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John Howard Reid

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Distributor Declines Write Ways To Win Writing Contests
Tuesday, February 10, 2009  1:10:00 AM

by John Howard Reid



Publishing
A bookshop friend told me today that he'd tried to order the New Expanded Edition of "Write Ways to Win Writing Contests" but was told by the wholesaler that it was neither currently in stock nor expected in the near future. However, the original edition was "still available for $14.99." My guess is that he wants to sell his stock before ordering the new edition. Understandable, but...

 
I made a check and found only a few retailers stocking the new edition of "Write Ways To Win Writing Contests". Amazon has it for $12.50 (see link at the bottom of this Newsletter), while Langtons (which has the best price for the previous edition of $12.93) is selling the new book for $31.73!
 
While it's true that only 5% of the info in the old edition is out of date, the new edition not only reflects the current 2009 writing contest scene, but has an extra 20 pages of useful material including an added chapter on "Maximizing Poetry" entries. So I recommend this new edition over the original book.
 
A correspondent corrected my statement in the last Newsletter that most contests insist on pen-names. In point of fact, what they actually insist is that your real name not appear anywhere on your submission. I always used a pen-name because that's how I always interpreted this rule. My correspondent, however, interpreted the rule as requiring no name at all. Personally, I feel that (provided there is no advice to the contrary) using a pen-name places you at a considerable advantage. After all, the title of your story and your pen-name are the first things the judge sights. A bare title often means little or nothing. A cleverly chosen pen-name can augment the judge's eagerness to read your entry. Just be careful that if you are narrating a story in the first person, your pen-name should be the same as your narrator. And just to be doubly sure that your pen-name bears no relationship to your real name, put it in quotes, e.g. JO'S HEAVEN by "Micaela Morris".
 
Another email I must share with you comes from Ronda Bird:
I just had to send this re your comment in the 2nd Feb Newsletter about writers often being the worst judges of their own work. The following experience confirms your theory.
 
As you may know, Sisters in Crime Australia runs an annual short story competition for female crime writers. I've entered every year since 2000, and each time I've been convinced I'd sent a brilliant story that was bound to win - if not the major prize (The Scarlet Stiletto Award) but one of the category prizes. Whilst I'm delighted to say that I did actually win the Malice Domestic Prize in 2000 and have been short listed twice since then, that's as far as I got with those "brilliant" stories. In August 2008, about 10 days before the deadline, I decided to write something. I had a half-formed idea, but nothing went right, even though I put it away for a few days and went back to it. I did finish it, but wasn't happy with a single aspect of it. I was so disgruntled, in fact, that I wasn't going to enter it, but at the last minute I decided what the heck, at least the $10 entry fee will add to the Sisters' coffers. I told all my friends who asked if I'd entered, as well as myself, that this was the only time I'd sent off an entry that I knew didn't have a hope of winning. You can imagine my disbelief in November when I received a phone call from one of the convenors telling me I'd been shortlisted. I went along to the Awards Night, thinking that's all I'd get - my name mentioned as having been shortlisted. No, I didn't win the major prize, but I did win the Malice Domestic prize again. And they have a panel of judges who all read the shortlisted entries and make a joint decision on the prize winners, so it can't be said that my story just happened to suit one person's taste.
 
As if that wasn't enough - some weeks after I'd sent off that entry I sat down and rewrote/re-edited it, and because I really did think I hadn't a snowflake's hope in hell of it getting anywhere in the Sisters in Crime comp I sent it off to another competition (open theme this time, not specifically crime). Although I thought it was better than the first entry, I still wasn't happy with it, so again I was dumbfounded when a couple of days before the Sisters Award night I received an email from the other competition organizers to say I'd been shortlisted for their competition too. Fortunately they hadn't decided the prize winners, so I contacted them immediately and withdrew my entry.
 
But how about that? One major prize and another shortlisted for a story I thought was the worst I've ever written. And that story was only ever entered twice, whereas some others which I've really liked have got nowhere despite being entered many times. Proves your theory, doesn't it?
 
Thank you, Ronda. Once again my theory that we writers are often the worst judges of the worth of our own work, has been substantiated.
 
So my advice is: Don't stop at one entry, even if you think it's your best work. Send two or three. Or even five or six! This is one of the primary tips in my book, Write Ways to WIN WRITING CONTESTS.

Another tip from my book is to pay some regard to the entries that have won prizes in the past. For instance, it's no use sending an historical story or poem to a contest that has never awarded a prize for such a piece.

Of course, historical work is most acceptable with us. Both The Margaret Reid Poetry Prize for Traditional Verse and the Tom Howard Poetry Contest for Verse in All Styles and Genres, plus The Tom Howard Short Story, Essay & Prose Contest are open for entries. However, the Prose Contest will close on March 31. This year, the prize pool for each of these contests has been increased to $5,350 (including a First Prize of $2,000), yet entry fees remain pegged at $7 for every 25 lines for the Poetry Contests, and $15 for each short story or essay up to 5,000 words in length.

 

You'll find full details of our 2009 Contests at respectively http://poetrycontests.exactpages.com and http://shortstorycontest.0catch.com Alternative sites are http://www.geocities.com/rastar330 (for traditional poetry), http://www.geocities.com/rastar330/poetry.htm (for poetry in all styles and genres) and http://www.geocities.com/rastar330/prose.htm

The full results of the 2008 Tom Howard Poetry Contest will be published in this Newsletter and also online at http://www.winningwriters.com on Sunday, February 15.

"Watching Time", our latest anthology of winning prose, has for the third time almost completely sold out. The good news is that the wholesaler managed to find a few copies and that Amazon has purchased them. So once again Amazon (and Amazon alone) has this book on sale for only $12.95. Please click this link:

WATCHING TIME: Anthology of Prizewinning Essays & Short Stories

Another piece of good news concerns the reprinting of "Mr Christian and the Bag Lady", an earlier collection of Tom Howard Prose winners. This particular anthology has been out of print for years. But here it is, now on sale for the first time at Amazon:

Mr Christian and the Bag Lady: An Anthology of Prize-Winning Stories

Finally,here is the link for the new, expanded edition of my "Write Ways to WIN WRITING CONTESTS". The book has been completely revised, re-written and re-set. Despite all this, and an additional 20 pages of helpful text, the price has been lowered to only $12.50!

Write Ways to WIN WRITING CONTESTS: How To Join the Winners' Circle for Prose and Poetry Awards, NEW EXPANDED EDITION

Happy writing!

John

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