Will Award $250,000 for Best Personal Essay: Deadline Nov 15th

Friday, October 24, 2008
We received an email from the folks at about their amazing contest that will award a single writer $250,000 for personal essay writing.

Mario writes: "Competition remains exceedingly scant, and it's killing me that more writers don't know about this thing. Or maybe they assume they won't win? All I can say is that the odds are quite good, especially if you've never put pen to paper before. So dig out whatever you stuck in that drawer. Or heck, write something new. This is not the New Yorker..."

From WOW: Mario, I think the reason why you haven't received as many entries as expected is because many writers are skeptical of such a large prize, especially since we're used to being duped by the multitude of scam contests out there. That said, I know your contest is the real deal, and that's why I'm posting this here for our women writers to take advantage of. Enjoy, ladies! Enter while you still can.

Contest Details:

Deadline: November 15, 2008

Description: FieldReport is taking a new, deeper approach to internet communities that seek a more substantive form of communication. This new approach involves giving out gobs of cash to writers of personal essays. Every month, 20 essays rated highest by the community win $1,000 each, and in January, someone wins $250,000. "I believe it's the biggest payment ever awarded for a single piece of writing. That's right, category winners each get $1,000 monthly."

Enter: Visit and sign up as a writer (it's free), start writing, and have your pieces voted on for a chance to win. Good luck!

Press coverage for FieldReport:

Time Magazine: A Writing Prize for the People, by the People
SF Chronicle: Who knew it would be hard to give away a $250,000 prize for good writing?
London Telegraph: Follow the Money

Question to WOW! readers: Have you entered this contest yet? What are your thoughts about the contest? Do you think it's too good to be true?


Amy Sue Nathan said...

I don't put stock in contests judged by internet readers or writers. That makes it more subjective and variable than contests judged by mediocre almost-published writers or even great agents.

I wouldn't bother. Waste of time. A contest with no credentials carries no weight in the publishing world. And I don't believe the $250K.

Anonymous said...

Hey guys, thanks for your interest!

I assure you this is absolutely for real. We've already given away $90,000 this year.

Check out this video about one of our previous winners:

Amy, I would worry so much about the subjectivity factor. We use a patent pending Objective Rating System that boosts pieces based on quality rather than popularity.

Good luck writers!

Melody Platz said...


I would love to win the $250,000 or even the $1,000 but I can tell you why I'm hesitant to post my essays on your site: If I don't win, I can't publish them anywhere else. Literary Mags and online journals want first rights. If your readers see my work and don't vote it to the top, I can't sell it to anyone else. Then it is effectively dead and I've given it to you for free.

In the regular submission world, a writer only loses a little time by entering a contest.

I'm sure the winner of your contest will enjoy the prize. Thanks for putting it out there.

Melody Platz

Anonymous said...

It simply doesn't matter if you "think" it's true. It is. Believe me, does not write about competitions whose prizes it has not ratified. There is a small population of writers competing for the biggest story prize in history, and if you don't submit because of the time your story will be live on FieldReport, unless you are Michael Chabon, I regret to tell you that your logic is deeply flawed.

Angela Mackintosh said...

What an interesting conversation! There are a lot of good points raised.

One of the reasons I posted the media coverage is because I knew some writers would be skeptical. But it's clear to me that fieldreport is the real deal. Yes, they are giving out gobs of money, but they have the funding to make it happen.

That said, I understand Melody's and Amy's concerns, and this is something we've discussed in Premium-Green, a group for professional freelance women writers.


Writers who make a living at their writing by selling personal essays, articles etc., sell their writing to magazines or markets that pay for the first use of the piece, otherwise known as "First Rights" or "First North American Serial Rights" or "All Rights" and so on. If they "post" (which really means publish) their essays on fieldreport, they cannot sell them to another market. For instance, a typical magazine will pay $600 or so for a 1,500 word article. That's mid-range, and not even $0.50 per word, where as some markets pay $1 per word. So anon, you see, it's not about the "time your story will be live on fieldreport," it's about rights. If the writer posts their story on the site (and if it's posted, it's considered published), then the writer can no longer sell her piece to other publications for money. I hope that makes sense. ;)

I think this platform would work fabulously with fiction writers. Fiction is a very hard genre to break into, and the markets are limited and mostly low-paying. But personal essays? Now that's a different story. Most magazines publish personal essays and there are many markets for this type of writing.

In a nutshell, I think that's the reason why more serious, professional writers haven't stepped up to the plate and submitted their stories. That, and the fact that's it's peer-reviewed. Many writers consider this to be a "popularity contest," which a professional writer doesn't necessarily have time for. The fear is that even if they post a wonderfully written and painstakingly polished piece, the majority of readers won't recognize a good thing when they see it. That's because this type of contest draws a lot of newbie writers. Although, for newbies, it's a great opportunity to have your work recognized! I know at WOW! we have writers of all levels, so this contest may not be for everyone, but it certainly is for some.

Anonymous said...

In these recession days, it scares me to think just writing an essay could restore my dwindling 401K, keep me afloat for a significant amount of time in the event of an unexpected layoff and prevent my house from being foreclosed upon...just by random dumb luck. I guess I didn't look to see where all this money was coming from in the first place.

Perhaps buying a lottery ticket would be easier?

Angela Mackintosh said...


I'd say the odds are much better for winning some money on feildreport than trying to win the lottery. I used to be a semi-professional Blackjack player, LOL, so odds are what it's all about. If you have a good story to tell that you think others will relate to, why not give it a shot? Especially if you don't plan on pitching that story to another market. ;)


Anonymous said...

i like your enthusiasm and positive spirit, angela. ;)

(maybe we should consult next time i lose track of the count?)

Anonymous said...

I love the site _ I just read a really funny one about a woman who got a hairbrush stuck in her hair
You've got to read it!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing this information.Deadline has been extended.I will definitely try my luck

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