This is topic WOTF; Is it worth it financially? in forum Grist for the Mill at Hatrack River Writers Workshop.

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Posted by Crystal Stevens (Member # 8006) on :
Now let me explain, okay?

Someone posted a link that led to pics of the WOTF awards ceremony. I must say it looked like everyone was having a wonderful time, but I'm not rich by any means. Just look at everyone dressed in tuxes and black evening gowns. I'm lucky to have a single dress in my closet, and my wardrobe is mainly T-shirts and jeans with a pair of well broke-in casual shoes. My only pair outside of my hiking shoes, western boots for when I go trail riding on my horse, and a pair of muck boots for barn chores.

And that's just the beginning. How much would a trip to the ceremony run someone from the Great Lakes area? Airline tickets, a rental car I would assume, motel fees, meals... does it cost the winners to get into the building where everything takes place?

Then there's the cost of a place to stay for a week if you plan to attend the writers workshop that's part of the prize package not to forget all the money from eating out during that time.

All this will wipe out that prize money and then some... if you win. I don't know about the rest of you, but this sure boggles my mind just thinking about it. If I ever do win, maybe I ought to just stay home and accept my check in the mail. Sounds like it could save me a bundle and a bunch of financial headaches.

Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
I don't submit to the WoTF for other reasons---maybe later I'll go into them again---but I've wondered about that aspect of it, too. I don't fly, never having any need to go anywhere far away in a great hurry. And my choice of occupation has allowed me to develop a large wardrobe of T-shirts and jeans---last year, when I needed to attend a memorial service, I had to borrow a suit jacket from my father (a poor fit) and wear an old shirt-with-a-collar, my darkest pair of jeans, and a pair of dress shoes I hadn't worn in nearly twenty years.

I had supposed the WoTF bears some of the travel expenses of the winners---but I really don't remember, if I ever knew it. There are enough people 'round here who send things into them---surely some of them must've read the fine print in the rules and know for sure...

Posted by billawaboy (Member # 8182) on :
Perhaps you could borrow a dress from a friend? Before I could afford my tux, I borrowed my friend's tux for ceremonies.

I'm not sure what semi-formal, formal wear costs for women. I think it's possible to get a nice dress for a $100-200, you have time to raise that kind of money?

I'm in grad school now and can afford to be more luxorious partly cuz of student loans (yay! i'm in debt!), but back in my undergrad days I've had my share of sleeping on friend's floors, in my car, or 'spending the night' with a date, etc.

As far as trips - the above ways still work, but planning a road trip with a bunch a people really helps fray costs. One time on a really long road trip it was 2 cars and 8 of us in a room for a few of days. It cost like 10 per person. We'd all go to the local library or university early, and stay there all day preparing etc., and at night we go back just to sleep or wash up.

Heck if you know friends/writers up there maybe you could ask if you could stay at their house or apartment for a few days. At the awards or workshop i'm sure you could find people to share a hotel room with. If it comes down to it - just straight up ask the WOTF people if there are people who are willing to put you up for a week or so.

If you're really daring - you can sleep in your car and wash up at a fellow winner's room/apartment. Or a restroom...not really recommended.

Food: I've lived off of microwaveble food on sale quite cheaply, or the dollar menus many a time. I have the flavors of ramen and 3 bean soup etched indelibly in to my memory. In college I usually used to park near a university and use the microwaves in the break rooms. If they had a fridge - even better! Fruits and veggies are your friends - easy quick cheap real foods to buy everyday at groceries and carry with you thru the day.

It sound crazy, but you make do, and you work and save up like mad - and one day things will become better, much easier. Until then though, time to suck in that pride and get creative.

Of course friends help. Like the song says "I get by with a little help from my friends." And When you're as broke as I was, a little help from friends went a really long way. And make sure to thank and treat them (i always used to treat ice cream) and offer your home if they ever come down your way. Dedicate a story to them!

It's a humbling experience but it's also a way to make lifelong friendships and know exactly who your friends are and exactly what they are made of.

I hope you win and you find a way to do it all.

Posted by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (Member # 59) on :
When I went, WotF paid for the plane tickets there and back and for the hotel we all stayed in (and Sean Williams, from Australia, was in our group). They drove us around if we needed to go somewhere (besides picking us up from the airport and taking us back at the end).

I can't remember whether we paid for our own food, but I don't remember going out to eat on my own that much or having to figure out where my next meal was coming from.

As for the formal stuff, if you can borrow something sparkly (a rodeo queen outfit would be SO cool, Crystal), you should be fine. That might really be the only expense (unless they ask you to print out and make copies of a new story, if they have you write one for the workshop--they may handle that for you, too, now).

In any case, they do not expect you to use your prize money to pay for anything connected with the WotF events.

Posted by Crystal Stevens (Member # 8006) on :
Thanks everyone for the prompt replies, but I just wondered what to expect, if I just happened to win. Ahhh, I guess I can dream, right?

