In a weaker moment I somehow found myself being persuaded to help judge some short story contests this summer. The contests remits are very different but I have found the following issues so far to be pretty universal - here follows a public service broadcast on how not to win a short story contest or get yourself published.
1. Do not copy and paste a story from the internet complete with pictures and write your name in pen on the work.
2. Do not use a font so small that the reader needs a microscope.
3. Do not use anything other than Arial, TNR or Courier as your font.
4. Do not print your entry in bold.
5. Do not put a poem in the middle of it.
6. Do not write a covering letter explaining your story.
7. Do not write a cover letter that's longer than the short story giving me your autobiography.
8. Please give your story a title.
9. Stick to the word count.
10. Do not blame the computer for your spelling and grammar errors.
11. Do not print your entry on paper with a fancy background.
12. Do not put your story in a fancy binder.