Today I am welcoming Nancy Sakaduski, owner of Cat & Mouse Press and creator of the Rehoboth Beach Reads Short Story Contest.
The RBR contest is in its third year and is currently open for submissions. This year’s theme is “beach days.” I had the pleasure of judging last year’s entries for Rehoboth Beach Reads, published in The Boardwalk. Although the beach and Rehoboth are tied into the stories, the contest is open to all writers, from anywhere.
Below, Nancy shares her thoughts on why entering a contest helps you as a writer. She also shares what to do, and what not to do, when entering a competition or call for entries.
Why enter a short story contest?
- It forces you to read guidelines and write to a deadline and word count, which is good practice for becoming a professional writer.
- It gives you experience with editing, revising, and proofreading your work.
- Writing a short story is less of an investment than writing a novel.
- Short stories let you try new genres and test out characters, settings, concepts, and different points of view.
- Contests are generally inexpensive to enter.
- It’s a chance to have your writing evaluated objectively.
- If you win, you may win cash, publication, or both.
- Publication gives you credibility as a professional writer and adds to your bio for future projects.
- Publication gives you experience with the editing and publishing process.
- Winning a contest can get your writing noticed.
- Publication gives you publicity opportunities and networking potential.
- Additional publications help you build a fan base.
- You maintain ownership (check the guidelines carefully to confirm) and can sell your work elsewhere, so you are not giving anything away.
- The odds of winning a local contest like the Rehoboth Beach Reads Short Story Contest are actually pretty good. Unlike with national competitions (or with large publishers and literary publications), the pool of entries is small, so you have a much better chance of having your work accepted.
- You will have a sense of accomplishment from successfully writing, polishing, and submitting your work.
- Entering a contest is fun!
Contest Dos and Don’ts
- Read the guidelines carefully and follow them. Guidelines are how publishers tell you what they want.
- Look for an interesting way to connect with the theme and the location. Judges (and readers!) appreciate creativity and variety. Make your story stand out.
- Try a genre (mystery, romance, humor).
- Polish your writing. Edit to make the story nice and tight, not just to fit the word count.
- Remember that this is a contest for beach reads. You can deal with a serious subject if you do it in an uplifting or inspirational way, but please save stories about suicide, sick children, tragic accidents, and other calamities for a different contest!
- Give your story the same title as the contest theme (or worse, no title at all). The title is an opportunity to spark interest in your story.
- Take a story you wrote ten years ago and add “and then they went to Rehoboth.” Take the time to write something fresh that fits the theme.
- Just write a series of scenes or remembrances. Tell a story. It’s right there in the name: short story.
- Submit the story in a form that makes it difficult to read (odd fonts, colors, formatting) or difficult to manipulate (pdf, pasted into an email, mailed in printed form).
Above all: have fun!
Nancy Sakaduski owns Cat & Mouse Press and runs the Rehoboth Beach Reads Short Story Contest. The contest invites writers to submit stories of 500-3,500 words that have a connection to Rehoboth Beach (full details are available here: http://www.catandmousepress.com/contest-guidelines.html
Nancy is the author of 100+ articles and 21 books (many written for young people under the name “Nancy Day”). She has also published dozens of business and technical articles; co-authored the third edition of Scientific English: A Guide for Scientists and Other Professionals, published in 2011; and was the developmental editor for Global Energy Innovation: Why America Must Lead by (Nobel Peace Prize winner) Woodrow W. Clark II and Grant Cooke. Managing Volunteers: How to Maximize Your Most Valuable Resource was published by Praeger in March 2013.
More information on Cat & Mouse Press can be found here: www.catandmousepress.com
Amazon author page: www.amazon.com/author/nancysakaduski