(No, the fact that Koyomi is frowning in that image is not a reflection of my mood, it’s just hard to find screenshots where Koyomi isn’t making a weird face.)
So, we’ve been getting some reprint stories submitted. And it’s easy enough for us to just ask people to exchange a story sent (and worst case scenario we’re entirely capable of issuing a refund, which we’ve done in past), so no real worries there. It happens. And we just sort it out when it does.
But as the same reason for the reprints coming in keeps cropping up, I thought I would just take a moment and clarify our position on what the FoMSSC considers a reprint. Because we do allow some, under the right circumstances (and we’re aware that can get a little confusing):
Now, we do allow stories that have been published/appeared publicly in a language other than English, and that have then been translated into English, to be submitted to the contest. However, any story appearing in English and available publicly is considered by us a reprint.
Specifically, if you’ve self-published a story, or have posted it to your own website prior to submitting it, we can’t take it. If the story appears online, but in a non-public/closed environment, say, for example, a members-only critique group accessibly only via login, or a listserve where you’re sharing works in progress, that’s fine. As long as it’s not publicly available, right?
The reasoning for that has to do with the fact that we judge all submissions blind. Our slush readers and the Final Panel Judges all have to be able to read the work without any kind of bias, or indication of the writer’s identity. And if your story is available online, it’s very easy to find it, either by title or by pulling and searching for text. Conceivably, our slush readers and/or judges may even have already come across it if it’s free to read online or you’ve self-published it.
And because this does tend to come up, we do check all submissions to the contest to make sure we can’t find evidence of it being published or posted anywhere prior to assigning a story to a slush reader. Specifically so that anonymity is maintained across the board and we avoid any potential instance of favouritism. The same reason we ask our slush readers and our judges to recuse themselves from reading/evaluating a story if they recognize the text and can identify who wrote it.
We do apologize for any lack of clarity that happens. We’re aware this is not a universal ruling on what will constitute a reprint (there really isn’t a universal constant for that, but still). Nevertheless, we don’t like creating confusion. And, ideally, despite the wealth of text we’re operating under with the Contest Rules and FAQ pages, we’d like things to be as free of frustration, and as clear, as possible.
A contest is supposed to be fun for the entrants, not a headache.
And to that end: we’re always available for consultation. If you’re not sure about how something works given the rules we’ve set up (we’ve covered a lot in the relevant sections, but we’ll not be able to cover everything), or if you just want to make sure that you’ve got everything in order before you submit, that’s totally fine.
By all means, feel free to send us an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or you can talk to us on Twitter (@fomcontest).
We’re always happy to hear from you.