Submitting a novel takes a certain amount of focus and effort. It takes time, and brain-space, and most, if not all, of your guts. It doesn’t, in short, leave you a lot of time to do other things, like enter competitions or submit stories to literary magazines, which is a shame; those things are important.
It’s hard to even write a short story, though, when you feel like this:
Sometimes, however, you’ve just got to tell that Muse who’s boss, and get her to start pulling her weight. If you were to wait until you felt in the fullness of your mental and physical health and/or everything in your life was shiny before you put pen to paper, you’d never write anything.
So, in that undaunted spirit, this week I’m beginning the process of submitting work to magazines and competitions afresh. I’ve just stuck my head above the parapet to check out the landscape, and realised I’ve missed a load of deadlines, which is a shame.
But, as is always the case, where one deadline passes another five sprout up to take its place, so there’s never a need for sorrow.
I have compiled a short list of competitions and/or submission opportunities (not exhaustive, just so you know: other opportunities are available!), mainly to help myself to stay focused but also to aid anyone else who might find themselves in the mood to throw their hat into the ring.
Mslexia Women’s Short Story Competition
The Skinny: Stories can be up to 2,200 words, and so long as they’ve never been published before (and they’re written in English), they can be on any subject. Entry costs £10 (sterling) and should be accompanied by a cover sheet, downloadable from the Mslexia website. First prize is £2,000 plus publication in a forthcoming issue of Mslexia.
The Complicated Bits: You have to be a woman to enter, and the closing date is next Monday, March 17th. So, get your skates on!
The Molly Keane Creative Writing Award
The Skinny: Entry is free, and there’s no restriction on the style or length of the short story submitted. You need to download an entry form from the Waterford County Council website and submit it with your story to the Waterford County Arts Office. Peachy.
The Complicated Bits: Entry closes this Friday, March 15th. Sorry about the late notice.
The Moth International Short Story Prize 2014
The Skinny: Stories can be up to 6,000 words, and must be original and not published elsewhere. A €9 entry fee allows you to enter one story, and you may enter as many stories as you like. The closing date isn’t until June 30th, which is good. You can find the rules here, and a link to online entry here. Go on, go on, go on.
The Complicated Bits: There aren’t any, really. Get on it.
The Bridport Prize
The Skinny: Bridport offers a smorgasbord of options. There’s a flash fiction competition (stories up to 250 words); a short story competition (stories up to 5000 words) and a poetry competition (poems up to 42 lines.) A variety of entry fees apply, and you should probably check out the rules, over here. Bridport offers great prizes, and wonderful exposure should you win, or be shortlisted.
The Complicated Bits: Winning is difficult, as the world and his mother tends to enter this competition. It’s reputable, popular and well worth entering, but there’ll be stiff competition. Just so you know.
MMU Novella Award
The Skinny: Have you written, or are you writing, a novella of between 20,000 and 40,000 words? Then, this is the competition for you. The prize is £1,000 plus publication, and the closing date is May 23rd, and the entry fee is £15. So long as you’re over 16 and writing in English, you’re good to go.
The Complicated Bits: Ain’t none. Well, assuming you have a novella in the works, that is. I don’t, so for me it would be nigh-on impossible. For you, though, it may be just the ticket.
The Skinny: If you’re a writer of crime, suspense or thriller novels, then listen up. A.M. Heath, an excellent agency, is looking for an unagented, unpublished crime author for their Criminal Lines prize. Amazingly, the novel you enter doesn’t even have to be finished – but you need to have a clear plan in place for the story. The prize is £1,000, but – better than that – you get to chat to some of A.M. Heath’s super-agents about your work. So, it’s well worth giving this a go if you’re the next Henning Mankell. Details are available over here.
The Complicated Bits: There aren’t any, so long as you have a twisty, nefarious brain which cooks up deliciously dark stories. I don’t. So, um. Good luck, though!
There are literally millions of places to submit your work. Millions. I’m throwing out a few that are on the top of my head, for various reasons, but the following list is by no means complete.
A fabulous wee e-zine which is well worth checking out. They’re looking for submissions for their fifth issue, closing date April 30th.
Possibly the most beautiful literary magazine in the ‘verse. Send them in your stuff, and maybe you’ll see it lovingly and gorgeously reproduced.
The best thing about this magazine is the fact that not only will you see your story in print if it’s accepted, but you’ll also be paired with an illustrator who’ll bring your vision to life.
Edgy and interesting, ‘The View From Here’ is a great place to stop off if you’ve some free time and fancy a read, and also if you have a slightly strange short story looking for publication. Give them a go.
Pretty. Great stories. Wonderful ethos. Check them out!
wordlegs’ remit is wide – they accept poetry, short stories and flash fiction. And they’re lovely people.
You can’t go wrong with The Bohemyth. Always worth a read, and wonderfully produced. As far as I know, their submissions window is always open.
Wherever you choose to send your work, good luck. I hope to see you on a winners’ podium, or in print, in the near future. With any luck, I’ll be there with you. Always remember you have nothing to lose by submitting work to competitions (well, besides a small sum of money, sometimes!); every competition will make you a better writer. And – needless to say, but I’ll say it anyway – never give up.