Many years ago - some time before the Sinclair ZX80 1kb computer and long before the internet - my brother bought me a copy of A&C Black's Writers' & Artists' Yearbook. It was a treasure trove of information with its listings of publishers, agents and major awards, and its chapters on submitting manuscripts, copyright and marking up galley-proofs.
While this and similar other 'marketplace' books remain available (in print and online), the internet has made this information so much more accessible. Googling 'literary agents' today brings up 2,880,000 entries, while 'publishers' scores a whopping 110,000,000 listings. If, on the other hand, you're not looking for a publisher or an agent, but for a competition, then a search for 'short story contest 2009' creates 29,800,000 hits. (Tomorrow, there should be one or two more than that; once the Google spiders have found their way to this site and bitten into a few key words.) If anything, the choice can be overwhelming, although with more and more publishers, agents and literary competitions accepting email submissions, the process is somewhat cheaper and quicker than snail-mail ... if not more competitive.
Filters based on geographical location and genre can narrow the field to a more manageable quota. This can prove a major benefit of subscribing to at least one regional writers' society and for subscribing to specific literary magazines, where independent publishers in particular are more likely to place a call for submissions.
With all this is mind, I'll happily plug a short story competition that's being run by a regular visitor to The View From Here and one of this magazine's interviewees. Gary Davison, author of Fat Tuesday and Streakers, has announced a 250 word short story competition on his website (closes 13th November, 2009) and, what's more, our very own Mike French (editor of The View From Here) will be taking a seat as one of the judges. Now, there's one competition you don't need to Google.