Thursday, March 29, 2012
A Colorado Gold Nugget by Terry Wright
This is my fifth year running the Colorado Gold Writing Contest for RMFW. It’s hard to believe that much time has gone by. Thinking back to the beginning, I recall how word had gotten out that I’d sold my auto repair business and retired, so Susan Smith and Jeanne Stein asked me if I’d take over for them. They’d been at it for five years, so I figured I could do the same stint.
First and foremost, I’m a businessman. My eye is always on the bottom line. Profit and loss. Red and black ink. Cost v expenses, time equals money. Buy low, sell high. When I saw the contest through my entrepreneurial eyes, utter disbelief overwhelmed me.
The sheer amount of paper the contest volunteers had to shuffle staggered me. The number of people it required to move all that paper, the amount of space it took to store, organize, and stack it, the cost of the materials, the printing, the packaging, the postage, and the hundreds of man-hours, oh my. I went into ‘bottom line’ sticker shock.
Susan and Jeanne helped me survive that first year. Afterwards, I looked at the numbers, put my business experience to the bottom line, and came up with a new plan. Electronic submissions. If other contests could do it, so could RMFW. I told the Board it would take a total revamp of our procedures and that I was willing to do the work needed to usher the Colorado Gold into the 21st Century. They gave me the go-ahead to devise a new, easier, and cheaper way to conduct the contest.
The next year we accepted paper and electronic submissions, a kind of weaning-off-paper process. The third year, we went all electronic. Expenses dropped by 67%. This allowed us to budget in more prize money and fund two new categories: Action/Thriller and YA. Not one penny was spent on paper supplies and printing.
The Colorado Gold is now leaner and keener.
Chris Devlin will be your Contest Chair next year. She’s a 25-year member of RMFW, and she’s judged the contest most every year for the last twenty. This year she’s helping me, learning the ropes, and she’s thrilled to be involved. Thank you, Chris, for stepping up. You're a Colorado Gold Nugget.
Contest opens April 1st. Go to www.rmfw.org/contest for all the details.