Short story competitions

Dirk has brought to my attention some short story competitions. These are only open to already-published authors so those who have published through Leg Iron Books might be eligible.

I’m not, because they only want authors who have been published in the UK and Ireland, and the novels I had published were put out by an American publishing house. Republishing my stuff under Leg Iron Books doesn’t count – as I am both author and publisher it would still be self-publishing.

For those with a scary story in mind, The Horror Zine will soon be looking for stories for a ghost anthology. Must be a ghost story, must be scary. The general e-zine is horror fiction, poetry and art – the ghost limitation only applies to the anthology. This is a highly rated e-zine and well worth getting into if you can. The details of the anthology aren’t on the site yet. I’ll put up details when they appear. This one takes stories in English from anywhere in the world and welcomes first-timers. No need to be previously published, but the standard has to be really good. New stories only.

Back to the competitions. I did have a moment of wondering at the point of only accepting entries from established authors. That’s no way to find new talent. Still, their gaff, their rules. It does ensure all the entries are from someone who can write to publication standard so they have less filtering to do.

The Sunday Times competition is a big one with a massive prize so you’re going to be up against some really talented writers. You guys can do it though. It’s open to anyone from anywhere but you must have been published in the UK or Ireland. Not self published, not vanity-press (the ones where you pay someone to ‘publish’ you, when all they have really done is print a few copies for you). Leg Iron Books is possibly the tiniest publisher on the face of the Earth but it still counts.

The Sunday Times one is closed until June, they open for entries in June and close in October. Plenty of time to get something really polished up. And if they don’t like it, it’s still useable for an anthology.

The BBC/Cambridge University competition is likely to require you to be politically correct. It doesn’t say that but it’s the BBC and a university so keep the stories leaning to the left or totally politically neutral.

The deadline is 12th March 2018 – just over a month. Read the rules carefully because the first filter for any competition like this is – does it fit the rules? If not, then it’s dumped without reading it. They have to filter the submissions down and that’s the easiest first test. Everyone will do this, it’s not sinister or sneaky, it’s how it’s done.

Sections 2.8 and 2.8.1 are where the publication part comes in. Leg Iron Books fits the criteria for ‘established publisher’, surprisingly enough. It certainly surprised me. However, it means any author published by Leg Iron Books is eligible and I think that includes the anthologies, not just the single author books. Your short stories were published by Leg Iron Books, not by yourselves, and you were paid (almost everyone took it in books but that still counts). Nobody pays to be published here so as far as I can see, the criteria are fulfilled.

Not by me, unfortunately. I can’t go for these unless I get my stuff published by a different UK publisher. The rest of the LI Books authors are okay though.

The Edge Hill University award is a little different. All the others I mentioned want original, unpublished stories. This one wants single-author short story collections published by UK-resident authors during 2017. Mine are not eligible, they’re older and they were self published. The Underdog Anthologies are not eligible. Only Mark Ellot’s Blackjack or SinistrĂ© collections fit the criteria from the LI books so far published.

If you’re not already published and you can write a scary story, the Horror Zine is the best one to get into. The really big competitions are only open to those who are already published and the criteria can vary a lot between them. The prizes, though, are often substantial and worth trying for. Even if you don’t win, you might get noticed.

Just be sure to read the rules very carefully. If you don’t fit the rules, the story is out in round one.

Round two is where they read it.


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