writing portfolio of Stephanie Lenz

Posts tagged “contest tips

Still 25%

I retrieved A Midsummer Tale entries for Theryn yesterday. What happens is that an editor who isn’t a judge of a particular contest gets the entries for the judge(s). Usually Theryn does this but since she judges AMT, another editor removes the identifying info from submissions and puts them into a Google Drive folder to share with her.

We had a round number and large pool of submissions so I could do some math off the top of my head when gathering the entries. Like I wrote about inĀ my recent editorial, we had a contest entry from a female author which included a cover letter claiming we would delete and disregard the entry, which the author believed we wouldn’t like. Not true. Never true.

Beyond that, a simple count proved my ongoing statement that simply following directions gets you ahead of 25% of contest entries. With AMT 2017, 24% of entries were disqualified for being attachments. Some of the entrants who had attached entries said in their cover letters that they had found us on a contest listing site — which we love to hear — but then they didn’t read our all-caps NO ATTACHMENTS demand, maybe because they didn’t visit our site.

If we also DQed the stories that didn’t tell us whether the story was fiction or creative non-fiction, we would have between 5-10 stories left. Out of the original number of submissions, that’s tragic.

I found several entries that followed all of the guidelines, especially near the end of the submissions. This made me very happy. I love knowing that there are plenty of writers out there who were willing to jump through our hoops (as some writers have replied when receiving rejections).

All we want is for a story to stay inside the word count parameters, fit the theme, come in on time, and not have any attachments. It goes without saying that simultaneous submissions are also a no-no. Those might be “hoops” but they’re low-standing giant hula hoops, not elevated, flaming, oscillating hoops that are the size of an earring.

FWIW our entries came from all around the world. That’s something else I love to see.

Keep writing, keep submitting, and read the rules!

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DOW 2015

We had a nice number of Dead of Winter entries: enough to be competitive but not so many as to be overwhelming. As has been my experience in the 15 years I’ve judged this contest, there were about ten entries left for rereading and, from those, I had three clear favorites. My favorite popped right into my top spot. That’s not to say it’s a guaranteed winner; Erin and I still need to collaborate.

Still frustrating: stories that don’t follow word count parameters, stories that arrive late, stories that aren’t horror stories (DOW is a horror story contest), stories that don’t use the theme, and stories that have the theme shoehorned in rather than written into the story. This happens every time. Sometimes a single entry checks off a couple of those boxes.

Invariably, this eliminates at least 25% of the entries. So if you stay within the word count parameters, use the genre, use the theme, and send it in time, you’re already in the top 75% of entries.