Stephen King short fiction competition

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I've not posted often lately, so when I do, I try not to be a stick-in-the-mud. However, having seen the prize (a seat at a Guardian Writer's Masterclass) I've decided that there's no point in entering, as the juice isn't worth the squeeze.
Can you imagine the volume of response they are going to get?
Four thousand words - those are long stories. How much time do you think the sifting judges will get? Their brief will be "skim as many stories as you can and look for a reason - any reason at all - to reject it at get on to the next."
You'll be notified if you're shortlisted. (Good luck with that) and the winner will be able to claim what is obviously a massive accolade. But, when considering the time taken... Maybe if you have a 4k story sitting on a peg that meets the exact brief it would be worth a shot, but still... There is no second prize.
As for the Master class thing. I loathe the fact that the Guardian (who are well aware how much money books are expected to make these days) still happily charge thousands (literally) of pounds for their writers' classes. They have created an industry with the sole purpose of monetising the slush pile and they deserve a good public kicking.
 
I've not posted often lately, so when I do, I try not to be a stick-in-the-mud. However, having seen the prize (a seat at a Guardian Writer's Masterclass) I've decided that there's no point in entering, as the juice isn't worth the squeeze.
Can you imagine the volume of response they are going to get?
Four thousand words - those are long stories. How much time do you think the sifting judges will get? Their brief will be "skim as many stories as you can and look for a reason - any reason at all - to reject it at get on to the next."
You'll be notified if you're shortlisted. (Good luck with that) and the winner will be able to claim what is obviously a massive accolade. But, when considering the time taken... Maybe if you have a 4k story sitting on a peg that meets the exact brief it would be worth a shot, but still... There is no second prize.
As for the Master class thing. I loathe the fact that the Guardian (who are well aware how much money books are expected to make these days) still happily charge thousands (literally) of pounds for their writers' classes. They have created an industry with the sole purpose of monetising the slush pile and they deserve a good public kicking.
Yes, I know what you mean. The prize is the win, not the "masterclass". As you say, probably only worth entering if one has something pretty much ready to send off. Although I suppose another way of looking at is as a trigger to write something which one can send off to the competition with neither hope nor expectation, but also send to magazines with a more realistic chance of getting somewhere.
 
Up to 4k words so it could be shorter. I have two ready to go somewhere. Results for this one not announced till Jan 2016.
 
I've not posted often lately, so when I do, I try not to be a stick-in-the-mud. However, having seen the prize (a seat at a Guardian Writer's Masterclass) I've decided that there's no point in entering, as the juice isn't worth the squeeze.
Can you imagine the volume of response they are going to get?
Four thousand words - those are long stories. How much time do you think the sifting judges will get? Their brief will be "skim as many stories as you can and look for a reason - any reason at all - to reject it at get on to the next."
You'll be notified if you're shortlisted. (Good luck with that) and the winner will be able to claim what is obviously a massive accolade. But, when considering the time taken... Maybe if you have a 4k story sitting on a peg that meets the exact brief it would be worth a shot, but still... There is no second prize.
As for the Master class thing. I loathe the fact that the Guardian (who are well aware how much money books are expected to make these days) still happily charge thousands (literally) of pounds for their writers' classes. They have created an industry with the sole purpose of monetising the slush pile and they deserve a good public kicking.
We'll take that as a 'no' then.
;-)
 
Hey, go for it if you want to. Just saying it's not something I'd feel right about doing. :)

No, thinking about it, I probably would not do it either, I wonder is there a site / schedule of prizes that you can try for?

I am also looking at trying to build a body of short stories and entering competitions might be a good prompt to produce work on a regular basis.
 
No, thinking about it, I probably would not do it either, I wonder is there a site / schedule of prizes that you can try for?

I am also looking at trying to build a body of short stories and entering competitions might be a good prompt to produce work on a regular basis.
I'm not sure, but someone on this site probably does know, and will hopefully chime in. :)
 
No, thinking about it, I probably would not do it either, I wonder is there a site / schedule of prizes that you can try for?

I am also looking at trying to build a body of short stories and entering competitions might be a good prompt to produce work on a regular basis.

A quick internet search will provide a few sites which collate short story competitions, often by genre. In general, I don't do competitions, and I wouldn't recommend them, for the following reasons [to which there are exceptions, this is just a top-level view of the general picture, so don't shoot me down with specific exceptions to the general rules please...].
  • They nearly all require you to pay money to enter. When you consider the minuscule chances of winning, and weight that against the certainty of paying the entry fee, it starts to sound rather like a lottery. Also, if you go for it properly, you will be entering a lot of competitions. Which means you will be losing a correspondingly greater amount of money. That's fine if you're happy with that, but I am strict about the writing lark not actually costing me money, even if it doesn't make me much. For example, the only reason I allowed myself to pay to be a founding member of Litopia was because the fee had been covered by payment I previously got for a short story. So I am not going to spend money on competitions.
  • There are competitions and competitions. Some are prestigious, bona fide attempts to find great writing. Some are little more than scams to provide the competition organisers with an additional revenue stream. The latter outnumber the former. Because the former are few, the competition is correspondingly greater, and your chances of winning are smaller.
  • In many cases, the competition is judged by Big Names from 'a shortlist'. Given the numbers of entries, this is unavoidable. But who picks the shortlist? Almost certainly underpaid or non-paid fresh graduates. I wouldn't want my work judged and sorted by such as they. Not being cruel, just remembering what I was like just after Uni, and knowing that I could have persuaded someone to allow me to do the sorting, but that I would have been crap at it, even when sober.
Given all that, and given the plethora of magazines to which you can send your material FOR FREE, why on earth would you enter a competition?
 
