I recently submitted two short stories to separate writing contests. Often, these contest require one to pay a fee in order to submit. After all, Judges don’t work for free and there’s monetary prizes and maintenance to consider. Fair enough.

Photo by Nataliya Vaitkevich on

One short story I’d previously submitted to a magazine through a Facebook fantasy writer’s group contest. After making the “short list,” it was rejected. Naturally. Part of me is convinced it was a popularity contest (these were not anonymous submissions), but I’ve decided not to take the rejection personally. As an author, you can’t let the rejections grind you down.

Just because that particular panel of judges didn’t select your work for publication doesn’t necessarily mean it was total garbage. There are other factors to consider. Maybe your story–while well-written and engaging–concerned a topic not in vogue at the time. Maybe so many people submitted great work the odds just weren’t in your favor (in this case, the judges could only choose one out of ten for the magazine). Or maybe it really was a popularity contest with unduly biased judges. Etc, & etc.

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Even if you’re discouraged by rejection after rejection, keep trying with other venues. If you don’t ever submit to contests, you’ll never have a chance to win. You never know; another judge or panel could love your story and decide it’s a “winner.”

Two things to remember:

  • Do your research and make sure the contest isn’t a scam to steal your money or your work. It happens, unfortunately. People are jerks. This will never change (until Christ returns).
  • Follow all submission guidelines to the letter with regards to file name, format, fonts, etc. Don’t give the judges an opportunity to reject your hard work out of hand simply because you sent them a Word document instead of a PDF.

I write good stories…but they aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. I’m resigned to that fact. However, I know my audience is out there. Somewhere. By the grace of God, my words will eventually find the people who need to read them. Hopefully, these stories will continue to entertain, instruct, and bring enjoyment to many long after I shed my mortal coil. Perhaps–someday–I’ll be an inspiration for a young person embarking on their own writing journey.

Keep creating, friends. Your fans are out there.

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on

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