This week’s 1 Thing Thursday: Consider entering a contest!
I finally got traction for my first novel, The Language of Light, when, after it had been turned down by all the major publishers and then stewed in a drawer for an unreasonable number of years, I pulled it out and revised it and submitted it to what is now the PEN/Bellwether Prize. Well, it didn’t win, but it was a finalist, and on the strength of that it was sold to the next editor my agent sent it to. So obviously, I’m a fan.
But here’s the thing: the prize for winning the Bellwether was and is still PUBLICATION by a reputable press. Honestly, a lot of contests will charge you a fee and offer you very little even when you when, which is often a long shot. So I only recommend them if the prize is worthwhile.
I’ve put together a list of contests for unpublished book length fiction (including short story collections) which I believe to be worth the entry fee (if any). Many have as a prize publication of the winner. They appear in reverse alphabetical order (because my formative years were as a W). You’ll have to check for entry deadlines.
- University of Massachusettes Juniper Prizes
- Prairie Schooner Book Prize
- New York Public Library Cullman Fellowships
- The Nelson Algren Awards
- Michigan Literary Fiction Award
- James Jones Fellowship
- Iowa Short Fiction Award
- Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction
- Bellwether Prize
- AWP Awards
There are of course others out there. These are the ones I know to be reputable. Good luck with your entries! – Meg