Writing Contests FAQ

How can I tell if a poetry contest or publishing offer is a scam?

How do I compete in contests?

Does the Academy give out scholarships or grants?

How can I find out about book awards offered by the Academy?

What is meant by a "standard edition"?

May I submit entries to the Academy's Poet Prizes online?

 


How can I tell if a contest or publishing offer is a scam? Consider these four warning signs:

  • The sponsor or publisher asks for money. If a contest requires a reading fee, consider (a) whether the sponsor is a for-profit or nonprofit organization, and (b) whether you feel its activities other than the contest are worth supporting. It does cost money to run a contest, so don't label all contests with fees as scams. Your entry fee may be used towards helping to keep a publicly supported arts organization healthy. A commercial sponsor of a contest, however, should only earn a profit by selling the winning book.
  • There is no payment in either cash or publication copies. Many legitimate publications can't afford to pay their contributors, but at the very least they should give you a free copy of the finished product. If your work is worth publishing, it's worth paying for.
  • The publisher lists only a P.O. box address. If no phone number or street address is listed, they might be are purposely obscuring their whereabouts. Why—or what—are they trying to hide from you?
  • The offer is a form letter that looks unprofessional. Using handwriting-style typefaces and fake Post-it notes is a popular tactic with direct-mail solicitation from a charity or book-club, but you shouldn't find these on an acceptance letter from a publisher.

How do I compete in contests?

  • Find out which competitions you are eligible for and their deadlines through resources such as Poets & Writers Magazine, which also hosts a writing contests database on its website, pw.orgGrants & Awards Available to American Writers; and the Poet's Market, published annually.
  • Request guidelines from the sponsor by sending a self-addressed, stamped envelope (SASE) and a brief note naming the contest.
  • Read the guidelines very carefeully and follow them to the letter.
  • Always keep a copy of your writing. Do not expect to receive your entry back unless the guidelines explicitly state entries will be returned and you include an SASE of an appropriate size with enough postage.

Does the Academy give out scholarships or grants?

We do not offer scholarships of any kind.

How can I find out about book awards offered by the Academy?

Detailed guidelines and entry forms for our awards are available on each award page, a list of which is here. If you have read the guidelines and still have a question, feel free to email: awards@poets.org.

What is meant by a "standard edition"?

A book that is published in a standard edition contains forty or more pages of text. Anything shorter is ineligible for the Academy's Poets Prizes.

May I submit entries to the Academy's Poets Prizes online?

We accept online submissions only for the Walt Whitman Award. All of our other awards are for published books or book-length manuscripts.