I recently learned about a contest, as I'm sure you're quite aware if you follow my blog. If not, please do! It was the Splickety Magazine contest for micro-flashfiction. I may have mentioned another contest of theirs, which is due on the 7th of this month. After I entered that first contest, I learned about another from Reader's Digest - life stories in 100 words or fewer. I also learned that the Chicago Tribune has a yearly short story contest due at the end of January. I did not make it into that one in time.
I'm seeing more and more of them around. So, I thought I would share a few of my findings.
Now, there are some that have fees associated, and I would only enter those sparingly. Writer's Digest had one that had a $50 fee and then gave the grand prize to a previously published work - something that was against the rules. They did eventually remedy it. Needless to say, I will not be participating in that contest again. I feel that if they are asking THAT much money of me, they would actually do their homework. Some contests DO allow for previously published works. Some retain the rights to your work for a year, others for an indefinite amount of time. Still others retain the right to publish your work after the contest, even if it did not win. If that is the case, you could get in trouble for publishing it elsewhere. You need to be aware of the different kinds of rights you have and are giving them, such as "first publication," "digital," and "exclusive." A good place to start is here. Too often, aspiring writers and poets get scammed out of money or rights, but all the information was in the fine print, meaning there's nothing they can do about it. So it is mandatory that you become fluent in legalese and read the terms before entering any literary contest, the same as before you get published. For all you know, you could be allowed unlimited entries into the contest, and here you are limiting yourself to one!
The Writing Site keeps a list of contests you can enter. The individual contests have different requirements, so be sure to look at them before entering.
Winning Writers is an award-winning website for writers. Who knew? They keep a list of fee-free contests updated if you subscribe. Some are even for poems! The link to do so is here:
They ALSO keep a list of contests to avoid, AND give some reasons why to avoid them. I'm sorry to say, but many poetry contests are scams. (I would, for instance, never send anything to poetry.com).
Finally, there is a good database of not-necessarily-free contests, grants, and awards here:
Finding more just takes a little electronic leg work. Have fun entering a few. If you don't win, don't fret! You wrote something! You met a deadline! You're a writer! If the terms allow you, you can send that piece off later after some revisions, or publish it yourself. The important thing is that you keep trying.