Helen from Multi-Story.co.uk has been in touch to tell me that for their latest short story competition, the prize pot has been increased to £500 for the first prize. Second prize is £100 and third prize £50.
The competition has an open theme and a word limit of 2,500. So there’s lots of scope there for writing something new or maybe you’ve got a favourite story which hasn’t got a home yet…
The judge is Amelia Farrell who has written short stories and serials for over 30 years, under various pen names. Have a look at the website to see what she’ll be looking for in the winning entry. But be warned, she says, “… don’t mistake me for some old girl who’s only interested in romance and cosy crime!” So this might not be the place to send a Womag story.
Entry is £5 and closing date is 30th June 2012. See the website for full details. The website also has a page giving pointers on how to improve your chances when entering competitions. Much of it has been said before but it’s always useful to have it drummed home again – especially the ‘Dare to be Different’ motto. Judges have a lot of stories to read and are looking for something that stands out from the rest.
Talking of competitions, I was pleased recently to make the longlist of the Flashbang Crime Story competition. Unfortunately, I didn’t make the shortlist but it was good to know that I’d been in the top 25% of entries.
Write Exposure has launched its first monthly competition. There are 3 categories – short fiction (up to 1200 words), flash fiction (up to 250 words) and poetry. Entry into each category is £4 or you can enter all 3 for £9.
The winner will be showcased on the website for a month along with 3 other ‘honourable mentions’.
Prize money depends on the number of entrants. I couldn’t find it on the website so I contacted Cheslyn Baker, who is running the competition, to find out the ‘formula’ that would be used to calculate the prize. She told me that it would be 25% of the total entry fee received in each category.
The theme for the competitions will change each month. For November it is “I know your face” and the closing date is 30th November.
Please read the full details here before you enter.
In most competitions we never know what percentage of the entry fees was paid out in prizes so this competition is being transparent in that respect. It is also being open about its judging. It will be using a panel of 3, one of whom is a ‘citizen’ judge and any of us can apply to sit in that third seat. See the website for details.
What does anybody think about prize money being 25% of the pot? Is it fair? Can we (the entrants) actually reach a fair conclusion on this question when so many other competitions only advertise a fixed prize rather than a percentage?
There is a lot of work in running a writing competition – including a large amount of administration as well as the actual reading and judging of entries. 100 entries would be required to win £100 – and I’m sure that a lot of competitions offering a prize of £100 receive more than 100 entries so maybe 25% is realistic.
By coincidence I came across another competition recently where the prize money is dependent on the number of entrants. Words Magazine is running a ‘winner takes all’ competition for short stories of up to 2000 words. Entry fee is £3 – so if 100 people enter the prize will be £300 (Closing date is December 31st).
Best of luck if you decide to enter either of these!
Alex Black contacted me last week and asked if I’d give a mention to the poetry competition that his company, PrintExpress.co.uk, is running. So here goes:
- Entry is free!
- First prize is £150
- Poems can be on any theme and up to 45 lines long
- Entry is via email
- Closing date is November 30th 2011
Full details can be found here
So with nothing to lose in entry fees or postage, even a non-poet like me might enter!
Yes, this is my 100th post!
When I started out around 12 months ago I wasn’t sure whether I’d have enough material to sustain a blog for more than a few weeks never mind a whole year - but I’m still here!
Blogging becomes addictive (watching those stats go up and down and wondering if you’ve offended somebody when there are no comments on a post) and it generates a feeling of power (I can write what I like without wondering if it will get rejected by some picky editor).
I’ve found some lovely people online (but I’ve never met you – so maybe you’re really all mad-axe murderers waiting for the right moment to strike!) as we cross-pollinate each others’ blogs.
So to celebrate, here are a few competitions mentioning 100 in their requirements or winnings:
- The Angels and Devils Poetry Competition is offering a first prize of £100 and has a closing date of 31 December 2011
- Each quarter Cheerreader are offering a 100 Euro prize for a humourous short story. The next two closing dates are 15 December 2011 and 15 March 2012.
- Helen Yendall is offering a £15 Amazon e-gift voucher for a 100 word story based on the photo displayed on her blog. Closing date is 31 October 2011.
- And a reminder that Readers Digest are running another 100 Word Story Competition with £1000 first prize. Closing date is 31 January 2012.
Thanks to those of you who’ve been with me since the beginning and a warm welcome to all those who’ve joined along the way. Here’s to the next 100 posts!
Chapter 2 deals with targeting the right sort of competitions to increase your chances of success. Iain and Alison advise a few ways of doing this:
- Forget the big internationals and concentrate on small competitions that will attract fewer entrants. Not many of us are likely to get anywhere in something like the Bridport but we might stand a chance of being placed in a local writing competition. I would much rather win a book token in a small competition than see my entry disappear into the black hole of well-publicised literary contest.
- Choose a competition with a difficult theme – this will put many entrants off because it’s too much of a challenge and a previously written story can’t be recycled to fit the subject. Competitions with an open theme attract the most entrants.
- Try competitions where entry is limited by the rules – for example competitions restricted to unpublished writers or to writers of a certain age or to those living in a specified area
Iain and Alison also advise targeting contests where the entry fee is high compared to the prize fund. This is because we are all naturally mean and therefore the number of entrants will be low. I’m afraid my own natural meanness won’t let me endorse this advice but I can see that there is logic in this method of choosing where to send your work. So if you’re not as tight with money as me, you might want to try it.
