Smart Pop/Dollhouse Essay Contest

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We love Dollhouse. And we know from Buffy and Firefly that Joss Whedon fans are across-the-board smart, insightful, and involved.

So we’ve teamed up with Jane Espenson, Dollhouse writer and Mutant Enemy veteran, to put out an essay anthology on Dollhouse composed entirely of fan-written essays. Everyone, novice to seasoned writer, is eligible to enter; the only requirement is that you are fan of Dollhouse!

Write a great essay on Dollhouse, send it to us, and your essay could be published in a Smart Pop book edited by Jane.

Eighteen essays will appear in the final book, but in addition:

  • One grand prize winner will get $1000
  • Three first prize winners will get $250
  • Fourteen other winners will get $100

What do I do?

Write a 3000 to 4000 word essay that says something fresh, funny, and/or insightful about the television show Dollhouse. Then send it to by February 1 February 15, 2010.

BenBella’s staff will read all essays and send our favorites on to Jane Espenson for final judging.

What’s Smart Pop, and what do you mean by “essay”?

BenBella’s Smart Pop series is a line of smart, engaging essay anthologies on pop culture properties. Read a few of our free daily essays and spend some time clicking around our site to see what we mean!

Our idea of a great essay is one that brings something new to its subject: new insight, a new angle, new information. It’s smart but not jargon-y. It can be serious or tongue-in-cheek, formal or informal, but is always written for other fans–there’s no need to explain who Echo is, or to extensively recap episodes.

One warning: Make sure your essay doesn’t violate copyright. In other words, don’t write from “within” the Dollhouse universe (entries from Topher’s secret diary aren’t allowed), and keep quoting to a minimum. Short, relevant quotes used to support your argument are encouraged; quotes included solely for their own sake are not!

When will the winners be announced? And when does the book come out?

Winners will be announced by April 1, 2010. The book will be published in fall 2010.

Rules for Entering

Your essay must be your own original, unpublished work. Entries must be in a text document attached to an email, with the subject line “Smart Pop Dollhouse Essay Contest.” Both text document and email must include your name, the essay’s title, your email address, and an alternate way to contact you.

Write → Submit Your Essay to → Win

Questions? Email us!


  1. All essays must be received by February 1 February 15, 2010; late entries will not be considered.
  2. No purchase necessary.
  3. Cash prizes will be awarded by June 1, 2010. Winners will be notified by email and/or by alternate contact method. If prize notification or prize is returned as undeliverable, the prize will be forfeited.
  4. While we will accept and consider entrants from countries other than the US and Canada, we will only award prizes based on what is permissible by the laws of each country.
  5. The essays will be chosen by a selection committee made up of BenBella Books staff and chairperson Jane Espenson, whose decisions are final.
  6. We reserve the right to extend the deadline, award, and publication dates if deemed necessary.
  7. By entering this contest, you are agreeing to allow your work, if selected, to be published in a volume of essays on Dollhouse. You are also agreeing to update your essay in accordance with the Dollhouse season two finale if BenBella’s editor deems it necessary. Details of your publication contract are here.
  8. Limit one essay entry per person. Employees and family of BenBella Books are ineligible.
  9. Contest is subject to all federal, state, and local laws and regulations, and is governed by the laws of the United States with venue in Dallas County in the State of Texas.
  10. Income and other taxes, if any, on the value of the prize are the sole responsibility of the winners.
  11. By entering, you also agree to be bound by these rules. Any and all claims, judgments, and awards shall be limited to actual out-of-pocket costs incurred, including costs associated with entering this promotion but in no event attorney’s fees; and entrant hereby waives all rights to claim punitive, incidental, and consequential damages and any other damages, other than for actual out-of-pocket expenses, and any and all rights to have damages multiplied or otherwise increased. Some jurisdictions do not allow the limitations or exclusion of liability for incidental or consequential damages, so the above may not apply to you.
  12. Limitations of Liability/Reserved Rights: Neither the sponsors, nor their parent, subsidiary, or affiliate companies, nor the promotional agencies shall have any obligation or responsibility with regard to (i) entries that contain inaccurate information or do not comply with these rules, (II) entries, prize claims, or notifications that are lost, late, incomplete, illegible, unintelligible, damaged, or otherwise not received by the intended recipient, in whole or in part, due to computer of technical error of any kind, (iii) telephone, electronic, hardware, software, network, Internet, or computer malfunctions, failures, or difficulties, or (iv) any damages or losses of any kind caused by any prize or resulting from acceptance, possession, or use of any prize. The sponsor, in its sole discretion, reserves the right to disqualify any person tampering with the entry process or otherwise violating these rules. The sponsors further reserve the right to cancel, terminate, or modify the contest if the contest cannot be completed as planned because of infection by computer virus, tampering, unauthorized intervention, or technical failures of any sort.

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