2023 Excellence in Craft Contest: How to enter your work starting November 1, 2022

Buffalo running through a dust cloud
1st Place photo in the Fauna category (2022) “Dustbuster” by Paul Queneau

It’s that time of year again! Leaves are changing color, temperatures are dropping, and OWAA’s Excellence in Craft Contest is opening! Mark your calendars for November 1st to enter your work for the 2023 Excellence in Craft cycle!

If it is your first time hearing about OWAA’s Excellence in Craft Awards, we invite you to take a look at last year’s winners. You can find their work here, or keep an eye out in our next edition of Outdoors Unlimited

The Outdoor Writers Association of America annually recognizes exceptional work in outdoor journalism through its Excellence In Craft Awards. The 2023 contest will open for entries on Nov. 1, 2022 with three rule changes approved by the OWAA Board of Directors:

  1. Outdoor Fun and Adventure is now titled Outdoor Adventure and will include travel pieces.
  2. There will be an Open Category for work that may not fit into other EIC Contests. This would include mixed media, social media, print or broadcast series, or other media types. Submissions in the Open Category cannot be submitted to another category. 
  3. The Graphics/Illustration Contest is expanded to include any type of image, including infographics, data visualization, computer-generated graphics or computer-generated videos, etc.

Interested in how to submit? Check out the rules and guidelines below! Guidelines and category rules will also be posted on OWAA’s Submittable homepage under EIC Contest. And, as always, members can find the rules in our fall issue of Outdoors Unlimited

Entry Process

The EIC Contest is open to all OWAA members in good standing (i.e., your membership dues status is current).

All entries must be outdoors related and a professional work, meaning the member received direct payment or otherwise derived income through advertising or other sponsorship related to the entry, or the member donated work to a non-profit organization for a fundraiser.

First-, second-, and third-place winners will be selected in 11 platforms  – Blog, Book, Column, Graphic/Illustration, Magazine, Newspaper, Photography, Photo Essay, Radio/Podcast, and TV/Webcast/Video, and the new Open Contest.

The Blog, Magazine, Newspaper contests include seven topics: Conservation or Nature, Fishing, Gear/Technical, Humor, Hunting or Shooting Sports, Family Participation/Youth Outdoor Education, or Outdoor Adventure.

The Radio/Podcast and TV/Webcast/Video contests have the same topics, minus Humor.

The Photography Contest has seven topics: Action, Fauna, Flora, People, Scenic, Family Participation/Youth Outdoor Education, and Outdoor Adventure.

The Book Contest has two categories: General Audience and Youth Audience.

The Column, Graphic/Illustration, Photo Essay, and Open Categories do not have separate topics.

All entries must be published, broadcast, or sold during the contest period – Jan. 1, 2022 through Dec. 31, 2022, except the Book Contest (between Dec. 1, 2020 and Nov. 30, 2022).

Direct all questions about entries or the entry process to the Contest Coordinator at eic@owaa.org.

Submissions

All entries, except Books, must be submitted online through Submittable. (See below for mail-in instructions for the Book Contest.)

If you are new to OWAA or entering the EIC Contest for the first time, begin the entry process by creating a free account at Submittable (https://owaa.submittable.com). Submittable accounts created for previous EIC Contests are still valid with the username and password used to create the account.

Visit https://submittable.help/en/articles/904856-how-do-i-submit for help setting up an account.

Your Submittable account gives you access to EIC entry forms. Each contest (e.g., Blog, Photography, etc.) has a specific entry form. Entry fees are tied to that specific contest. For example, pay your Blog entry fees on the Blog form, Photography entry fees on the Photography form, and so on.

You may opt instead to pay by check for all entries at once, payable to “OWAA EIC Contest.” Check instructions will be provided.

Checks must be postmarked by the applicable entry deadline.

THE ENTRY DEADLINE IS MIDNIGHT EST, JANUARY 31, 2023, EXCEPT THE BOOK DEADLINE WHICH IS MIDNIGHT EST DECEMBER 1, 2022.

Entry Fees

The entry fee for all contests is $15 per entry.

Entries (other than Book Contest) submitted after midnight Jan. 15 but before midnight Jan. 31 will be charged an additional $10 late fee.Entri

Entry fee payment must be submitted through Submittable using a credit card or by mailing a check. PayPal payment will not be accepted.

