5 lit contests to enter on a writer’s budget

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Send your masterpiece and you could be sitting on top of the (literary) world

In the immortal words of Chris Farley’s motivational speaker Matt Foley: “Hey, is that Bill Shakespeare over there? I can’t see too good.” If you’re a Bill Shakespeare who needs to make a few bones, you can spend months agonizing over finding the right venue for your work. So we compiled five legitimate literary contests worth your time, aka: they have cheap submission fees and offer more than one prize, so your chance of winning some mad guap is better. Here they are in order of deadline:



1. The Robinson Jeffers Tor House 2011 Prize for Poetry
Category: Poetry
Deadline: March 15
Fee: $10 for three poems
Prize: $1,000; $200 honorable mention
Stipulations: Uh, it’s four days away.
Why it’s worth it: You can write three poems in four days.

2. Gemini Magazine
Category: Short story
Deadline: March 31
Fee: $4 for one story
Prize: $1,000; $100 for second prize
Stipulations: It’s not exactly The Paris Review.
Why it’s worth it: $4 is less than you’d spend at Starbucks.

3. Tom Howard/John H. Reid Short Story Contest
Category: Short story
Deadline: March 31
Fee: $15 for one story
Prizes: $3,000; $1,000 for second prize, $400 for third prize, $250 for fourth prize, plus six Most Highly Commended Awards of $150 each!
Stipulations: None! You can submit as many entries as you like.
Why it’s worth it: See above prizes. What value! Plus, you have a chance to win something.

4. Madeline P. Plonsker Emerging Writer’s Residency Prize
Category: Prose and poetry
Deadline: April 1
Fee: none!
Prize: $12,000… But you have (get to?) spend two months in residency in Lake Forest, Illinois. It’s for writers under 40 years old with no major book publication. So, um, you.
Stipulations: You’d have to find a subleter if you win.
Why it’s worth it: You could make even more money from the totally legal sublet.

5. The Writer magazine
Category: Short story
Deadline: April 30
Fee: $10 for one story
Prize: $1,000; $300 for second prize, $200 for third prize.
Stipulations: It’s a crowded contest.
Why it’s worth it: Your work could be published in a magazine sold at your hometown Barnes & Noble. Take that, English teacher who gave you a B!

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