To celebrate our twenty-fifth anniversary of online existence, we’re happy to announce the return of our Column Contest. We held this contest annually from 2009 to 2015 and published dozens of talented writers, like Casey Plett, Taylor Harris, Ali Fitzgerald, and Vinson Cunningham. We’re excited to read and post new work from captivating, diverse voices and share it with our millions of readers.
CONTEST RULES & GUIDELINES
1. Form and content are wide open. Creative nonfiction, personal narratives, serial visual columns, political columns, travel columns, art columns, culture columns, history columns, science columns, columns about columns—all are welcome. We are looking for engaging material, in a “we know it when we see it” way. Our site is primarily known for printing funny things, but your column need not be comic in nature. Write about the subject matter you’re interested in, in the way you find most compelling.
2. Everyone is invited. Citizens of all ages and countries are encouraged to submit, provided the submissions are written in English. Multiple authors are fine, provided the authors are willing to split the prize money.
3. You may publish under a pseudonym. If your column warrants, we are comfortable with you publishing under a pseudonym, though McSweeney’s Internet Tendency editorial staff must know (and will keep confidential) your real identity.
4. Level of polish and professionalism counts … a lot. Please take your time to make your submission as good as possible. We’re looking for writers who are reliable and obsessive over their work. We also want to see that there is a well-defined vision that will carry over from the first installment to the last.
5. Length is open. In general, we find anything over 2,000 words begins to be taxing on readers when read on the internet, but if the length is justified, we’re the last ones to complain.
6. Submissions should contain the following:
- A brief description/elevator pitch of the overall vision for the proposed column (keep it short; just tell us where you’re coming from)
- One full example column
- Brief descriptions of three additional installments of your column
- A short biographical note
7. Submitting your submission. All submissions should be both pasted into the body of an email and sent as a .doc attachment. Please arrange the material in the order outlined in no. 6 above. Any submissions that fail to provide all the requested information will be ineligible for consideration. All material should be previously unpublished, including personal blogs, Facebook, X/Twitter, or whatever new thing is invented between now and the end of the contest. There is no fee to enter the contest. Submissions should be sent to email@example.com.
8. Previous winners and current or past columnists are not eligible for the column contest this time around. Friends and family members of McSweeney’s editors are also not eligible for consideration.
9. Please submit only one entry per author. Pick your favorite idea and run with it. Deadline for the contest is November 30, 2023, at 4 p.m. Eastern time. Winners will be announced no later than December 15, 2023.
10. Prizes. We have prizes. Cash prizes. Three winners will receive $1,000 and commit to writing a minimum of eight installments of their columns. In addition, columnists will be paid our regular payment of $40 per article for the duration of their columns. We also hold the right to select additional (or fewer) winners, depending on the quality of the entries.
11. Responses to submissions. You will receive notice of receipt of your entry. However, because of the expected volume of submissions, we will not be able to respond personally to each entry if they are not advancing in the contest.
12. Rights. We will hold the exclusive rights to publish and display the winning columns’ articles for 120 days after publication. After then, the rights to the work return to the authors.
13. If you have any questions that aren’t answered here, please feel free to send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.