My story Castrapitheca has been bought by Short Édition to publish in their unique vending machines! (A big hat-tip to Susan O’Neal for tipping me off about this company.) These innovative machines are sited on stations, in libraries and elsewhere; at the touch of a button you can print off a story or poem of a selected length. Though new sites are arriving, there are currently only three of them in the UK (Canary Wharf is the closest to me), but there are lots in the USA and in the company’s original home, France. The stories are also accessible online and mine will also feature in their online quarterly review Short Circuit.
Here’s my look at competitions I might enter with deadlines in December (three are right at the start of the month).
- ‘Language Evolves’ is the theme for a science fiction story competition with a word limit of 2,500 and a deadline of 1 December. It’s free to enter and the top prize is £400 plus publication in the New Welsh Review. The competition is linked with a workshop back in August, but you don’t have to have attended.
- The Breakwater Review at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, offers $1,000 dollars and publication for a story of between 1,000 and 4,000 words. The deadline is again 1 December and the entry fee is $10.
- A rare novella competition is being run by Lucent Dreaming with word count limits of 15,000 to 40,000 words, an unusual opportunity if you’ve got something in that bracket. The deadline is 4 December, top prize is £100, publication and some other goodies. Unusually, simultaneous submission is not allowed, though since there aren’t many novella competitions that probably isn’t an issue. Entry fee £4.
- SF again; the Roswell Award is for stories up to 1,500 words; the top prize is $500, and your story may be read by a celebrity at the presentation. Entry is free and the deadline is 15 December. No fanfic, which won’t trouble me.
- Janus Literary has a competition for stories of 750 to 1,000 words on the theme ‘wild dark sea’. Top prize is $400 and online publication, entry fee is $4 and the deadline is 16 December.
- Staying with the general theme, Wild Words (an organisation that runs retreats, mentoring sessions and so on) invites pieces of up to 1,000 words inspired by one of three uplifting quotes (they actually say four quotes, but I only see three). The winner gets online publication and a one-hour mentoring session with the founder Bridget Holding. Judge for yourself whether that justifies a £7 entry fee. The deadline is 21 December.
- Go west for the Devon and Cornwall International Novel Prize, which calls for your first 5,000 words with a 500 word synopsis. The deadline is 31 December and the top prize is £2000, a trophy and an online publishing contract. The entry fee is £15.
- Finally, Swoop Books, the independent publisher, is running a competition for stories of 1,500 to 3,000 words on the theme ‘Ordinary People’. First prize is £100 and twenty stories will be published in an anthology (a proper paper one, I believe – that’s what I like to see); entry is £5.
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.
- 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.