All Submittable online payments are tied to the specific media category being entered, so you can only process blog entry fees in the blog form, column entry fees in the column form, and so on. In other words, while you can make one payment for multiple blog entries in different subjects, the system currently doesn’t allow bundling entries from multiple media categories into a single payment. We recognize this is an inconvenience and will try to update this process in the future. You may, however, submit a single check for all entries in all categories and subjects.

If paying by check, checks must arrive before the contest deadline.

*Members are required to pay their 2023 dues before submitting entries

General Rules

•       Except for the Book Contest, all entries must be submitted online (instructions below). No mail-in entries allowed.

•       Members may submit up to two entries each in Book, Column, Graphic/Illustration, Open, and Photo Essay. (NOTE: Entries in the Open Contest may not be submitted to any other contest.)

•       Members may submit up to two entries per topic in Blog, Magazine, Newspaper, Photography, Radio/Podcast, and TV/Video/Webcast. For example, two entries in Magazine/Fishing or two entries in Photography/Scenic, etc.

•       Members may submit one work in multiple categories if the category description applies. For example, a Photography/Action entry also may qualify for Photography/Fauna, or a story on fishing that includes information about the gear used may qualify for Magazine/Fishing and Magazine/Gear-Technical.

•       Members are expected to enter their own work by creating a free account in Submittable (https://owaa.submittable.com). This eliminates the chance an entry is inadvertently submitted twice (once by the member and once by a co-worker, editor, or someone else). In such cases, the second submission will be disqualified.

•       Entry fees for disqualified submissions are not refunded.

•       Contests or topics receiving fewer than three entries will be canceled and entry fees reimbursed.

•       Contests or topics receiving only three entries will award only first- and second-place prizes.

•       Entries submitted during a previous contest year that have simply been re-published or re-broadcast are not eligible.

•       A second or later edition of a book may be entered in the Book contest if 1) at least 20% of the content is new material, 2) it was republished within the contest dates, and 3) the original version was not entered in a previous OWAA EIC Contest.

•       Book contest entries are not returned to the author but instead donated to the Book contest judges (per Board directive in 2000).

•       Co-authored, co-photographed and co-produced creations may be entered only once in a category, regardless of how many people received bylines/credits. For co-authored, co-photographed and co-produced entries, all authors/photographers/producers must be OWAA members except in the Book Contest in which only one author must be an OWAA member. The prize will be split among the co-authors/photographers/producers and one certificate will be awarded with all co-authors/photographers/producers’ names on it.

•       A letter of verification from the editor or publisher must accompany newspaper and magazine entries published under pen names.

•       Family or friends may enter deceased OWAA members’ works published or broadcast during the contest year.

•       Award certificates and checks are made out to individuals, not organizations, publications or broadcast stations.

•       Entry constitutes a waiver of copyright restrictions on reprinting or reproducing entries by OWAA to promote the organization and the EIC Contest.

Blog

The entry must be published on a regularly updated website or web page.

Magazine

The entry must be published in a printed magazine or on a magazine website.

Newspaper

The entry must be published during the contest period in a printed newspaper or on a newspaper website.

Categories (for Blog, Magazine, and Newspaper): 

CONSERVATION OR NATURE — Emphasizes conservation successes or challenges; interesting new discoveries within nature; or a fascinating tale about a creature, plant, or ecosystem.

FAMILY PARTICIPATION/YOUTH OUTDOOR EDUCATION — Recognizes excellence in communicating the value and enjoyment of family participation or youth education in the

outdoors.

FISHING — Includes freshwater and saltwater using any tackle. Emphasis should be on human interest or adventure.

GEAR/TECHNICAL — Includes informative or instructional stories about gear, e.g., how to use outdoor equipment, or other how-to topics related to the outdoors.

HUMOR — Better be funny or amusing.

HUNTING OR SHOOTING SPORTS — Includes hunting for both large and small game, or competitive or recreational shooting, using archery, firearms, or other methods. Emphasis should be on human interest or adventure.

OUTDOOR ADVENTURE — Recognizes excellence in outdoor recreation stories from non-consumptive sports. This includes, but is not limited to, camping, backpacking, boating, hiking, wildlife watching, skiing, orienteering, mountain biking, travel, or other outdoor activities that are not fishing or hunting.

Radio/Podcast

Encompasses all forms of audio-specific production. Entries must be submitted as originally produced for air, podcast, or subscription.

Television/Video/Webcast

The entrant must select one or more of the following roles on the entry form: Producer/Director, On-Camera Talent, Videographer, and/or Editor. The entry shall be judged only for the designated role in the production.

