Personal essays are fun to write and hard to sell. For every freelancer who places an essay in O, The Oprah Magazine or the Washington Post’s Style section or the New York Times’ Modern Love column, there are dozens with essay manuscripts sitting on their computer hard drives, waiting to make a sale.
Which brings me to FieldReport.com. The Website has put out the equivalent of a casting call for personal essays, the more the merrier, and the best ones can win thousands of dollars in prize money. There are a few catches. Essays, or “field reports” to use the Website’s lingo, can’t have been published anywhere else and have to be written by and about the person submitting them. If you want to enter, you have to agree to review and rate essays written by other participants.
FieldReport.com is backed by several Silicon Valley entrepreneurs who believe they can eventually turn the essay Website into a financially self-sustained venture. Some of long-time freelance writers I know are skeptics, especially about copyright issues. But the site has recently been written up in magazines and newspapers including Time and SFGate.com, which lends it some credibility.
FieldReport.com is doling out $1,000 for the top essay in each of 21 categories in November and December, and will give away $250,000 to a grand prize winner announced in January. If you’re interested, you can read more about the contest rules and requirements here. Irish freelancer Beth Morrissey posted this convenient list of FieldReport.com’s 21 essay categories here.