Best Magazine – New Short Story Competition

bestThe good news is that Best magazine is running another short story competition, with a £1000 first prize.

They’re looking for a ‘Christmas’ short story, on the theme of ‘A Christmas Carol’ (which you can interpret in any way you like. Hmm, what’s the betting there’ll be lots of female protagonists called…wait for it.. Carol?). The deadline is 26th November.

It’s not exactly free to enter CORRECTION! As Bernadette has kindly pointed out, although you need to collect 4 tokens in total (all with different numbers) and attach them to your entry, they can all be downloaded from the website, if you like – or you can send a combination of tokens from the weekly magazine and tokens from the website here .

More details about the competition here.

In addition to collecting the tokens, you have to include, with your submission ‘the name of a famous author who’ll be mentioned in one of the four stories that will be appearing on every week’. But I wouldn’t worry too much about that. I’m sure, between us, we can find out the answer!

Now, I said there was ‘good news’ – but there’s ‘bad news’ too.

I don’t want to put a ‘downer’ on this competition. It’s great to see the weeklies promoting and publishing short stories (more please!!), particularly as, before they ran their last short story competition, a couple of years ago, Best had stopped including fiction in the magazine but they’ve now introduced it again.

However, I am slightly worried by this: The £1,000 winner’s story, plus two runners-up, will be published in our issue out on 24 December 2013.

I wonder if the 2 runners up will be PAID anything for their story?

I was runner-up in the last Best short story competition. The winner got £1000, lucky lady and I got nothing – just the ‘glory’ (?!) of seeing my story in print. It still smarts, I have to tell you!

Particularly as the editor, when she phoned to tell me the ‘good news’ – and to ask if they could print my story (and I was so dumbstruck that I said yes and only afterwards thought ‘oh, do I get paid?’),suggested that, if (as they subsequently did) the magazine re-introduced their fiction slot, there could well be opportunities for me to have stories published and paid for.

That, I have to tell you, hasn’t happened. 😦

So, just be aware. It’s a great competition and the first prize is truly fabulous. BUT, if you are one of the two runners-up, you may well be expected to hand over your story free, gratis and for nothing, which means, as it will then have appeared in print, you can’t sell it to any other magazine. And if it’s a runner-up, that means it’s a GOOD STORY.

‘Think on’, as the inimitable Vera Duckworth used to say.

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24 Responses to Best Magazine – New Short Story Competition

  1. Really good advice-anyone entering after reading this will understand exactly what to expect!

  2. Lesley Dawson says:

    Thanks for this, Helen. We put a lot of work into our stories and to think of not being able to sell it on if it got a runners-up place is a real downer. The first prize is fab, but getting nixie for runners-up is a bit mean. Thanks for the warning.

  3. It doesn’t seem outside the realms of possibility to ‘adjust’ the prize money so that the winner gets a bit less but the runners up are also paid something. I suppose they like the headline of the four figure number. Shame.

  4. Yes, thanks, Helen. I’m trying to decide whether or not to enter – I’m put off by them not rewarding the runners up and think it’s very poor practice.

  5. Wendy Clarke says:

    I wrote four Christmas stories this year and have been lucky enough to have sold them all, so I know what I will (or rather won’t) be doing!

  6. Jenny Roman says:

    Thanks for all the info, Helen – both the positives and the negatives! Unlike Wendy, I’m not very good at Christmas stories, but I’ll have a ponder and see if I can come up with something. Good to know that ‘Best’ is at least continuing to support the short story in any case.

  7. julielees says:

    What a swizz! They could pay the runners up a nominal amount or pledge a Harrods’ hamper in lieu of payment. In your dreams…

    • I don’t know for sure that they’re not giving the runners-up a prize (where are the full rules & regs – anyone found them?!) but, given my experience, I suspect there is nothing for runners-up. I’d be very pleased to be proved wrong, though!

  8. KH says:

    Hi Helen. I have to say I won’t be bothering entering as I was very disappointed on your behalf last year when they didn’t pay you for publication. Also the stories they do print seem to be written primarily by a select few writers so the magazine is not really offering new opportunities for fiction writers. The competition will however certainly boost the sales figures of Best if lots of writers rush out and purchase the mag over several weeks.

  9. Bernadette says:

    I also felt for you last year, Helen. I see that a comment has been left on the competition page on Best daily asking what the runners- up will get, so maybe there will be a more positive response to that this year.
    One slight correction – there is no need to buy the mag – you can print all the tokens off online if you want to (one a week) so at least it is free entry (apart from the stamp to send it!)

    • Oh yes, you’re right, Bernadette. I assumed (never assume!) that you had to at least buy some copies of the magazine, but it would seem not! Hurrah! It’s better than I thought. I will amend the blog post now – thanks!

  10. simonwhaley says:

    I hope you included your published story in your ALCS claim – whilst you didn’t get payment from Best, at least publication does help boost your ALCS claim. It would be better if first got £500 (a good fee for a published story), second got £300 and third got £200 (both still good fees for short stories) yet no additional costs to Best.

  11. It does seem a little unfair for the 2nd and 3rd not to get anything if the story is published.

  12. Helen Finch says:

    It seems to me that most writing opportunities want to take articles/stories without much reward. They don’t seem to realise how long it takes to research/think up ideas and perfect. I’ll have a go but I won’t be impressed if I received nothing and came 2nd/3rd! Great blog

  13. Jo Carroll says:

    Yet another organisation that forgets writers have to live – and for that we need an income. Publishing for free – especially as the writer gives up all rights – is grossly unfair. I suppose anyone forewarned could refuse to let them publish it – but you’d have to be really ‘on the ball’ when that phone call came.

  14. Keith Havers says:

    I think of it like the lottery. Would you like to have the remote chance of winning six million quid or would you rather the prize money was split so you had a better (but still pretty remote) chance of winning a few grand? A thousand pounds is a good payout for a page of writing. You just have to decide if it’s worth the gamble. Don’t know if this helps.

  15. Bernadette says:

    In case anyone was thinking of entering, you DO need to buy this week’s mag to get the entry form. They have also confirmed that there is nothing for the runners-up.

  16. Would anyone hazard a guess as to how many entries they are likely to get? If it was less than (say) 100, I wouldn’t really have a problem with them only having one winner, but if it ran in to the thousands then the odds wouldn’t justify entering it for just one prize.
    I expect the magazine will just say “It’s our competition, so you have to play by our rules.” and you can’t really blame them for that.

    • Michael, last time they ran it, they had over 800 entries (I know because I was the runner-up and the editor told me when she rang me with ‘good’ news!). It is their competition, of course and they can run it how they like. Perhaps we should just be glad that one of the women’s magazines is at least ‘championing’ short stories, even if, perhaps, it’s not exactly in the way we’d have liked (ie: I think, if they’re going to print runners-up stories, they should at least pay them the going rate. Best always used to pay £200 for every story they published). It’s worth a go though – it’s free to enter and if you’re not in, you can’t win!

  17. Dee Lighted says:

    I’ve read all comments with interest and am glad for the i.a.g.. I entered this competition, so, in view of what’s been said, sounds like I should at least be relieved at not coming second or third. At least I retain rights and I can hope to sell it (later) to another publication.

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