Whatever you submit will be their property. So if you submit a short story for this contest and don't win, Penguin Youth owns the story.

The last piece is a pretty nasty part of the contract. Everyone's mileage will vary whether they think it's acceptable or not. Personally, I wouldn't submit part of a novel or a quality short story I already had. Remember, after you submit to them, you can't submit that same piece anywhere else.

The contest starts Oct 1, 2013 until Dec 31, 2013. You can find out more about this contest here.

If you're participating, good luck!


  1. I'm not surprised by this. Coming on the heels of Amazon's licensed fan fiction program, I think we'll be seeing more of this sort of thing. But granting of all rights, even if you don't win, is a real problem in my view.

  2. I don't really see it as a rights grab. I think it's just Penguin exercising their IP on the Dark Crystal. After all, you're essentially submitting fan fac and you don't own the content of the fan fiction you write anyway.

  3. I am always a bit leary of contests that take away your rights after the contest ends. I wouldn't want someone to take away the rights to my story even if I didn't win.
    I agree with JeffO

  4. Hmm, on reading Wesley's comment, I realize that, in all the hubbub of going to the DC site and reading the contest rules, I kind of forgot the fact that it is using their world as the foundation. I lost sight of that fact, and it does change my opinion a bit. Still, the notion that they can take what you wrote and use it in any way they choose, and sell it, and you get squat--that bothers me, and I would likely avoid any competition that offered me that deal.

  5. A lot of photo contests require you to give them an unlimited license to your photo, whether it wins or not, so this kind of behaviour isn't limited to publishers. The thing is, there are always enough people who think the exposure will be worth signing those rights away. But there's a saying in the art world: "You can die of exposure."


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