Micro & Flash Fiction Contests

12 Dec
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Making it to the final round often results in publication.

I go on and off contests. Sometimes I get upset about the fees and stop submitting to them for a while, but I always come back. The primary appeal is the guarantee that the submission will be read and fairly considered in a blind judging process within a reasonable, specified timeframe.

Ordinary submissions to literary magazines and presses, despite the best efforts and highest ethical standards of Those In Charge, may never get more than a glance at the first paragraph, if your submission is not passed along by an agent or you haven’t somehow caught the attention of the reader—say by publishing something widely read and admired, or sharing an appetizer with the right person a week ago last Saturday. You can’t even blame the readers for dismissing your work without due consideration, because everyone in literary publishing, including the volunteers, are over-assigned and under-rewarded. But it’s frustrating to be the writer on the other end.

As for timing, my first literary magazine acceptance took eight months. I’ve received rejections well after a year from submission date, including from magazines that don’t allow simultaneous submission. And these timeframes are not at all unusual. With a contest, you know when the decision will come, and it’s typically within a quarter of submission.

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And I’m happy to know that my contest fee will fund the usual cash reward that goes to the winner, who likely earns next to nothing from her writing.

I’ve had good luck with contests—I’ve published six stories by entering them—and I want to pass along that good luck. So I’m sharing the fruits of my own search for worthwhile contests where you can submit your micro and flash fiction, knowing at least one person will give it a careful read. My modest list is here. There are plenty more to try, if you’re especially eager, but this will get you started. If you have enough publishable micros and flashes to put together a fiction chapbook, you’ll find a list of chapbook contests here.

What are you waiting for? Go!

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