So what does it all mean? I've been trying to figure out exactly how I stacked up to the competition in Writers of the Future. For those of you don't know, its the most prestigious writing contest for new writers of science fiction and fantasy. Its judged by the best science fiction and fantasy writers in the business (some of whom were winners, finalists and honorable mentions themselves).
I entered the contest twice, (actually three times but I won't know the results of that quarter for several months), and I got a honorable mention twice. I started writing science fiction for the first submission. (I wrote it in three weeks, before the deadline, and sent it on the deadline). So, if it weren't for the contest I wouldn't be writing SF.
There contest has four quarters every year. Basically, its ongoing. If you miss the deadline for one quarter, you'll make the next one. You're only allowed one submission per quarter and submissions can be up to 17,000 words. No nonfiction, poetry, etc... just original science fiction and fantasy. L. Ron Hubbard started the contest to help young writers break into the exceeding hard business of professional writing (i.e. getting discovered and published). (It has nothing to do with Scientology).
There are three winners each quarter. 1st prize is $1,000, 2nd prize is $750, 3rd prize is $500. All winners are published in the yearly anthology, which gets more industry attention than most anthologies. (Sometimes finalists are published in the anthology, as well). At the end of the year there's a ceremony in Hollywood, where a Grand Prize winner is selected, whom receives an additional $5,000. (Plus all the winners get nifty trophies). There are also a week of writing classes conducted by some of the leading science fiction and fantasy writers. And there's a book signing by the winners. Agents, publishers and the like attend the ceremony. Oh, did I mention that there's no entry fee to the contest!
No exact figures are available as to how many submissions there are every quarter. Some say it's in the thousands. I heard that it more like 1,200 to 2,000 per quarter. I spoke (emailed) to Joni Labaqui, the contest administrator, and she said that the quarter I just got my honorable mention, Q2 2010, had more submissions than they ever had before. So, let's safely assume that it's over 2,000 submissions. She has also stated in the past that the top 10%-15% get a honorable mention or better.
I tallied the honorable mentions for this quarter; there were 95. There were 3 silver honorable mentions, which is a new category created due to the increased volume of entries. The coming quarters are sure to see a big spike in entries as they now accept electronic submissions. (No more trips to my awful post office, at least not for this contest). There were 10 semi finalists and 8 finalists. I feel like I did pretty well for a fledgling author.