And thanks Kathleen. I bet there's been others that come from the poor side of the tracks who've won. But like most writers I have an over active imagination that just got wound up, and I ran with it.

Maybe I missed out on things not going to college. Can you imagine a 58 year old woman doing things like that? Not saying I can't. After all I still camp out with my horse. The horse is tied to a hitch rail or in a stall while I sleep on a twin sized air mattress that barely fits in my trailer's dressing room in between the saddle racks. Can't wait for trail riding season to get started again this year and riding with my friends.

Posted by billawaboy (Member # 8182) on :
I know 50 yo starting medical school - anything is possible with a will and a plan. Money helps too!

Ahh i've never riden a horse - probaly never will - injured my back. Never camped either. so many thing i want to try...

Posted by InarticulateBabbler (Member # 4849) on :
The BIG thing about the WOTF contest is that it is the single, most important short story credit in the speculative publishing community. After just sittig through a seminar with Kevin J. Anderson, Rebecca Moesta, David Wolverton (Farland) Eric Flint (and editor for Baen, too) and Brandon Sanderson, I've had this issue pounded into my head: Short story credits are NOT necessary to break into the novel market, but, if you have a WotF win, it ups the likelihood of an editor accepting your submission, because WotF winners have consistently gone on to do well.
Posted by Crystal Stevens (Member # 8006) on :
And that, IB, is the main reason for why I plan to enter it .
Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
The BIG thing about the WOTF contest is that it is the single, most important short story credit in the speculative publishing community.

That statement fills me with mixed emotions.

Posted by snapper (Member # 7299) on :
I understand your angst, Robert, but the evidence clearly shows that IB is correct. You have to look no further than our own Brad T as proof. After his victory in the 3rd quarter last year he sold his non-winning finalist to Analog. Although the high placement in the contest is probably proof that the story is well done, he has suggested his victory in the contest opened a door straight to the editor. Getting past the slush readers is better than half the battle, WotF appeared to allow him to bypass that step all together.

Two writers that I respect have told me that they avoid the contest because of its ties to Scientology. I understand that they had a heavy hand in the contest at one point. I don't know what happened (I suspect a few of those award winning judges had something to say about it) but I believe they have taken a backseat.

I don't know if this is the issue that you have with it, but if it is allow me to put forth a piece of evidence that Scientology has decided to let this be a way to honor their founder and let the contest be about picking the best fiction in Fantasy and Science Fiction.

Two of the judges (Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle) co-wrote Inferno. In it the MC and his guide come across L Ron Hubbard suffering in one of the pits in the 8th circle of hell. His crime? Founding a new religion.

Now how could an organization be that bad to sponsor a contest and let these two blashphemers be judges?

Posted by sholar (Member # 3280) on :
I was a bridesmaid for a wedding once where we were all poor. We went to Ross and picked out dresses for $20. It was so much fun when people complimented them because it was obvious no one had any idea we had bought them that cheap. If you are lucky, you can find some great deals out there. Another option for cheap nice dresses is make friends with a seamstress. This is my Halloween costume for last year (I am the woman) and it cost me under $20 to make. My husband's cost me more like $60 (and was significantly harder to make too). The dress I made for Ren fest was like $30 (skirt, shirt and corset). You can always try e-bay as well.

Posted by Zero (Member # 3619) on :
I'm with Robert, it's overhyped. Like the superbowl... lots of noise, flashy lights, not a lot of substance ... kinda boring.

If it's your thing then hot damn. Otherwise, who cares?

Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
Now how could an organization be that bad to sponsor a contest and let these two blashphemers be judges?

Niven and Pournelle aren't so much being part of it as being co-opted by it. Was Hubbard in the eight circle in Inferno or its recent sequel? I don't recall noticing him either way...

Getting past the slush readers is better than half the battle, WotF appeared to allow him to bypass that step all together.

I hate it when rules are established for me, and then disregarded by others. I get enough of that working for the post office. What's the point in doing it at all if you can be bypassed by "someone who knows someone" and not get in entirely on your own merits?

Posted by snapper (Member # 7299) on :
Hubbard was in the original. They didn't name him, but if you read it again it is no mistakening it is him. He gets flayed right before Henry the VIII loses his head from the demon with swords for fingernails.

And aside from the rule changes. Come on, you think established pro's that get their stuff published in the big three get subjected to the slush readers? Brad T credits his victory in WotF for getting his foot in the door at Analog. Quality of the piece assuredly got it published

Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
Couldn't find that scene in my copies of Inferno, either my old Pocket Timescape paperback edition or a much more recent Orb trade paperback. (Couldn't immediately locate my copies of Galaxy where it was originally serialized and where I read it first.) Did find Henry VIII, but no character around it struck me as being like Hubbard.

