Nine mistakes to avoid when submitting to the CBC Literary Prizes

Pouring creative mind and heart into writing an entry for the competition, then making a mistake in the transfer that disqualifies you. It's like running a marathon, but forgetting to cross the finish line.

So before you send off your chef d'oeuvre, you should check out this list of the most common mistakes people make when submitting to the CBC Literary Prizes.

1. Not respecting the word count

We are very strict when it comes to word count. Every entry we receive is individually verified, and those that do not meet the parameters do not move on--even those that are a few words above or below the word count (to see how we check, visit our FAQ). Every submission to Short Story or Creative Nonfiction has to be between 1,200 and 1,500 words, and every submission to Poetry has to be between 400 to 600 words. That's it. No more, no less.

2. Sending in work that has been published online

The CBC Literary Prizes recognizes original, unpublished work. The first place people will read our finalists is on the Canada Writes website, and the first place they read our winners is in enRoute magazine. Any stories or poems published online (including those on Facebook or personal web pages) are considered "previously published" and therefore ineligible for the prize. 

3. Including your name (and address) in the file

It's impossible to anonymously evaluate a text when you have the person's name sitting in the right hand corner of the last page. Please remove your name and any identifying information from your submission (except the title, of course). We have our own ways to keep track of who you are and what you wrote.  

4. Sending the wrong file

We get it. You just finished. You're excited. You want to submit it as quickly as possible. But before you hit send, please double check. Are you attaching the proper document? Sometimes we receive frantic emails from people who realize they've sent in the wrong version of their story. Some keep tinkering with it after it's been submitted and want to send a tighter version. By then it's too late. Once we receive a submission, it goes directly to our readers and we only accept one version of each story for evaluation.

5. Sending photos, illustrations or other media along with your submission

We've seen it all--pictures of cats, family portraits, mathematical diagrams, musical CDs--none of which gets sent along with your submission to our readers. So please, focus on your poem or story--not your pets (although maybe we should do a cat-themed Twitter challenge one day).

6. Choosing an illegible font or font size

Be sure to think about the reader when submitting to the prizes. It's hard to read something in 10 pt "Cowboy" font. Be creative with your story and not its presentation on the page. The less distraction our readers have the better they will be able to read your work.

7. Sending a story or poem to the wrong competition

The timelines for the three CBC Literary Prizes are clear on our website and if you have any doubts, please ask us. The big danger here is sending a work of fiction to the creative nonfiction competition. In the past, writers have been removed from the shortlist because the work was sent to the wrong category.

8. Not reading the rules and regulations

It's all here people. We know rules and regulations can seem long and boring. But if you have any questions about what you need to send, you'll find it here. And if you can't, email us. We respond as quickly as possible.

9. Submitting at the last minute

We know this one often can't be helped, but if you give yourself enough time it's unlikely you will make any errors when submitting to the prizes. Things tend to be rushed at the last minute, then you forget to postmark your envelope or sign your cheque, or send the wrong story or misspell your email address (which means you won't get a confirmation email from us). It's all tied together. Sure, you can procrastinate. But not to the 11th hour.

If you avoid these nine mistakes you will be able to sleep well and your humble submission team will thank you.

Good luck!!

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