We’ve interviewed a lot of people on this travel writing blog and a few times writers have mentioned a contest win as the turning point when their fortunes started to change. When they got that recognition for their writing, it gave them more confidence and editors took them more seriously.
If you’ve never gotten paid for a travel story you have published, you qualify to enter a new contest sponsored by Travelex and Penguin Books. Here’s what you get if you come out on top:
- A £1,500 prize.
- A one-hour session with a Penguin editor.
Plus there are two bonus prizes. There’s an additional bonus £500 prize for the best entry by a current university or college student. Whoever is the best at plugging themselves will also get something. The person who makes the judges’ shortlist and sends the most tweets with the right hashtag will receive a set of new Penguin books.
Are you British, with a Great Travel Story Ready?
The rules are fairly simple for this contest, but they will quickly narrow the funnel until there are only a few people eligible.
First, you need to be a complete amateur. “If you’re already paid to write about travel, then this isn’t the competition for you.” I’m assuming that means paid directly rather than getting $5 a month from Adsense on your blog, but scour the fine print and be sure you qualify.
Next, you will probably speak with a British accent, one without too much of a lilt: “You have to be over 18 and a UK resident to enter (exc. Northern Ireland).”
You also have to submit something completely original, an article you haven’t published elsewhere.
If you can pass through that funnel unscathed, then you’re already halfway there. Just follow this link to the Next Great Travel Writer contest, enter your info, and paste in the story of 1,000 words or less.
Don’t sit on this if you’re interested: the deadline for entry is February 5. The remainder of that month the judges—including a Penguin editor and the blogger couple behind Two Monkeys Travel—will pick the best entries for the shortlist. Those people will presumably tweet their hearts out for a spurt and a winner will come out on top.
That winner gets fame and glory, enough money to explore a cheap country for a couple weeks, and a one-hour meeting with a Penguin editor. That last part could be worth more than the money if it leads to a contract job or getting a book idea reviewed. Many authors would pay a lot for that kind of access. After all, Penguin UK has published such travel writing luminaries as Bill Bryson, Tim Cahill, Michael Palin, Peter Moore, Peter Mathiessen, and Paul Theroux.
For more info see the contest website.
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