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Contest & Grants: Tips and Rewards

One way to get yourself pumped up about writing, as well as opening up some opportunities, is to enter contests or to apply for a grant. Besides the possibility of having the award-winning entry and receiving some financial award, there are some other rewards and opportunities as well.

For everyone there is the discipline of writing something well, and meeting a deadline. Some contests consider non-winning entries for publication. Some give exposure to runners-up as well as the top winner. I received a Letter of Merit from SCBWI for a non-winning manuscript. It validated my writing ability and gave me a vote of confidence. I included a reference to that letter in my cover letter when I submitted my manuscript, and FROM DAWN TO DREAMS was later published by Candlewick.

Then you never know who the judges might be. I submitted a manuscript for an SCBWI Work-in-Progress grant, and one of the judges was an editor for a major publishing company. She took an interest in my story and asked to see the complete manuscript. She rejected it, but then I submitted it to Dial, and TURKEY SURPRISE was published.

A few tips:

Submit your best work. Never send a manuscript that isn’t ready to be seen by an editor. Be professional—proof read your manuscript for correct spelling and grammar.

Read the rules carefully, and pay attention to details. Follow the rules to the letter. Stay within the guidelines regarding word count. One word too many can automatically disqualify your submission. Make sure your manuscript is written for the correct genre and age level, and follows the theme of the contest.

Read winning entries from past contests, or back issues of magazines sponsoring the contest, to get a feel for what they are looking for.

Be careful of contests that charge a fee. Read the fine print. Are you required to make a purchase if you win to see your work in print? Do research to find out if the contest is legitimate.

Here are a few opportunities for children’s writers with deadlines coming up soon.

Children’s Writer—Kindergarten Story Writing Contest
http://www.thechildrenswriter.com/af627/
A fictional story or nonfiction about family life or school for ages 5-6, up to 150 words. Deadline February 28, 2011. This contest charges a $15 fee to non-subscribers, but includes an 8-month subscription, which is worth the fee.

Indiana Arts Commission, Individual Artists Program
http://www.in.gov/arts/individualartistprogram.htm
Accepting applications for grants in literature and others. Deadline is February 14, 2011. For residents of Indiana. Check for similar available grants offered by the state in which you live.

SCBWI Work-in-Progress Grant and others
http://www.scbwi.org/Pages.aspx/Introduction
Open to members only. Deadline is March 15, 2011.
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