September looks like a busy month.
- PANK magazine has a Big Book contest for full length books (novel or short story collection) with a deadline of 8 September. Top prize is $1000, a $500 dollar publicity campaign, a reading in New York, and you get to judge next year’s contest (I think I might want more than $1000 to take that on). They might publish some runners-up too.
- One of the really big ones; the Manchester Fiction Prize, has a top award of £10,000 for a short story of up to 2,500 words. The entry fee is £18, but the fee can be reduced or waived if you can’t afford it. Last year these people sent me some confused emails right before the announcement of the shortlist, saying they’d lost my entry and could I email them another copy. If it got read at all that late in the process, I have to doubt whether there was time for its intricate beauty to sink into the soul of the reader. Still, they could have just let it go and I suppose I’d have been none the wiser. I suspect that happens. Deadline is 18 September.
Then we have no fewer than six contests with a deadline of 30 September.
- One of the regular Henshaw competitions with a top prize of £200 for a story up to 2,000 words. Anthologies including placed stories are published occasionally. The entry fee is £6 and you can get a critique for an extra £12. These are good value in my experience; pretty cheap and the report gives the impression of being written by a thoughtful, intelligent reader whose suggestions make sense.
- Crowvus, up in Wick, offers a top prize of £100 for a Christmas ghost story of up to 4,000 words. I don’t generally write ghost stories, but I have a couple to hand that I might put a Christmas gloss on. Entry fee is £3 or £5 for two.
- Hammond House offers a top prize of £500 plus an award televised on the enviable local cultural television show. The word count must be between 2000 and 5000 words, on the theme ‘Survival’. This is a good competition, in my opinion; an anthology including lots of runners-up is published annually, so it might be a good way of getting into print. There is a feedback option for an extra £10, but last year I found this disappointing, with the report late and formulaic.
- Dzanc books has a competition for full-length short story collections; the winner is published with an advance of $2,000. The entry fee is $25. This is a small but very respectable American press; if you won, you’re probably not going to get launched into huge fame and wealth, but hey, publication is publication.
- Galley Beggar Press offers a top prize of £2000; the word limit is 6,000, so you’ve got room to spread yourself a bit. The entry fee is £10. This is an excellent small press that enjoyed huge success recently with Ducks Newburyport, which I’m afraid I gave up on after a few thousand words. Galley Beggar ran into financial difficulties recently when a customer who had put in a large order for Ducks, Newburyport went bankrupt owing them a substantial sum of money; but an appeal fortunately rescued them from the brink; we can ill afford to lose publishers like this.
- Finally The Wit to Woo wants twelve Christmas stories, each in the style of a famous author. There are twelve ‘first prizes’, each a twelfth of the total entry fee pot; currently at least £100. The winners will be published in a special anthology inspired by Max Beerbohm’s volume of parodies A Christmas Garland.