by NorseGamer, HSM Editor-in-Chief
I’ll let you in on a stretch goal I’ve had in the back of my mind ever since HomeStation started: to completely turn over the front page’s content on a daily basis.
Insane, right? That’s ten new articles per day — roughly five times our current output. And let’s remember that we’re not talking about blatant copypasta of PR announcements; that’s cheap and lazy blogging, whereas we’re focused on long-form literary journalism. Ten new articles per day would be three-hundred articles per month, which at an average word count of about 1200 words per article works out to somewhere between four to five novels’ worth of coverage about Home. Every month.
I know it sounds nuts. But if we rewind the clock a couple of years, no one thought HomeStation itself could work. A correctly structured publication — not a vanity project to serve one person’s ego, but an actual publication, properly structured and maintained, existing as a platform for Home’s most noted artisans to share their works — is a horrendous undertaking, particularly when it’s pro bono. And it only works if enough people share that belief, that vision, and that work ethic to pull it off.
This is one of the reasons why you’ll hear me sing the praises of the HSM team all day long: because they’re the real heroes. They’re the ones who make this work, who bring this phenomenal journal to life. And it’s a privilege for the editors and I to serve them.
The challenge that we encounter, ironically, is that because of HomeStation’s commitment to achievement, potential contributors sometimes shy away from us. Either they feel their work isn’t of sufficient caliber to merit HSM’s attention, or — in rarer cases — they’re not comfortable with the idea of going through an editorial process.
So, how best to overcome this?
The first rule of economics is that people respond to economic incentive. And thus we’ve seen in the past that the easiest way to overcome trepidation and fear of rejection is to offer up prizes to compete for. Because once a new contributor is over that hump — once their byline appears on HomeStation’s front page, and people start responding — that’s when any fear of the process evaporates.
If you’ve seen our previous writing contests, then this one will seem very familiar. The contest will run from Wednesday, September 19th through Wednesday, October 3rd. All articles run during that time period, save for those by HSM editors (Norse, Mike, Cubes, Terra, Seal, Estim, BONZO), are automatically considered contest entries. Winners will be announced on October 8th.
Now, in order to give everyone a fighting chance, team writers and guest contributors will be competing for separate prizes. The top three articles from HSM’s team writers, and the top three articles from any guest contributors (whether they’ve been published in HSM previously or not) will each receive a code for a $20 PSN card. Also up for grabs is an Editor’s Choice award, which will be given to the one article that the HSM editing team feels is deserving of special recognition.
And that Editor’s Choice award is a $50 PSN card.
(All PSN cards are for SCEA Home only.)
So that’s seven prizes, totaling $170 in prize money up for grabs. Not bad for a two-week contest!
Now then, what are the rules to this contest?
It’s basically the same as our previous writing contests. All articles must be at least 900 words in length, except for machinima submissions (which must have at least 200 words). Articles should in some way deal with PlayStation Home, the PlayStation Network, or Sony gaming in general, and subject material should be no stronger than PG-13. Guest submissions should be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org, where they will be screened and either rejected or accepted for editing.
You might be wondering how we pick the “top” three guest submissions and top three team articles. Same as always: unique visitors. We go through the analytics and determine which articles generated the most traffic. So when your work appears in HSM, you want to make sure to tell all your friends to check it out — because that bumps up your odds of winning!
(The only exception to this is the Editor’s Choice award, which is a subjective choice voted upon in private by the editorial team.)
A couple of tidbits: submitting images with your article makes the lives of the editors much easier, and considering how busy they are, that increases your odds of being published. We also strongly recommend running your work through a spellchecker before sending it. And remember the golden rule of HSM: we care less about the subject of the article and more about how the subject made the author feel. That’s where the story is.
In case you want to see a full list of the rules, we’ll have it up in the HSM forum shortly. It’s virtually the same ruleset as our past writing contests of this nature.
Let’s talk for a moment about why you’d want to be published in HomeStation Magazine:
HomeStation is regarded as Home’s literary journal nonpareil. Its audience is expected to top more than 70,000 unique visitors this year. HSM is read by virtually every major Home developer, and has been openly credited with overtly helping to improve at least one major PlayStation Home game. HomeStation is recognized as a platform for Home’s finest artists and writers to creatively express themselves, and our adherence to (comparatively) rigorous editorial standards ensures that the publication’s voice is heard as a reasoned, thoughtful outlet for constructive criticism.
One need only look at some of our past magazine issues, featuring people such as Ralph Baer and Richard Garriott, to see that HomeStation is not just another Home blog. Certainly our most recent issue, which featured interviews with Home developers about content not even yet released into Home, is testament to our level of success. Like The New Yorker, HSM strove to build a reputation as a prestigious place to be published, at least within the Home community. And we have succeeded.
So now we offer you the chance to shine. After all, that’s what HomeStation’s all about: it’s a publication by the community and for the community. And as any of our past competition winners can tell you, there’s nothing like the pleasant surprise of receiving an e-mail that notifies you you’ve won a PSN card due to your HSM article.
From the entire HSM editorial team, we look forward to seeing your work on our front page!