Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Some Hints & Suggestions for those entering The Russell Prize from Two Sylvias Press...

Already submissions are coming in for Two Sylvias Press's new The Russell Prize, a monetary prize for a poet of any age who has not yet published a book or chapbook.

There have been a few really outstanding entries, but there have also been some I already know won't make it to the next level. Why? Because they are what I call the "5 minute entry," reading them, it feels as if about 5 minutes has been spent on the entry.

So this blog post is to give you some suggestions and note for how to have a strong entry for this prize or maybe something else.

1) Read the guidelines carefully:

and follow the guidelines. If it says, three poems, don't send four. If it says no attachments,

don't send your poems in an MS Word or PDF document. Send everything that's asked for.

2) Answer thoughtfully.

Three things that we ask for are: a) a bio b) a description of why the money would be helpful

and what you are working on (up to 400 words), c) how you heard about The Russell Prize.

Share as much as you can to explain your project and what you have done and plan to do in

the poetry community. This is not the time to dash off something like, "I would use the money

to help with bills and to finish my manuscript" and leave it at that.  You have 400 words to s

hare your goals and  dreams. You have 400 words to set you apart from probably 400 other poets.

Yes, I think there could be that many entering. So really take more than five minutes, or an hour, and write the best description you can. Remembering, we know *nothing* about you. We need to learn who you are in the bio, in the description, and in your poems. Impress us. Don't be afraid to tell us that you have won a prize or where you've been published, or that you volunteer in the schools. 

3) Proofread! 

Double check you answered all the questions. Make sure you included all your

contact info, the best things you want to share. Read your bio & description out loud.

4) Be professional.  

 In your description, your bio, your correspondence. All of it. Take it seriously. Represent 

yourself the best you can and share your best self. Use your manners, but also use your own

personality and style as well. Be clear and specific in everything you write to us.

Remember, we have to read every single entry. We want to love you and your work.

5) Make sure your submission is clean and easy to understand and read. 

Put things in the order they were asked for. Look it over on the page or ask someone else to read it

before you send it off to make sure it's clear and easy to understand.

6)  Open with a clean clear opening note: "Dear Kelli & Annette, Below is my submission

for Two Sylvia Press' The Russell Prize, which I discovered while on your website. "

Then beneath that, clearly include the information that is being asked for.

Some definite No's:

Do not begin "Dear Sirs."

Do not think being flip, uncaring, or cool is cute or impressive.

Do not think you are the best just because. Show us you are the best person for us to choose.

Extra credit:  

You've researched our Two Sylvias Press, you know who we are, who we publish, and what our mission in the literary community is.

You're actually a reader of one of our poets, publications, or maybe even own one of our books.

You follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, or backed us on Kickstarter.

We are who you'd want to ask to prom. 
We are a press you'd be proud to sponsor you and perhaps in the future, 
     when your manuscript is complete, publish your book.
You believe in what we do and want to support us.
You believe that great writing is good for the world.

And when it's over, if you're not chosen, don't take rejection personally and don't view it as rejection. Realize there are a lot of poets already competing for this prize. We wish we had more to give. We wish we could choose many of you.

On a personal note, this prize means a lot to me as it's named after my family and is a tribute to parents. If you read the note, my father passed away right when I graduated from college, he has not been able to see anything I'd done in my life as an adult. I'm not taking this first choice lightly.

We want to choose someone who is doing good work in the world.  We want to begin to establish a prize that will go on to support poets.  We want this to be yearly (though honestly, next year, there may be a small fee to enter just to weed out the people who aren't serious, who just mail three poems and a smiley face. They should not take away our time in really being able to support the poets who care and who deserve this).  

But this is this year, and hopefully some of these tips can help you.  Be specific, thoughtful, and thorough are probably the best advice I can give.  And good luck to you.

For more info on The Russell Prize from Two Sylvias Press:

Learn more about Two Sylvias Press here.

Learn more about Two Sylvias Press' Authors here.

Learn more about our publications here.

Deadline for the Prize, November 2... (But another hint, don't wait until the last day).

~ Kells
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