Day One: Looking for writing contests.

Monday Jan. 13, 2014

Got some music playing (Band of Skulls, “Sweet Sour”), baby napping, maybe 30 seconds of “me” time, because you know, once you notice how nice and quiet it is, you’ve jinxed it.

So now to work. I need to find some writing contests. I set my goal at 10 poetry contests and 2 short story contests. Was that too ambitious?

Got my Poets & Writers Mag next to me (I know, I know, there’s the website too, but I’m more of a “book” person than a “kindle” person, if you know what I mean, not that I’m opposed to it, I’ll probably do both. Tangent over.).classfieds

So what do I look for when searching for contests? Here are my thoughts…

1) Submission type (kind of obvious, but still, you must initially rule out if you (ME) have the genre they are looking for). If yes, proceed to step 2.

2) Deadline! Can I make it??? If yes, continue…(if no, then make a big fat (oops, maybe “fat” is not PC, so let’s make that a “large”) X over it so you don’t get tempted to read it again and then realize AGAIN that you won’t make the deadline).

3) Entry fee? Set a budget, and stick to it. I prefer the free contests, but am not opposed to paying a small reading fee for a contest that may be a good fit. And some contests will automatically subscribe you to their magazine/journal if you pay the entry fee. Also, contests with reading fees often offer cash prizes for winners, so you have to conssder if thats appealing enough? Reading fees range anywhere from $5, $10, $15…I usually set aside a budget of $50 for writing contests, so that I don’t have to rule out any contest because of fees, but it doesn’t turn into a huge financial commitment with no guaranteed return. FYI-This is also my typical gambling budget if I go to Vegas (because with three kids,  you totally know how much THAT happens! And how, if and when I DO go, it’s all about the penny slots.). Now that you have your budget, whether $0 or $50 or beyond, continue to step 4.

4) Does the submission get published online or in print? Does this matter to you? If it does, then avoid the online-only publications. If it doesn’t, then send away to any and all that you think may be a good fit.  Then go to step 5.

5) Do they accept submissions  online or via snail mail? SASE is slowly getting phased out, but you should know about it, and buy a small book of stamps (if you even know what those are) and send some work out the old fashioned way, because, why not? (Or by the new definition/usage of the word “because” I could say something like “because obvious.” I don’t know, that didn’t work out so great on screen as it was in my head. And I don’t know if I agree with its new usage anyways.) Move on to step 6.

6) Simultaneous submissions? Can you send the same work out to other contests too? Or do you have to wait to hear back before sending out elsewhere? Depending on how much “finished” work you (ME) have to send out, this may or may not matter to you. Since I’m planning to send out 10 poems, I can choose to set aside a few poems for a contest that does not allow simultaneous submissions, however if you (ME) decides to send out the same set of poems to many different contests, make sure they state that they allow simultaneous submissions, and…should your work be accepted elsewhere, make sure you contact all other editors to inform them of that. You want to be able to submit other work to them at some point, so it’s best to follow good writers’ etiquette.

Oh my gawsh, I am dizzy from reading all those classifieds! Break time. Mommy time out. Just five minutes.

Okay, took a break. And never got back to writing until now. But am feeling so overwhelmed by contests. I guess maybe I will stretch out this task for two days, not just one. But, I have begun the process, and tomorrow will narrow down the list to the top ten plus two (ten poetry contests, two short story contests).

Wish me luck (because this mom is tired and ready for bed and it’s only 5:13 pm, sigh).


2 thoughts on “Day One: Looking for writing contests.

    1. Yes, it can be a bit overwhelming! On the one hand, I’m excited that there are SO many opportunities out there to get published. On the other hand, where do you start??? I’m trying to get a big long list, and then narrow it down as I read through the publications that I’m not very familiar with and find out which ones are the best fit. But with last minute revisions and cover letters and all that jazz, it is not easy to find time to READ all these mags before submitting to them. Another trick I’ve been trying to do is to look at the back of poetry books of poets I LOVE and see where they’ve been published, since those publications may be more up my alley style-wise. And at least if I get rejected, I might get a copy of their latest journal and then be able to read up and decide what work would be a good fit for that particular place.

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