Professional Writer?

“A non – professional writer means a person who has never received a fee for their work, whether it be fiction or non-fiction. Prize money received as a result of entering work into a competition is not considered a fee. “

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I was thinking of entering a short story competition I came across recently on the Internet. Two things I ask from competitions: do they charge an entry fee and can I send my entry by email.

These are not set in stone. I enter a number of competitions where there is an entry fee and quite a few where the organisers ask for postal entries. It’s just easier for me if I can work on screen rather than print off a story, find an envelope and a stamp and trek to the post office.

In the competition I was considering I got as far as reading  the Terms and Conditions. (Advice to writers and comp entrants: always read the T&Cs ideally before you’ve started to work on your entry.) I found the condition quoted above defining a “professional writer” . The competition did not accept entries from “professional writers.”

Some time ago I wrote a regular column for my local weekly paper. They paid me. Not a vast amount, but they paid me. I’ve also had a number of poems printed in a magazine called “Quantum Leap”. It runs competitions but also pays for poems submitted on spec and published. Unusual among poetry magazines. Often editors regard a poet as an unworldly creature who doesn’t want to be paid and is quite happy to work for nothing or just for the honour of appearing in print.

I wouldn’t have said the small monetary rewards from these two sources make me a “professional writer”. I am hardly in the same league as James Patterson or Margaret Atwood. But apparently I am not elegible for this competition. A pity. Think what Dragonfly tea and the Henley Literary Festival are missing!

CG16D

ESME

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