A quick internet search will provide a few sites which collate short story competitions, often by genre. In general, I don't do competitions, and I wouldn't recommend them, for the following reasons [to which there are exceptions, this is just a top-level view of the general picture, so don't shoot me down with specific exceptions to the general rules please...].
  • They nearly all require you to pay money to enter. When you consider the minuscule chances of winning, and weight that against the certainty of paying the entry fee, it starts to sound rather like a lottery. Also, if you go for it properly, you will be entering a lot of competitions. Which means you will be losing a correspondingly greater amount of money. That's fine if you're happy with that, but I am strict about the writing lark not actually costing me money, even if it doesn't make me much. For example, the only reason I allowed myself to pay to be a founding member of Litopia was because the fee had been covered by payment I previously got for a short story. So I am not going to spend money on competitions.
  • There are competitions and competitions. Some are prestigious, bona fide attempts to find great writing. Some are little more than scams to provide the competition organisers with an additional revenue stream. The latter outnumber the former. Because the former are few, the competition is correspondingly greater, and your chances of winning are smaller.
  • In many cases, the competition is judged by Big Names from 'a shortlist'. Given the numbers of entries, this is unavoidable. But who picks the shortlist? Almost certainly underpaid or non-paid fresh graduates. I wouldn't want my work judged and sorted by such as they. Not being cruel, just remembering what I was like just after Uni, and knowing that I could have persuaded someone to allow me to do the sorting, but that I would have been crap at it, even when sober.
Given all that, and given the plethora of magazines to which you can send your material FOR FREE, why on earth would you enter a competition?


@Marc Joan Thanks for your wonderful insight
 
Marc Joan makes some good points. When I was submitting earlier this year, I sent off several entries to competitions that were free to enter. This was made tricky, as most only accepted short stories or poems that haven't been published elsewhere - and that includes as ebooks or in your church newsletter.

One thing that I would have done differently with my creative writing, would be to have retained some short stories to use in competitions. Instead, I uploaded most of what I'd written onto Smashwords and Amazon in autumn, 2013.

One aspect of publishing that I've noticed again and again, is that there's more money to be made in the services around it than in actually selling books. I mean things like editing services, manuscript appraisal, paid subscriptions to writers' sites, book cover design, paid reviews and competitions with entry fees. I found one small independent publisher (whose name escapes me) running a competition with a pricey entry fee of $20. Looking around their site, I found mention in their blog that there'd been 5,000 entries the previous year. The first prize was $4,000, 2nd received $2,000 and 3rd $1,000, leaving the publisher a profit of $93,000! Nice work, if you can get it...

It's as well to remember that any literary prize is more of a marketing enterprise by the sponsor, with publishers making political overtures to get their book on the long list at the very least. Things can get very bitchy among the judges:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/books/what-to-read/booker-prize-rows-and-insults/
 
I wrote a short a few months ago called "Reader Ship", in which a guy subscribes to a paid reader and fan service. He gets home every night to enjoy people raving about his book, having in-depth discussions about his characters, producing fan art, tweeting about how great his stories are, etc. These readers were working out of an Indian business park, and hired on a daily basis to become avid followers.

In the story, the company is filing the writer's need to be appreciated, rather than conducting a marketing scam. Writers are increasingly publishing into a saturated market in which it's getting harder to find readers. I took the idea to its logical conclusion and found that, pretty soon, I had a whole novel plan based on this concept.

In the meantime, I'm hoping to attract a few (voluntary) readers of my own, with the release of Demon Bound later this week:
 
I found one small independent publisher (whose name escapes me) running a competition with a pricey entry fee of $20. Looking around their site, I found mention in their blog that there'd been 5,000 entries the previous year. The first prize was $4,000, 2nd received $2,000 and 3rd $1,000, leaving the publisher a profit of $93,000! Nice work, if you can get it...
See, this is the shit that pisses me off. So many writers think entering contests is going to get them the dream contract they're looking for, but if you do the math, it's nothing more than a way for a publisher to make revenue. Sure, there are legit ones out there, but most of them aren't worth the time and trouble people place their hopes on.
 
Yes, its the pandering to everyone's need to be appreciated that is a common thread in all industries, we all know the story of the clondyke gold rush, everyone went to find their fortune, but the only guy to make any money out of it was Levi Strauss who sold his swanky denim trousers to the prospectors.

I suppose publishing in a saturated market its exactly the same, how do you get ahead, enter competitions, sign up for creative writing courses, buy books that tell you everything you need to know.

