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The Stringybark Malicious Mysteries Short Story Award

is now OPEN

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

(FAQ)

Check to see if your question is answered below. If not, feel free to contact us!

There are two reasons for charging an entry fee. Firstly, to defray expenses. Websites do not come cheaply, nor does the time involved in running a competition or printing a book of winning stories, or providing a prize, or giving the judges a ‘little something’ for the many hours they put into judging.  But the main reason is provide an incentive to writers to provide only their best work. An entry fee helps ensure this occurs. You won’t pay to enter a bit of rubbish (we hope!).

1. Why do you charge an entry fee?

2. Why did you set up Stringybark Stories?

We have been concerned that there are inadequate opportunities for writers to showcase their short stories.

3. Do you meet the Australian Society of Authors Literary Competition Guidelines?

4. Do you accept non-fiction stories?

5. Will you accept my story if it is published on my website?

6. If I submit more than one story, can I win more than one prize?

7. Can I use references in my story?

8. Can I submit a children’s story?

9. Can I submit an illustrated story?

10. Can I submit a poem?

No. Sadly we do not have the financial resources to meet all the Guidelines. When we are wealthy we shall gladly meet all the ASA Guidelines. The ASA Guidelines appear to be written for wealthy philanthropic organisations with enormous bank balances. In the meantime, we meet as many requirements as possible. As authors ourselves we are keen not to disadvantage fellow scribblers.  If you wish to sponsor a short story competition, please contact us.

Yes (except where the competition specifically calls for fiction). Why not? What is fiction and what is fact? Any re-telling of an event will have elements of fiction within it. All fiction has elements of fact. Writing is a spectrum with absolute fact (whatever that may be) at one end, and fantasy at the other.  All stories fall somewhere in between.

No. We consider electronic publishing to be the same as print publishing.  Any story published elsewhere, on your own website or someone else's, makes your story ineligible for the Award.

Yes.

Yes, but only if really, really necessary. Please put them at the end and use them sparingly.

You may, depending on the theme of the competition but it is unlikely to be to the taste of the judges. Read the conditions of the relevant competition. We do run YA (Young Adult) competitions from time to time.

No. But thanks for the thought.

You may, but as a rule our judges are chosen for their interest and skill related to prose and not poetry. The vast majority of other stories will be in straight prose and therefore judging your poem may be difficult.

11. What criteria do you use for judging a story?

12. What happens if two or more stories score the same?

13. Why was my story rejected/unpublished/did not win?

14. Do you provide feedback on my story?

15. If you publish one of my stories do I get paid for it?

16. If you publish one of my stories, do I get a free copy of the anthology?

17. Who owns copyright?  Can I publish my story elsewhere?

18. Why do I have to format my story using your guidelines?

19. Can I submit my stories late?  I have a really good excuse!

20. At uni we are given a 10% leeway on word length.  Do you do that?

21. How do I buy one of the books of short stories?

22. How do I know that you have registered my story?

23. How do I know what the judges are looking for in a story?

24. Are you going to run a competition with a much larger word limit. Say 5000 words?

25. Why don't you accept cheques?

26. Can I withdraw or replace my story?

Stories are scored on seven criteria and are awarded a score out of 50 points.  Points are allocated as follows: Interest/Entertainment (10 points), Plot (10), Style (5), Characterisation (5), Setting (5), Spelling/Grammar (5), Fit to Theme (5) and Fit for Publication (5).

That’s why we have three or more judges.  This leads stories to being scored out of 150 (or 200) points and thus minimising the likelihood of a draw.  If there is a draw the judges will get together and argue it out over a glass of red wine.


Stories are rejected not authors, so please do not feel bad if your story does not win/get published.  For specific advice on you story, consider purchasing feedback. See #14.

Yes.  But it will cost you A$15 per story. Click here for more information.

No. Please see answer 3. If you win, you obviously get the prize money  If your story is selected for publication you get that wonderful feeling that all authors want, that someone is reading your work. We would love to pay you, but sadly we can’t. Maybe next time. We will give you an ebook for free.

No, unless you are a place-getter. Please see answers 3 and 15.  Place-getters (that is, authors who are placed first, second or third) receive a free copy.  We also provide a copy of the e-book to highly commended authors. See details of the specific competition.

You own the copyright of your story. You can do anything you like with it after the competition is over. Copyright of the anthology remains with Stringybark Publishing but copyright of the individual story remains with the author.  Remember some other publishers may not publish your story if it has already been published.  When you enter our competition you are licensing us to publish your story, if we wish, in one of our anthologies (either printed or as an e-book and perhaps as a podcast).

If you don’t follow the formatting instructions for providing both your story and the coversheet then we have to do the formatting for you.  We might accidentally remove a line, a comma, some italics and not notice.  When the judge comes to reading your story and finds the formatting ‘up the creek’ they will look less favourably on the story than on those whose formatting follows all the instructions. In addition, formatting lots and lots of stories drives us mad and means that we might end up rejecting poorly formatted stories — we’ll warn you if we take that approach!

 No. That would not be fair to other competitors.

Nope.  We have a strict word length policy.  If we ask for a 1500 word limit then we expect 1500 words or fewer (excluding the title).  We may, at our discretion, allow a longer piece to be judged but it cannot win a prize.  It’s simply not fair on the other competitors.

Visit our Bookshop.  Click here.

Within seven days of submission (usually earlier) you will receive an acknowledgement email thanking you for your submission.  If you do not receive this email, please contact us.

See item 11.The other thing you can do to improve your chances of winning is to actually purchase a few Stringybark anthologies and read them. We have been going long enough now that we probably have a sample anthology for each genre - or at least one that is close. Read it and see what the judges like.

Unlikely.  At Stringybark we specialise in short stories of 1500 - 2000 words.  Other competitions offer other word lengths.

We don't accept cheques because we then have to go to a bank to process them and as most of the banks near us have shut down, we do all our banking electronically — it's a twenty-first century thing.  If you send us a cheque we will probably send it back and then the only folk enriched is Australia Post.

You can certainly withdraw your story at any stage.  No refund is payable as the administrative time has already been put into registering your story and contacting judges.  You cannot replace your story with an amended one after the closing date as this would be unfair on all other entrants and the administrative effort to withdraw your story and replace it is too disruptive to the judges.


If the competition has not closed you are able to replace your story under the following circumstances.  If your story has been registered then you will need to pay another registration fee to pay for the time in amending all the records.  If your story has not been registered then we would be happy to replace it without cost to you.