Romantic Novelists' Association

February 2020: Competition Monthly

24 February 2020

Rights Grabs

Recently there has been much made in the writing world about ‘rights grabs’ by certain magazines that publish short stories. Magazines will normally ask for all rights for a certain time, say eighteen months, or sometimes only UK rights, so it’s possible to send a short story out again after that period, or within that period to another country. These are all reasonable rights stipulations. The same goes for granting world or various other rights to a publisher of our novels, particularly as this usually involves reasonable recompense at an agreed percentage.

Some magazine publishing companies have changed their policies to demand world rights for evermore, but only giving the writer one (not impressive) fee. Not unnaturally, this has caused a stir among short story writers (some of whom, like myself, are also novel writers), and many have boycotted these magazines. One or two publications have relented, but it’s a worrying trend that suggests they see fiction writers as no more skilled than the readers who send in letters.

The problem of ‘rights grabs’ sadly persists in the competition world. Each month when I trawl through the rules, I find myself disregarding more and more contests, sometimes as many as a third. The problem in some ways is worse than in magazines, as the competition organisers demand the right to publish either shortlisted entries, or on occasion any entries sent in, whether receivers of prize money or not.

The one area I personally would made an exception for, and indeed have, is a competition to be in a charity anthology where the money goes to a good cause.

As a professional writer, I believe it’s important to challenge the idea that writers are simply hobbyists who should be grateful to have their little piece of writing ‘out there’. I can’t imagine the winner of a tender for, say, a structural engineering job, being impressed to be told there’s little or no money involved, but the opportunity for people to see his/her handiwork! Other professionals aren’t expected to give away their services for free, so why should writers?


The best of luck in your endeavours.


Click December 2019  and January 2020 for posts detailing further competitions closing in March and April.




Rolling Competitions


Writer’s Forum Short Story Contest

Theme: Open, 1000 – 3,000 words

Prizes: £300 / £150 / £100

Closing date: Rolling

Entry: £6 / Subscribers £3




March Competitions


Writing Magazine Timely Topic Short Story Competition

Theme: ‘Meltdown’, 1,500 – 1,700

Prizes: £100 (or critique) plus publication online

Closing date: 31 March 2020

Entry: £5




April Competitions


Writer’s Digest Self-Publishing Book Awards

Theme: For self-published books – several categories

Prizes: $1,000 in each category / $8,000 Grand Prize

Closing date: Early bird 1st April otherwise 1st May 2020

Entry: Early bird $99 / $125



Writing Magazine 750 Word Competition

Theme: Open

Prizes: £200 plus publication in magazine / £50 plus publication online

Closing date: 1st April 2020

Entry: £6 / £4 subscribers



The Martin Crawford Award

Theme: Short story 2,500 words max (also poetry)

Prize: £500

Closing date: 29 April 2020

Entry: £6



Bristol Short Story Prize

Theme: Open, 4,000 words max

Prizes: £1,000 / £500 / £250 / 17 x £100

Closing date: 30 April 2020

Entry: £9




May Competitions


ABR Elizabeth Jolley Short Story Prize

Theme: Open, 2,000 – 5,000 words

Prizes: $6.000 / $4,000 / $2,500

Closing date: 1st May 2020

Entry: $25



Lorian Hemingway Short Story Competition

Theme: Open, 5,000 words max

Prizes: $1,500 plus publication / 2 x $500

Closing date: 1st May 2020

Entry: $15



Writer’s Digest Annual Writing Competition

Theme: Several categories with different requirements

Prizes: Grand overall prize of $5,000 then in each category: $1,000 / $500 / $250 / $100 / $50 / 5 x $25. All first places published online.

Closing date: 4 May 2020

Entry: $30



Bath Novel Award

Theme: Any genre of adult or YA novel, first 5,000 plus 1 page synopsis, from unpublished, self-published and independently published novelists

Prizes: £3,000 / short list prize: manuscript feedback and literary agent introductions / longlist prize: online editing course from Cornerstones Literary Consultancy

Closing date: 31 May 2020

Entry: £28



Blue Pencil Agency First Novel Award

Theme: Adult or YA with strong adult crossover, opening chapters up to 5,000 words, 300 word synopsis and cover letter.

Prizes: £1,000 pus agent introduction / Manuscript review and agent introduction / Agent introduction

Closing date: 31 May 2020

Entry: £20



Yeovil Novel Prize

Theme: For aspiring novelists. Synopsis and opening chapters maximum of 15,000 wrods in all

Prize: £1,000 / £250 / £100

Closing date: 31 May 2020

Entry: £12



Yeovil Short Story Prize

Theme: Open, 2,000 words max

Prize: £500 / £200 / £100

Closing date: 31 May 2020

Entry: £7



Yeovil Writing Without Restrictions Prize

Theme: ‘You write it – we’ll read it’

Prize: £200 / £100 / £50

Closing date: 31 May 2020

Entry: £5



Frome Festival Short Story Competition

Theme: Open, 1,000 – 2,200 words.

Prize: £400 / £200 / £100

Closing date: 31 May 2020

Entry: £8






Francesca Capaldi Burgess has been placed or shortlisted in a number of competitions including Winchester Writers’ Conference, Twyford Writers, Chorley & District Writer’s Circle, Retreat West,, Meridian Writing, Flash a Famous Phrase, Wells Festival, Writing Magazine and The People’s Friend serial competition. She’s had stories and a serial published in magazines worldwide and her third pocket novel is due out in March. Her first historical saga, published by Hera Books, will be out on June 10th. Apart from the RNA, she’s also a member of the Society for Women Writers and Journalists. Francesca runs a writing blog with RNA member Elaine Roberts called Write Minds.