The Annual $5,550 Margaret Reid Poetry Prize for Traditional Verse is now open! And the annual $5,550 Tom Howard Short Story, Essay and Prose Contest is also open for entries!
You've written an inspired poem or an engrossing story! Now you're looking for a good way to get your work noticed. You could send it to a publisher but the chances are that he'll keep your masterpiece out of circulation for two or three years and then send it back!
There has to be a better way. I recommend entering your work in writing contests. But there are pitfalls here too. I deal with almost all of them in my book, Write Ways to WIN WRITING CONTESTS: How To Join the Winners' Circle for Prose and Poetry Awards, If you've been wasting your time and money sending great stories or magnificent poems to Contests that immediately place them in the reject basket, you need to read this book.
For instance, one thing you need to watch is subject matter. While most contests imply that all subjects and themes are welcome, this is far from the case in more than 90% of writing contests. Even if your name is Dan Brown and you send a powerful story to a contest that is actually seeking "literary" fiction, your entry goes straight into the recycle bin.
Similarly, if you send a beautiful poem, based on a romantic holiday in the Bahamas or Vermont or San Francisco or wherever, to any of the somber-subjects-fixated poetry contests that have no time for romance, all you're doing is contributing to the prize pool.
I stress, however, that almost all subjects and themes are prize-winning material for both our Margaret Reid and Tom Howard Contests. If you're not sure, the best way to check on this is to take a look at some of the entries that have won prizes or commendations in previous years. A previous Anthology of such work for The Margaret Reid Prize is SAILING IN THE MIST OF TIME: Fifty Award-Winning Poems (take no notice of the "Fifty". That was actually the title of a previous edition. This edition that Amazon are currently selling for an extremely modest $9.95, actually contains no fewer than 108 poems). Margaret Reid's own book is also available from Amazon: SONG OF THE WAYWARD WIND and Other Poems.
To enter your poems in this contest, you will find full information at http://margaretreid.exactpages.com OR http://poetrycontests.exactpages.com. You will note that although the prize-money has been increased, entry fees remain at $7 for every 25 lines. Unlike all other contests, we impose no limits on the number of lines or number of poems you may submit.
You can also visit the home page of http://www.winningwriters.com and click on the contest at the top left of the screen.
As headlined above, the Tom Howard Short Story, Essay & Prose Contest is also currently open. Again, let me make it clear at once that we are seeking entries in ALL categories, including "literary" fiction, but most particularly we would like to award prizes to popular, everyday, mainstream stories, essays and prose, as even a casual glance at our anthologies of winning and commended entries such as Keep Watching the Skies! An Anthology of Prize-Winning Short Stories will soon make plain.
Although the Contest does not close until March 31, 2010, it's a good idea to start thinking of your entries right now instead of leaving them to the last month or so. Statistics show that, most particularly in prose contests, early entries do have an advantage.
In our contests, the judges read entries almost as soon as they are submitted. Unlike most other literary competitions, we don't wait until the contest closes. So early entries enjoy the obvious advantage of allowing the judges more time to read and evaluate your work. It also stands to reason that a prose entry, written and revised when not under any pressure, will possibly have a greater chance of success than one written in haste close to the deadline.
Another factor, of course, is that at this time of the year, the judges are actually eagerly anticipating and really enjoying your entries. Closer to the deadline, it becomes more of a chore.
This year, the prize pool for both prose and poetry contests have been increased to $5,550 (including a First Prize of $3,000). The entry fee will remain at $15 for each short story or essay up to 5,000 words in length. There are ten cash prizes in all, but the judges do reserve the right to award extra cash prizes if they so desire. For the last prose contest, the judges awarded no less than $500 in additional prizes, bringing the total prize pool up to $5,850 instead of the advertised $5,350!
You'll find full details at http://shortstorycontest.0catch.com
An alternative site (click on the contest at the left of the screen) is http://www.winningwriters.com
As detailed above. one of the key recommendations in my Write Ways to WIN WRITING CONTESTS is that you take a look at some of the entries that have won prizes in previous contests. This will give you some idea of the types and varieties of stories and prose pieces that have won prizes in the past. This applies to ALL contests.
For this Contest, there are, however, two fields the judges would like to encourage: Humorous and comic stories and essays are very much appreciated; and we would very much like to see more genre entries such as mystery and detective stories, science fiction, romance, etc. A science fiction story did win a big cash prize in a recent contest, but we actually receive very few such entries.
So here are our previous anthologies of winning and highly commended entries. WATCHING TIME, our latest short story and essay anthology, has been reprinted, but, alas, only in a limited quantity. However, it is again on sale at Amazon. The price is $12.95, which is good value for a 207-page, trade paperback. The 14 prize-winners include four Firsts, three Seconds, and two Thirds!
WATCHING TIME: Anthology of Prizewinning Essays & Short Stories
Amazon also stock two of our previous collections of winning prose, namely Keep Watching the Skies! An Anthology of Prize-Winning Short Stories as mentioned above, and Mr Christian and the Bag Lady: An Anthology of Prize-Winning Stories
And finally don't forget my own previously mentioned book of tips, hints and other essentials. Amazon are selling the new, expanded edition for only $11.25 (which is considerably less than the original edition, even though the new edition has more pages and lots more valuable information): Write Ways to WIN WRITING CONTESTS: How To Join the Winners' Circle for Prose and Poetry Awards, NEW EXPANDED EDITION