WRITE WAYS TO WIN WRITING CONTESTS
There is no limit on the number of entries you may submit for the annual Tom Howard Contests. I'm often asked if lodging multiple entries is a good idea. When I was writing my guidebook, Write Ways to WIN WRITING CONTESTS: How To Join the Winners' Circle for Prose and Poetry Awards, I always lodged multiple entries, if possible. If the rules allowed three entries, I lodged three. If five, five.
The next question is, will I lodge the entries all together, or will I split them up? Personally, I don't think it's a good idea in a prose contest to lodge more than three entries at the same time. In a poetry contest, it doesn't matter a hoot to submit ten or twenty poems together, but in a prose contest, three entries at a time is fine. More than three at once could weary the judge. Your best story may well be the last, but there's a chance the judge could miss its quality by being tempted to skim through your work at this stage instead of reading it carefully word by word.
So my personal advice is to submit no more than three stories/essays at the same time, and then wait a few weeks or even a month or so to submit another two.
The Tom Howard Contests allow entrants to win more than one cash prize. In fact, this is a fairly common occurrence. Most other contests, however, do not allow this. Therefore submitting multiple entries to other contests could place you at a disadvantage. That's why I strongly advise in my Write Ways to WIN book to check past winning lists. Are there any winners on those lists who were awarded more than one cash prize in any one year?
As headlined above, the Tom Howard Short Story, Essay & Prose Contest is currently open. Although the Contest does not close until March 31, 2011, it's a good idea to start thinking of your entries right now instead of leaving them to the last month or so. Statistics show that early entries do have an advantage.
In our contests, the judges read entries almost as soon as they are submitted. Unlike most other literary competitions, we don't wait until the contest closes. So early entries enjoy the obvious advantage of allowing the judges more time to read and evaluate your work. It also stands to reason that a prose entry, written and revised while not under any pressure, will possibly have a greater chance of success than one written in haste close to the deadline.
Another factor, of course, is that at this time of the year, the judges are actually looking forward to and really enjoying your entries. Closer to the deadline, it becomes more of a chore than a treat!
Last year, the prize pool for the prose contest was increased by the judges to $5,800 (including a First Prize of $3,000), an increase of $250 over the advertised $5,550. The judges are at liberty to do the same this year. However, this is up to them. They will be awarding $5,550 at the very least. The entry fee will remain at $15 for each short story or essay up to 5,000 words in length. There are at least ten cash prizes in all, but the judges, as said, do reserve the right to award extra cash prizes if they so desire. In a recent prose contest, the judges awarded no less than $500 in additional prize money!
You'll find full details at http://shortstorycontest.0catch.com
An alternative site (click on the contest at the left or right of the screen) is http://www.winningwriters.com
Now, this is important, so I'll repeat that a key recommendations in my Write Ways to WIN is that you take a look at some of the entries that have won prizes in previous contests. This will give you some idea of the types and varieties of stories and prose pieces that have won prizes in the past. This applies to ALL contests. For instance, it's no use sending a scholarly essay on "The Influence of Metaphysics on Sunbeams" to a Contest that has never awarded a prize or commendation to a single entry in any scholarly field at all.
For this Contest, there are are, however, two fields the judges would like to encourage: Humorous and comic stories and essays are very much appreciated; and we would very much like to see more genre entries such as mystery and detective stories, science fiction, romance, etc. A science fiction story did win a big cash prize in a contest a few years back, but we actually receive very few such entries.
So here are our previous anthologies of winning and highly commended entries. WATCHING TIME, our latest short story and essay anthology, has been reprinted, but, alas, only in a limited quantity. However, it is again on sale at Amazon. The price is $12.95, which is good value for a 207-page, trade paperback. The 14 prize-winners include four Firsts, three Seconds, and two Thirds! WATCHING TIME: Anthology of Prizewinning Essays & Short Stories
Amazon also stock two more of our previous collections of winning prose, namely Mr Christian and the Bag Lady: An Anthology of Prize-Winning Stories and secondly, Keep Watching the Skies!
Because of copyright restrictions, these books unfortunately will never be available in electronic editions. However there is an e-book for Write Ways to WIN WRITING CONTESTS