This morning, a friend sent me a link for a website called theNextBigWriter. For $39.95 a year, or $4.95 a month, you can join this community of other writers and get your work reviewed. Whoever wins the novel competition gets $5000. There are poetry and short story competitions too. With those, I believe you get a contract. The contract just happens to be, so far as I can tell, with theNextBigWriter.com. They'll publish your story on their website, there is a contract, and you do get paid .03 per word. They even have StarReviewers, and I admit that seeing Pulitzer-nominated beside the name of one of those people is a nice thing. But not everyone gets star-reviewed. You only get that if your fellow writers/reviewers choose your work as the best in your category. Not sure if you automatically get the review, or if the website owners then pick who gets reviewed.
I am NOT saying this is a scam. Please don't pepper me with emails suggesting I am. What I AM saying is that I don't think writers need to pay to be a member of a community. There are plenty of free writing communities online. There are contests that get your work in front of acquiring editors and agents (and there's also the old fashioned way of submitting and waiting for rejection/acceptance, though you aren't likely to get comments on what was wrong if you get rejected). Just be aware, before you join something like this, what your options are. If you think you can get value from this site, by all means, go for it. Forty bucks a year isn't a lot, I suppose, and maybe you'll be the one to win the $5000. For me, though, I'll keep writing and submitting the old way. It's worked for all the writers I know, so why mess with the formula?
Oh, and if you'd like to see a sample of the writing that's on this board (so you know where your fellow critique partners are in the process), you'll have to join first. [Correction: you may join as a reviewer, which is free; you can then read stories and see if you'd like to join as a writer (writers pay)] That alone raises my personal big red flag. That's just me though. You may not mind. Let me know how it works out.