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Finding Publications and Competitions for Writers

22 February, 2009

Are you seeking formal recognition as a writer? Then you are probably hunting writing competitions to enter or publications where you can send your work.

How do you find out what’s out there? Don’t limit yourself to making random forays on the Web or using information from a single source, such as a writer’s centre or magazine. A comprehensive source book for writers gives you a wealth of choices.

I’ve listed two kinds below.

Writing yearbooks

Writing yearbooks usually include articles about many aspects of writing and getting published. But their main value is their huge list of contacts/sources:  magazines and newspapers; publishers and agents; writers’ services; awards and competitions, literary events; fellowships and grants, etc. They are usually updated annually.

In the USA, the most popular comprehensive resource book seems to be Writer’s Market. In the UK it’s The Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook and in Australia it’s The Australian Writer’s Marketplace.

Competitions only

Moira Allen’s new book, Writing to Win: The colossal guide to writing contests, provides details about many contests in different categories:  poetry, short fiction, nonfiction, books, romance, and scripts/screenplays.

Competitions for each category are organised first chronologically (month of deadline) and then alphabetically. This arrangement seems helpful because writers can easily find what’s currently open for them. An extensive index makes it easy to locate material.

The competitions listed are mainly American, with a scattering from Australia, Canada, Ireland and the UK. Each listing provides enough information to help you decide if you and your work are eligible. For example, some contests stipulate a geographical area, theme, or type of writing.

Allen includes short helpful pieces about checking a competition’s legitimacy and steering clear of vanity anthologies.

Which one?

Publications: If you’re seeking publication, you’ll probably want to buy the yearbook pertinent to  your local market unless you are trying to get international runs on the board.

Competitions: In choosing a publication that provides information on writing comps, think what best meets your needs and finances. Most contests charge a submission fee, and you need to weigh up the financial outlay (remember the exchange rate) and the number of comps you want to enter.

  • If you are interested in comps and are either a US-based reader or live where the exchange rate is healthy compared with the $US, Allen’s book is a useful buy.
  • If the exchange rate is not so favourable and your funds are limited, it may be more realistic to buy a local writing yearbook.
  • You may decide to concentrate on the local comps but also try your luck in a few overseas ones.  In this case, having both publications makes sense.

If you have any helpful hints about evaluating or entering writing competitions, please comment!

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Marsha permalink
    24 February, 2009 6:12 pm

    Good point. Another element, which Moira Allen covers, is checking if the comp offers only a prize or a prize + publication. Some people’s aim may be to win ANY writing prize (great to put on one’s CV) but they may not be happy if their prize requires having their work published in an obscure magazine or website.


  2. 24 February, 2009 9:15 am

    When you discuss competitions you don’t discuss looking at the prize. This might sound materialistic but if the prize is small and you have to travel a long way to receive it your costs could easily be more than the prize is worth. Then you have to decide if it is worth it to have prize winner on your resume i.e. is it an established, reputable competition that is worth money to have won?


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