Update: This series no longer exists under Holly Hughes and Perseus Books. It is now published by Mariner Books and has a different guest editor each year. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org before December 31 to apply.
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You’ve thought about entering. You mean to apply. But somehow the deadline goes by and you haven’t sent in your best stuff.
This year will be different, because I’m giving you lots of notice. The deadline to send your best pieces of writing to The Best Food Writing anthology for 2013 is May 1, 2013. Your writing must have been published between June 1, 2012, and May 31, 2013. (If your piece will appear after May 1, email editor Holly Hughes, at email@example.com to warn her it’s coming.)
So think about it. Sift through your work to see what stands out and what has relevance for a wide audience. Hughes considers book excerpts, articles and blog posts. She has published The Best Food Writing collection since 2000, and it’s now a prestigious place to be recognized.
To get an idea of what Hughes likes, read the stories published in previous editions. Doing so always gives me a thrill. I recognize names of friends and colleagues and enjoy the mix of famous and new writers. There’s variety in these well-written stories, so you’ll never be bored. You’ll find a piece on Spam, one on truffle hunting, and another on Chinese take-out, to name just a few.
As the sole judge, Hughes worked as a travel book writer and editor at Fodor’s and Frommer’s, and before that wrote educational materials for high school English classes. She’s also been a judge for the James Beard Awards. I asked her about the submission process:
Q. What do you look for?
A. Pieces must be well-written, which also means perfectly spelled, grammatical, and copy-edited. That’s not always easy for bloggers who don’t have the luxury of a copy editor. I look for pieces with a clear beginning, middle, and end. I also look for pieces with some relevance beyond a single recipe or restaurant dinner. Local is good, but only if it can be meaningful to a wider audience as well. I definitely am looking for an engaging voice and clear point of view. There should be some human interest beyond just food and cooking technique. The most important criteria: the piece should make me hungry.
Q. What’s the best way to submit?
A. I actually prefer electronic submissions, although I will take hard copies if that’s all a writer has. The mailing address is Best Food Writing, c/o DaCapo Press, 44 Farnsworth St., Boston MA 02210. It’s best to send the actual book if you’re submitting a book for me to choose an excerpt.
Q. Do you charge a fee?
A. There’s no fee to submit, and I don’t mind getting two or even three different pieces from a writer. Since I organize the book into various categories, it sometimes helps to have options.
Q. Are blog posts as eligible as traditionally-published pieces?
A. Blog posts are certainly taken seriously. The only problem is that they’re often shorter than full-fledged magazine articles, and we do try to have pieces of at least 1,000 words.
To get around that, bloggers could submit two or three blog posts connected by a common thread (similarly, we’ve occasionally combined a couple of short newspaper columns into one piece). Cookbook essays qualify, as well as headnotes — although a 1,000-word headnote might overpower its recipe!
Q. Anything else applicants should know?
A. The piece will be reprinted without photos or illustrations. Many blogs depend on their photography to tell half the story; it helps to print out a plain text copy and read it without photos to make sure it still has the requisite impact.
So there you have it. Now I hope you’ll get going and find at least one piece that will delight her.
To enter, email Holly Hughes at firstname.lastname@example.org. An attachment in Word or a PDF is fine. Entries are open to writers outside the US. The snail mail address is listed above.
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You might also like:
- 9 James Beard Award-Winning Stories, and Why They Won
- Wrestling with Angels: How an Award-Winning Food Writer Crafts an Essay
- Who Thinks You’re a Good Writer?
P.S. The International Association of Culinary Professionals announced its cookbook award winners last night. Congrats to all the winners and nominees, who included former students and clients Jun Belen, Nancy Singleton Hashisu, and Michael Procopio. I was an editor for The Back in the Swing Cookbook, which won Best Health and Special Diet book.