West Virginia Writers Annual Writing Contests are in the home stretch for the March 31 FINAL deadline.
To help things run smoothly for both entrants and our contest coordinator (me) here’s a handy checklist that you should go over before sending in your entries.
1) Have you read the contest rules to make sure you’re complying with them? Even if you’ve entered a dozen times in the past, please don’t assume you know the rules by heart. Mistakes happen, so please read the rules again. The CONTEST GUIDELINES are guidelines, not merely suggestions. Follow them and you cannot go wrong.
2) Is your contest category and the word count for your entry printed in the top right corner of your entry? The word count means the actual number of words in your entry. (You don't need word count for poetry entries. You DO for all prose entries.) Your word processing program will be able to tell you this. Please do not estimate. For Book Length Prose, this means the word count of your submitted excerpt, not of the overall novel.
3) Have you filled out your entry form correctly and marked which categories you’re entering? Not filling out the category section would be okay if you’re sending only one entry and its category is noted on the entry itself, but in the case of multiple prose entries it can be important to have it in both places.
4) Have you double and triple checked that your name is NOT printed on your actual story or poem? The ONLY place your name should appear is on your contest entry form. (We assign each story a code corresponding with that author’s entry in our contest database, where the author’s name and their story are recorded. This way our judges have no idea who has written a given piece.)
5) If your entry requires a one-page synopsis (Book Length Prose, Screenplay, Middle Grade Children's Book) have you included it?
6) Have you double-checked to make sure you included all of your entries in your envelope? In the past, we’ve received a few envelopes that are a story or poem short of the intended amount. (In fact, I once received an envelope that only had an entry form and no submission at all.) I always contact entrants to make sure of their intentions. But the more careful you are in submitting the easier it is on me. Which brings me to…
7) Have you included accurate contact information for yourself? Every year people send entries in that require followup to correct an error or two, and every year many of those emails sent bounce back because they are incorrectly written on the form. (And, sometimes, handwriting interpretation on my part may be at fault.) Please legibly print your contact info, especially your email address, and make sure it’s all correct.
8) Have you addressed your envelope with the correct address of our contest coordinator? We have occasionally received entries forwarded from Patsy Pittman, who was our contest coordinator for many years, but has not been since 2008. Please use the correct entry form with the correct address for 2015, which is available at our website and in our newsletter.
Dos and Don'ts.
- DO staple your individual entries if they have multiple pages. (You can also paperclip them, but I'm just going to remove the paperclip and staple them again for added stability in transit to the judges.)
- DON'T staple all of your entries together in one big stapled document. You may use a paperclip to hold multiple entries together, but stapling them all together does not help and may actually hurt. (I've received several stabbings while trying to remove such staples.)
- DO write legibly on your entry form.
- DON'T forget to include your zip code on the contest entry form. I don't know the zip code for every town in the state and having to find your envelope to double check the return address slows down the process.)
If you have questions feel free to send them to me at email@example.com. Do know, though, that many of the answers to questions I have received about the contest are found at our Frequently Asked Questions list.