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Fiction Contests To Consider

November 8, 2013


There are a range of opportunities available at the moment for writers of fiction looking for worthwhile contests. A bevvy of November first deadlines have passed, but I was shocked the other day to notice how many other contests were still open to the ambitious and the able.

Here are a few:

1. Hapur Palate‘s John Gardner Memorial Prize in Fiction Your entry must be unpublished and shorter than 8000 words–as many stories as you wish. Entry fee is $15 per story and includes a one-year subscription to Harpur Palate. I like this one because you get the all-important subscription for your money and because the magazine is such a stand-out in the field. You’ve got plenty of time to prepare an entry for this one, as the contest opens February 1 and has a deadline of April 15.

2. Closer in deadline is Mid-American Review‘s Sherwood Anderson Fiction competition, $10 entry fee for 1 story up to 6000 words with a deadline of November 15, 2013. Lance Olsen will judge and four finalists will be named. Again, a top-notch university journal to work with. From the slush pile, one’s chances of regular acceptance are like one in a thousand. For a contest, one’s chances of being recognized by the journal (publication or nomination) are exponentially better!

I would not now add the Tennessee Williams Literary Festival Award (here’s advice based on negative experience) because I applied to it last year in fiction and felt that my money (a steep fee of over $20) was simply taken and BOOM, that was it. It didn’t really feel like I was part of a contest. I don’t recall even getting a response to tell me I was not selected or anything. Avoid this one. Unless my experience was unique and others here would like to vouch for this one.  Even so, I’d still need an exculpatory rationale for my bad experience–how do you not reply to someone who slips you a Benjamin?

3. Baltimore Review‘s Annual Winter Contest has a theme this year of “the Future.” $10 entry fee, 3,000-word limit for fiction, deadline of November 30. Again, a wonderful magazine with great editors, and here the fiction word limit is low enough to appeal to flash writers as well.

4. One of my favorite upcoming contests is Quarter After Eight‘s Robert J. DeMott Short Prose Contest because this is one for flash writers: three previously unpublished pieces of 500 words or fewer; entry fee is $15 for three pieces and includes a complimentary one-year subscription to the journal; deadline is November 30.

5. I’m a fan of the journal the Yemassee and I will forever be indebted to their William Richey Short Fiction Contest for naming me as one of their finalists last year– a career milestone for any writer. The guest judge this year is Emily St. John Mandel; unpublished story or novel excerpt of up to 10,000 words in length with an entry fee of $10; deadline of November 22.

6. Then there’s the Schlafly Micro-brew Micro-fiction Contest, which I submitted to last year and will again this year. In fact, I feel compelled to submit to them, shamefully, because they offer their winners not only money but beer. “A prize of $1,500 and publication in River Styx is given annually for a short short story. The winner also receives a case of Schlafly microbrewed beer. Submit up to three stories of no more than 500 words each with a $20 entry fee, which includes a one-year subscription to River Styx, by December 31.”

  1. Michael Andreoni permalink

    This is very helpful. It’s hard to know which contests are worth entering. Seems like every publication has a contest these days.

    • That’s true. And not all publications are equal. The ones listed here are tried and true. Also, the fees associated here are not high–that’s important. I would not easily shell out too much more than say $15 to any contest and would never do so without something else in return for my money than the near certainty of rejection, like say, a subscription.

      I’m looking to get my subscriptions subsidized by my health care coverage. It seems my sociologist just prescribed healthy doses of poetry therapy to repair the rents drafting my gulliver.

  2. I was actually a finalist in the River Styx contest last year. It was horribly disappointing – I really wanted that beer!

  3. You’re a precious source of infos, as usual. Thank you!

  4. Good hints, thanks a lot for sharing!

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