If this FAQ does not answer your questions, or if you’re just more comfortable conversing with a real person, please feel free to address any queries to Charlotte Ashley at fomsscontest@gmail.com.

If you are looking for information on the prizes awarded to the winner and runners up of the Friends of the Merril Short Story Contest please see the Prizes page, or the Prizes and Payment section of the Contest Rules page.

The following FAQ reflects the changes made to the contest for the 5th Annual contest.

Q. Why run the contest?

A. The Friends of the Merril Collection run the contest annually to raise awareness of, and funds for, the Merril Collection of Science Fiction, Speculation and Fantasy, which is a special collection of the Toronto Public Library system. The Friends of the Merril Collection already do this through sponsoring author readings, book launches, and other related events, as well as the publication of an outreach publication, Sol Rising. These efforts were first expanded in 2011 to include an annual short story contest, both to allow us to get talented people some exposure (and a financial boost in the bargain) and to continue our aim of sponsoring the Merril Collection in the process.

Q. Who is the contest open to?

A. The contest is open to applicants of all nationalities, without restriction. If you are not age of majority in your place of residence you must obtain the permission of a parent or legal guardian to enter.

Q. Who is the contest not open to?

A. Contest staff are disallowed from entering the competition.

Q. What do you mean by “speculative fiction”?

A. Science fiction, fantasy or horror, as well as genres like magic realism, slipstream or fabulism, etc. If you’re still not sure whether your submission would be appropriate, please query us at fomsscontest@gmail.com.

Q. My story contains explicit/adult content. Is it still an eligible entry?

A. As we are no longer publishing the winning stories there are currently no restrictions on content or subject matter. Send whatever you want (as long as it meets our other guidelines) and we’ll read it.

Q. Will you accept a reprint entry?

A. We only accept original, previously unpublished entries. We will, however, accept a story that originally appeared in another language and has been translated into English before being submitted to the contest.

Q. What is the maximum word count for entries?

A. 6,000 words.

Q. How many entries can I submit?

A. There is no restriction on the number of stories you may submit, but each entry must be accompanied by a separate entry fee.

Q. Will you accept simultaneous submissions?

A. Yes! We encourage you to try to add a contest win and $500 to your best story’s prospects.

Q. How can I submit my story?

A. You can submit an electronic copy (attached .doc, .docx or .rtf files only please) by e-mail to fomsscontest@gmail.com. We ONLY accept electronic submissions.

Q. What do you need in the attached cover letter?

A. We’ll need your name and contact info (mailing address, telephone number and email address), as well as your story title and word count. We’ll also need to see your PayPal Transaction ID (it’s 17 characters long and composed of letters and numbers) so we can confirm payment.

Q. Can I submit my story and payment by snail mail or by hand?

A. This year, we are only accepting submissions by email. If you have extremely extenuating circumstances that prevent you from submitting and paying online under any circumstances, please query fomsscontest@gmail.com.

Q. Do you confirm receipt of my entry?

A. We try to confirm receipt of entries within one week’s time (by e-mail). If you don’t hear from us within two weeks you should send a query to fomsscontest@gmail.com in case your entry got lost in transmission. Please use the words “Query: Receipt – Story Title” in your Subject line.

Q. What is the deadline for submission?

A. All entries must be in no later than 11:59:59 p.m. EST, April 23rd, 2017.

Q. When should I pay the entry fee for my submission?

A. Please pay the entry fee before you submit your story since we can’t start reading your submission until we can confirm you’ve paid the attendant fee.

Q. I don’t have a PayPal account. Can I use their system anyway?

A. Yes. You don’t need to have a PayPal account to use their system.

Q. Do I need to manually convert my entry fee to Canadian currency?

A. If you pay by PayPal, their system will automatically perform the appropriate currency conversion for you.

Q. I know there are scam contests out there. How does one tell them apart from real contests?

A. It’s not always easy, but websites like SFWA’s Writer Beware, and Moira Allen’s article “Writing Contests: When Winners Are Losers” are a good starting point for keeping an eye out for false or misleading contests. Also, websites like Ralan and Duotrope keep regularly updated information on contests, and vet them before they approve a listing, so they’re good places to look for safe contests to enter. For the record: we’re not currently listed on Duotrope (though we used to be) because we ceased offering publication of the winning stories.

Q. How do I know that the Friends of the Merril Short Story Contest is on the up and up?

A. 11 reasons. 1. Our prize amounts are fixed and guaranteed, regardless of how many entries we get. 2. We’re upfront about the fact that this is not only a contest, but a method of exposure and fundraising for a group that actively aids and promotes a special collection of the Toronto Public Library system. 3. We have a clearly defined number of winners. 4. We don’t claim any rights to your stories, period. 5. The contest is run by a library Friends group tied to an internationally respected Canadian special collection of the Toronto Public Library system. 6. You don’t have to come to us or go chasing us to receive your prize money – we’ll either get it to you via cheque or PayPal, whatever’s easier for you. 7. You don’t have to purchase any kind of publication, membership, or other item or service to claim any part of your prize. 8. We perform blind judging to avoid showing favouritism to “name authors”. 9. We list the contest judges on our website to ensure a sense of transparency in the adjudication process. 10. We’re now in our 4th year of running the contest so we’ve got experience under our belt. We know what we can do and what we can’t, and we’re not making promises we can’t keep. 11. If you have questions or concerns we have real people you can contact – either Lorna Toolis of the Merril Collection at ltoolis@torontopubliclibrary.ca, or Charlotte Ashley at fomsscontest@gmail.com.

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