From Our Staff | February 02, 2012

This year, for TMR’s 5th annual Audio Competition, we’ve decided to try an experiment. Ok, so it’s a little crazy, and we don’t really know what to expect: we’ve decided to leave the contest entry fee up to the entrants; if you decide to submit work to our Audio Contest, you choose what you feel is a fair reading fee. Your entry fee, regardless of what you pay, still gets you a one-year digital subscription to The Missouri Review.

In the past, we have always charged a $20 entry fee—an entry fee that’s fairly standard for literary-journal-run competitions these days. And while we feel that this fee is reasonable (it includes a one-year subscription to The Missouri Review, for which we normally charge $23), we also understand that the cost may be prohibitive for some very talented people—particularly in this difficult economy.

Before I give the false impression that our contest is now free to enter, however, let me be up-front about the fees associated with a literary competition and why they exist in the first place. Literary journals as big as The Missouri Review are quite expensive to run: among other things, we pay the salaries for our full- and part-time editorial staff; the salaries for the office staff; the costs of equipment, technology, and supplies; expenses for advertising and promotional events; the printing and distribution of the journal; and contributor payments (we are one of the few lit journals that pays its contributors).  Some of this money comes from grants and some from generous donors, but subscription fees and contest entry fees are another important source that we rely on to meet our costs. When writers pay to enter a journal’s contest, they are acting as patrons of the literary arts, providing the journal with some of the important funding it needs to continue to exist–and ultimately supporting themselves and others in the field.

Of course, there are also costs associated with running a contest: advertising, prize money, staff hours, etc. After receiving as many as several hundred entries, a contest like our Audio Competition might just barely break even; there are years, in fact, when TMR hasn’t broken even on the Audio Contest. Which is why making the entry fee “pay-by-donation” is a bit of a risk. But it’s a risk that we feel is one worth taking: We would like you to be able to enter our Audio Contest regardless of your ability to pay. If you feel that you can afford the standard $20 or even a little beyond that, know that we very much appreciate your support. But if $5 or $10 is all that you can pay at this point in time, we will still be grateful for your donation and happy to consider your work. And rest assured that the entries are blind; the amount that each entrant pays will not be recorded anywhere in connection with his/her payment.

Please spread the word and help make our experiment a success!