A Word of Warning: What counts as ‘Previously Published’?

I spent most of 2017 in competition mode. After writing four novels in three years, I was attempting to get some free publicity by getting longlisted or shortlisted for literary prizes. Many winners of writing competitions have gone on to be offered representation by agents.

The most foolish thing I did after returning to creative writing in 2013, was to self-publish most of my poetry, short stories and novellas online, via Smashwords and Amazon. At the time, I was unaware that this immediately ruled them out from being entered into competitions. Of forty competitions I later found that interested me, only two accept previously published work.

For the first time, I started to write Flash Fiction, with an eye on several contests. I intended to post my stories on my writers’ forum The Colony, to get some feedback until I read through the fine print of one of the competitions, which includes uploading to forums as¬†‘being published‘. It’s certainly putting my work into the public eye, though I can’t see how it would give me any advantage.

It’s something to remember, should you be chasing any contests that insist on your work being¬†‘previously unpublished.’

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