On the WoTF, Hubbard, and Scientology...I don't know whether this amounts to honoring Hubbard or a take-over of science fiction. My suspicions tend to the latter. Certainly if it helps people bypass the slushpile I'm entitled to be suspicious. I feel the same way about that as I do about, say, the Ivy League elites dominating politics and the government---an undue and unmerited influence on events and institutions that causes harm to them.

Posted by axeminister (Member # 8991) on :
Robert, are you reading too much into it?
I see it as a high profile credit on a query letter.
Similar to any other pub credit.

If my query letter has no credits I'm slush, but if I place in a premiere writing contest I'm credible and my story is worth reading...


Posted by genevive42 (Member # 8714) on :
I see WotF kind of like working for Disney. It looks great on your resume and that will usually open some doors for you even if you're not fond of the company. At the very least it says that you take your work seriously and deserve a good look.

It's a career stepping stone, most professional fields have them but once you're in it's up to you to prove your worth.


Posted by snapper (Member # 7299) on :
If you look at that scene, Robert (we're talking about inferno). You will see the demon talking about what each person did then slicing them up. He points to a sci-fi writer that created his own religion than confronts Carpentier about how he did the same in his fictional works. Carpentier argues that he does so for entertainment only, a game. Thats when the demon plays a game of tic-tac-toe on Carpentier's chest.
Look at it again. They never mentioned the authors name but if you connect the dots you see that was him.
Hmmmmm, never knew that Inferno (modern version) was first printed as a serial. Love that book.
Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
Ah, I found's a later point than where I was looking at first. Hubbard, all right. (Incidentally, the recent trade paperback, according to the notes within, has a revised text...but I couldn't spot it offhand.)
Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
On query letters---I don't send any. I just send the short MS to market. (No novels for about ten years.) I don't know any of these so-called professional editors personally, and have little reason to enclose a letter that would say no more than "here's the story," which they would know from opening the envelope, if I remembered to put the story in it...and, again, the rule that was laid down when I started was that it's how good your story is, not who you know, and you shouldn't bother with a letter that only takes up the editor's time.

That being said...there were some markets I've sent to, that I realize (in retrospect, often years later) were full of cozy arrangements between the editors and the writers, that published work that was less-than-good. I want no part of that.

Posted by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (Member # 59) on :
What genevive42 said. WotF is a career stepping stone that can give you a publishing credit, but it isn't the only one and it isn't necessarily the best one for every writer.
Posted by InarticulateBabbler (Member # 4849) on :
My comment that the WotF is the most important short story credit goes only to the fact that past winners have a record--known among publishers--of going on to write well-recieved novels. It wasn't that you have to win the WotF. I guess a portion of my comment was overlooked:

Short story credits are NOT necessary to break into the novel market...

Kevin said that he had something like 13 HMs and never won, but it honed his skills and forced him to write by a deadline. Now, he's prolific AND the highest paid Science Fiction author.

Brandon Sanderson never won it--I don't think he even tried--because he focused on novels. He wrote like ten novels before they published Elantris which was like the fifth or sixth he wrote.

Both David Wolverton (Farland) AND Eric Flint won the WotF and they are best sellers, but the contest AND the quality of the entrants have grown.

Joni said herself that sometimes, it just comes down to a matter of taste.

For instance: I was talking to Rebecca Moesta. She asked me if I'd had a story in Q1 and I told her I had. She asked what it was about, and I quickly explained that the premise was a juxaposition between an Alien commandant of a POW camp on earth, and a Human POW who strove to inspire his people to more than simple survival. She said, "I don't remember that story, and that's a HIGH-CONCEPT story. I judged this quarter." When I told her that it only made it to HM (which she hadn't heard when I originally said it) she deflated a bit. I got the impression she would have liked a story like that.

So, you don't HAVE to win--you don't even have to PLACE--to be publishable. It depeds a lot on K. D. Wentworth's tastes for the quarter whether you'll even get a shake, BUT, that's the way of the ENTIRE publishing world. Period.

At the seminar, they all stressed how you shouldn't marry a story or piece of prose. As a writer, you cannot guarantee which story will be bought--no matter what size it is--or when. So, if you ar going to publish, you just have to keep on writing and submitting.

Oh. On the Scientology--which has been beaten to death as an excuse for not submitting--Dave Wolverton is a LDS and he won AND was a First Reader Judge. In fact, I don't know of any judges of the WotF or IotF that ARE scientologists. The only thing religion has to do with this contest is that you should have one for your story.

[This message has been edited by InarticulateBabbler (edited March 28, 2010).]

Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
Are there any science fiction writers that are Scientologists? (Not counting Hubbard.)
Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
Here's something I turned up, just this morning, about certain other activities of the group. Hope the link works.

Posted by axeminister (Member # 8991) on :
That was a fun read.


Posted by InarticulateBabbler (Member # 4849) on :

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