And speaking of relatively small competitions (& I don’t mean that in a derogatory way), Bev Morley is running a short story competition on the theme of ‘Christmas’ via her blog. First, second and third prizes are £50, £25 and £10 respectively plus publication in a Kindle anthology, up to 12 further stories will also be included in the anthology. The word limit is 3,000 and closing date 30th September. Entry by email only and the fee is £3. Full details are here.
‘Writing Competitions – the way to win’ is worth a read if you want to increase your chances of success in competitions.
If you fancy a visit to Bath next April, have a go at one (or both) of these annual competitions run by the West Country Writers’ Association:
- Short story competition – the winner will receive £50 in cash and will also be invited to spend one day at the 2012 West Country Writers’ Annual Congress in Bath (20th to 22nd April). Entries must not exceed 1200 words and can be on any theme but must include the words JANE AUSTEN. Entry fee is £5 and the competition is only open to writers who have had no more than 2 short stories professionally published or read on the radio. Closing date 12th December 2011.
- West Country Writers’ Bursary - all aspiring authors are invited to apply for this annual award. The bursary pays for an individual to attend the annual congress, including accommodation for two nights, all meals, which include the annual luncheon, and entry to the AGM and all talks by well-known writers, or others associated with publishing. To apply write a letter outlining your literary achievements so far, your hopes for future success, and a brief explanation of why you would like to attend the congress. No closing date on the website for this so I’d get your entries in early. It is a fantastic prize and all you have to do is write a letter!
Those of you that read this blog regularly will know that I was awarded the West Country Writers’ Association bursary last year and enjoyed a wonderful weekend in a lovely hotel near Plymouth in April. It was a great chance to chat with other writers and learn from their experiences. There is more about my experience here.
Full details of this year’s competitions, including where to send your entries, is here.
- I won the Lichfield & District Writers’ Article Writing Competition (members only) and received the lovely silver tray in the picture. Unfortunately it’s not to keep forever - I will have to hand it on to the next winner. Congratulations to John Walters and Elizabeth Dickerson who came second and third respectively, with articles on listening to the radio as a child and collecting collectibles. My article tried to dispel the many myths around church bell ringing (bats in the belfry, super human strength needed etc etc).
- I was placed third in the Emerald Writing Workshops Novel Opening Competition and received a £10 cheque. These 500 word competitions are run quarterly with a very reasonable entry fee of £1.80 for a £50 first prize. Well worth having a go! The next closing date is 31st August 2011 – check the website for further details.
That’s the good news over with and now the more serious stuff. As many of you will know the women’s magazine fiction market is shrinking and the latest casualty is the one page story in Take a Break (although the Fiction Feast story special will continue to be published). So some womag writers have started a campaign to let the magazines know that we want more fiction. Patsy Collins has put details on her blog about how to use Facebook to voice your opinions to the magazine editors. Alternatively (if like me you don’t ‘do’ Facebook) you could email or write to the magazines’ letters pages. If enough of us make a fuss then maybe it will have an impact and bring back some of those short story markets. Fingers crossed!
The library was full of leaflets for poetry competitions. I only do poetry very badly so I won’t be entering but here are the details for the rest of you:
- Sonnet or Not organised by Cannon Poets. Choose one of the traditional sonnet forms or experiment with alternative 14 line forms. First prize £250 and entry fee is £4 for the first poem and £2.50 for each additional poem. Closing date is 31st October 2011. For full details email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Nottingham Open Poetry Competition. First prize £300 and entry fee is £3 per poem or £10 for 4 poems. Closing date is 6th September 2011. Full details plus last year’s winners are here.
- Torbay Open Poetry Competition. This is organised as part of Torbay Poetry Festival and has a huge £800 first prize plus a Prizegiving Party in Torquay. Entry is £4 per poem or £10 for 3 poems. Closing date is 31st August 2011. An entry form is required and I suggest you use the contact form on the Festival website to request one.
In case you’re wondering – the illustration is William Blake’s poem ‘The Tyger’.
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A couple of weeks ago a follower of this blog contacted me for advice on obtaining a critique for a short story she was working on. Understandably, she didn’t want to pay a fortune and nor she did she want to risk the story being hijacked by someone else.
For a short piece of work like this the critiques offered by competitions are reasonably priced. These include:
- Writer’ Forum - a monthly competition with an open theme and maximum word length of 3,000. The critique is an extra £5 on top of the entry fee. I’ve used this service once and received a one page report covering: Presentation, Title, Opening, Dialogue, Characterisation, Overall. It pointed out my overuse of clichés, incorrect use of the word ‘indiscrete’, problems with characterisation and the fact that the ending was too ‘sudden’. So for £5 I had a lot to work on to improve the story before it went off to another competition.
- Meridian Writing run quarterly competitions and offer a basic critique for an extra £3. This is usually an A4 page in length. They are also offering critiques for noncompetition entries with the fee varying on whether a basic or detailed report is required and the length of the story.
- Flash 500 Competition is another quarterly open themed competition but the word limit is 500. The optional critique is £10. These competitions are run by Lorraine Mace and she also offers critiques on non-competition pieces (any length and including articles and non-fiction books), see here for more details.
A subscription to Freelance Market News includes a free critique on 3,000 words of prose or 120 lines of poetry. It costs £29 for 11 issues and includes free monthly writing competitions plus 20% off entry to The Writers’ Bureau Short Story and Poetry Competition.
Does anyone else know of a critiquing service that is good value?