In the last 30 days, two wonderful print journals, Triquarterly and Ascent, have shifted to online only. Editors like myself love print journals struggle with budgets, rising costs, and changing postage rates. So what can I do to stave off the accounting wolves at my door? Hold a contest!

Contests are a way for us to prove to our funding source that we can make money. We use them to give back the money they provide for printing, mailing, and staff support. Really they, the accountants in admin, are very generous because any money we make from the Potomac Review’s subscriptions and contests pay for internship stipends.

I personally like the anonymous nature of contests. Anybody, published or unpublished, can win. My associate editors like the absence of cover letters. Several have told me it frees them to read with an open mind.

So I realize that everybody is offering a contest, but I think poets and writers should give it a shot. Take a chance and support your favorite magazines. If you were ever going to subscribe to us, why not submit a few poems and roll the dice.

The secret insight here is that the numbers may work in your favor. We awarded a $1000 first place and publication to a great story last year and we only received 80 entries. Know your magazine and you have a pretty good shot at winning or being a semi-finalist.

For further reading on how a poetry contest was a great success, check out Rattle Poetry’s editor Timothy Green blog post. It’s a fascinating look at how having an online presence can positively affect the amount of contest entries, as well as how to utilize the procrastination of poets (half of entries came in last two days!) .

Here’s the link to guidelines for our poetry contest. Also note you can submit online if you mail us a check.

Thanks!