I notice on Litopia, a lot of you all have a pretty well defined presence on the Interweb, with social profiles, your own sites. To me, it looks like the model is "self publishing" and "self marketing".
 
I'm not sure self publishing and self marketing is the way to go for everyone. Most authors I know who are self-published, unless they started doing it around the time of its peak from roughly 2008 through 2011 here in the US, and that's for the romance genre only (that's really all I keep up with), they're not doing that well now.

The market is too saturated, Amazon's programs are killing the royalties for authors, and with the pirates virtually unstoppable, anyone tossing their books up on third party vendors is swimming upstream with a lot of other fish. I know a handful of authors making approximately $100K in royalties each year, but they started during those magic years, and they put out the same book every two weeks. They don't deviate from the formula their readers want, and when they try to, it usually doesn't work. Some of them write very well, and some of them don't, but because they have a following and readers are funny about trying someone new, they continue to sell and sell well. There are a lot of romance fans who would rather read the same story over and over than read something different. I don't understand it, but I also can't change it.

I know for my own situation, entering contests or taking creating writing courses wouldn't pay off at this point, so I don't do it. I know how to write. I know where to put the periods and commas, and I know how to develop a character and move a plot along. Contests and creating writing courses won't help me improve that. I've already done that and been there, and I found it of marginal value, to be perfectly blunt.

What helps me improve is reading constructive reviews and writing more books, listening to what my editors have to say, and always striving to write a better story each time. There are books that helped me far more than any contest I entered or any class I could take. I still refer to them.

Writing, like any art, is something you either can do or can't do. Not all of us can draw, or paint, or knit and have the end result look like a sweater. Not everyone can read or play music. Writing is also an art and not everyone can do it. The gatekeepers are all but gone, and consequently, because literally anyone can now "publish" a book by doing it on their own, the market is flooded with really poorly written books. The industry has changed forever, and I don't think it's changed for the better. But I digress…

Those of us struggling along with digital first publishers have the advantage of a royalty paying publisher, but even that is no guarantee of great sales. We have a social media presence not because self marketing is the way to go, but because readers like to interact with us. It is "marketing" in a way, but that's not all I use it for. I know my readers. I talk to them. I talk to other authors and I know them as well. Some I've met in real life or at least spoken to on the phone.

My Tara Rose and Carolyn Rosewood readers followed me when I took on Ravenna Tate's name because they wanted to keep reading me, no matter what name I published under, and that's because I took time to cultivate those relationships with them, even before I was published. I take the time to get to know them as people, not merely readers or other authors. It makes a huge difference.

THAT'S the key to "marketing" in this crazy industry today where we're competing with dino porn and cowboy books at 99 cents on Amazon. Where authors change a few names around, maybe a few background details, and slam out the same book over and over. Anyone can do that, and that's why I don't and never will. It's why I stopped writing as Tara - because I was constantly encouraged by my publisher to do just that. To write the same stupid book, over and over, and not stray from "what sells."

And yes, I know exactly what that refusal to become just another hack means for me. It means I will continue to work a full time job outside my home AND write at the same time. It means I won't make as much money as some people I know make, even though I write just as well as they do. NOT being conceited - merely keeping it real. But it also means I won't be seen as someone who can only write one kind of story, and I won't feel as if I've compromised my creative integrity just to make a few extra bucks.

Obviously I'm not doing this for the money. If I was, I'd be gone by now. I do it because I've wanted to since I was eight years old. I do it because the voices in my head won't allow me NOT to do it. I do because it's my passion. It's that thing I'd do even if I never made another dime off it. It's not "work" to me. It's fun. It's my escape. It's my release. Work is what I do to pay the bills. But when I write, that's when the real me comes out. :)
 
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And yes, I know exactly what that refusal to become just another hack means for me. It means I will continue to work a full time job outside my home AND write at the same time. It means I won't make as much money as some people I know make, even though I write just as well as they do. NOT being conceited - merely keeping it real. But it also means I won't be seen as someone who can only write one kind of story, and I won't feel as if I've compromised my creative integrity just to make a few extra bucks.

Obviously I'm not doing this for the money. If I was, I'd be gone by now. I do it because I've wanted to since I was eight years old. I do it because the voices in my head won't allow me NOT to do it. I do because it's my passion. It's that thing I'd do even if I never made another dime off it. It's not "work" to me. It's fun. It's my escape. It's my release. Work is what I do to pay the bills. But when I write, that's when the real me comes out. :)

For what it's worth, I think this is the best post I've seen on Litopia to date.
 
@Carol Rose said this...

....................
Obviously I'm not doing this for the money. If I was, I'd be gone by now. I do it because I've wanted to since I was eight years old. I do it because the voices in my head won't allow me NOT to do it. I do because it's my passion. It's that thing I'd do even if I never made another dime off it. It's not "work" to me. It's fun. It's my escape. It's my release. Work is what I do to pay the bills. But when I write, that's when the real me comes out. :)


Thats It Carol, thats all I need to know, respect.
 
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