Categories (for Radio/Podcast and Television/Video/Webcast):

CONSERVATION OR NATURE — Emphasizes conservation successes or challenges; interesting new discoveries within nature; or a fascinating tale about a creature, plant, or ecosystem.

FAMILY PARTICIPATION/YOUTH OUTDOOR EDUCATION — Recognizes excellence in communicating the value and enjoyment of family participation or youth education in the

outdoors.

FISHING — Includes freshwater and saltwater using any tackle. Emphasis should be on human interest or adventure.

GEAR/TECHNICAL — Includes informative or instructional stories about gear, e.g., how to use outdoor equipment, or other how-to topics related to the outdoors.

HUNTING OR SHOOTING SPORTS — Includes hunting for both large and small game, or competitive or recreational shooting, using archery, firearms, or other methods. Emphasis should be on human interest or adventure.

OUTDOOR ADVENTURE — Recognizes excellence in outdoor recreation stories from non-consumptive sports. This includes, but is not limited to, camping, backpacking, boating, hiking, wildlife watching, skiing, orienteering, mountain biking, travel, or other outdoor activities that are not fishing or hunting.

BOOK/E-BOOK

A work of 30 pages or more on any outdoor subject. A book can be entered in only one Book category. Special deadline: The submission deadline for this contest is Dec. 1, 2022. No exceptions.

Categories:

GENERAL AUDIENCE — Must be a factual and informative book about an outdoor recreation or conservation topic.

YOUTH AUDIENCE — Must be a factual and informative book about an outdoor recreation or conservation topic and written for a youth audience.

COLUMN

The entry must be published in a newspaper, magazine, or blog. Three samples are required per entry so they can be judged as a body of work. Samples should express and display opinion, analysis or perspective featuring the writer’s voice; good storytelling across more than one topic also is welcome.

GRAPHIC/ILLUSTRATION

Open to any graphic/illustration, including infographics, data visualization, computer-generated graphics or videos, etc., that are based on outdoor recreation or nature. Must be published in a newspaper, magazine or online. Cartoon/cartoon strips accepted. (Excludes photographs.)

PHOTOGRAPHY ESSAY

A series of 3 to 20 photographs around a common theme or that tell a story through images related to the outdoors/nature. Black-and-white and/or color photos. The photographs must be published together simultaneously in a printed newspaper, news website, magazine, online magazine, blog; displayed as a cohesive collection as fine art in a gallery (e.g., exhibition

where at least one print sold); or otherwise created revenue for the photographer or a nonprofit organization as a donation by the photographer, during the contest year.

PHOTOGRAPHY

The entry must be published; sold as fine art in a gallery, on a website or other public display; or otherwise created revenue for the photographer or a nonprofit organization as a donation by the photographer, during the contest year. Black-and-white and/or color photos are eligible.

Categories:

ACTION — Captures action (movement, motion) in an outdoor subject.

FAMILY PARTICIPATION/YOUTH OUTDOOR EDUCATION — Recognizes excellence in communicating the value and enjoyment of family participation and youth education in the outdoors.

FAUNA — A wild animal, bird, fish, insect, or other live creature is the main subject in its natural setting. Human beings are excluded from the subject matter.

FLORA — Wild plant(s) is the main subject in its natural setting.

OUTDOOR ADVENTURE — Recognizes excellence in non-consumptive sports. This includes, but is not limited to, camping, backpacking, boating, hiking, wildlife watching, skiing, orienteering, mountain biking, travel, or other outdoor activities that are not fishing or hunting.

PEOPLE — Primary subject is one or more people in an outdoor setting.

SCENIC — Portrayal of a landscape or other outdoor scene in which the general view, rather than a specific person, animal, or plant, is the theme of the image.

Open

Open to work that may not fit in other EIC Contest. This would include any mixed media, social media, print or broadcast series, or other media types that don’t fit in other print or digital contests. Any submissions in the Open Contest cannot be entered in another contest.

Prizes

Cash prizes and certificates are awarded to the top three entries in each platform/category, except where there are only three entries. In such a situation, only first and second place will be awarded. Judges have the discretion to award honorable mentions. If no prizes are awarded in a contest due to insufficient entries (two or less), entry fees will be reimbursed to participants.

Prize money for award winners is based on a combination of entry fees and sponsorship donations.

Prize money may be donated back to OWAA if the winner so chooses. Thank you and good luck on your entries!

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