2007 Sonnet Competition Accounts

For reasons of transparency and because it might help anyone else thinking of starting a poetry competition, we present here what no other poetry competition seems to do: an explanation of the competition accounts.

The figures below cover the period from first working on organising the competition in the summer of 2006 through to 30 August 2008 when, apart from any extra anthology sales to come, the costs are pretty much all known. Only matters like 2007-08 accountacy fees are as yet unknown (the competition ran across two financial years: 2006-07 and 2007-08).

One important thing to bear in mind when reading the accounts is that while the competition entry fee was £7 per sonnet, there was a consistent '3 entries for the price of 2' offer and that when entries were made online, Paypal would deduct a transaction fee, a percentage commission, and in the case of non-UK currency transactions a further currency conversion commission. This is standard practice for e-commerce, but it meant that a set of 3 sonnets from an overseas entrant could reduce the revenue per sonnet to £4.41. These commissions are the reason why the entry fee revenue is not a multiple of £7. Open Poetry Ltd is not VAT registered, as while that would have enabled us to offset VAT on expenditure, it would also have meant adding VAT to the entry fee.

Entry Fees
Bank Interest
Total Income


Advertising Google Adwords, magazines and 2006-07 annual web hosting and name registration costs
Bank charges
See note 1.
Marketing Launch PR and similar
Payroll Student at £6 per hour harvesting email addresses of creative writing courses, e-zines, and other areas for publicity
See note 2.
Postage etc Mailed leaflets and delivery of boxes of leaflets to libraries etc
Printing Leaflets & bookmarks, photocopying entries
Accountancy Company set up, record keeping and 2007 audit
Legal Companies House annual registration fee
Travel Reimbursed expenses
Prize money and judges' fees
Website hosting 2007-2008: 2 main sites and 7 others directing traffic to these two
Reception For anthologised poets (room hire & drinks - Cambridge)
Total Expense
Subtotal excluding anthology
Loss on anthology as at 30 August 2008 *
See note 3.
See note 4.
*Anthology costs
Design, artwork and proofing
Printing & ISBN number fees
Postage & packing on orders
PR and marketing to launch book
Total anthology expenses

Anthology Sales (including p&p costs received) to 30/08/08
Anthology profit/loss
See note 5.

1. While the bank offers free banking for up to 100 cheque deposits per month, the last month of the competition exceeded that number. We still thought it better to deposit the cheques rather than hold them back so as to prevent concern amongst entrants.

2. The director of Open Poetry Ltd has to date taken no remuneration for the time spent building the competition website and administering entries, or indeed any other time spent on the running the competition.

3. Anyone considering printing a book should not forget that design and artwork form a major cost and also needs to consider that if one wants a book reviewed, a significant number of copies need to be sent out free to reviewers (with no guarantee of success).

4. This surplus is being held against 2007-2008 accountancy fees and website costs. It will no doubt all disappear into those two areas – mainly the accountant's pocket I should think!

5. As the competition was wholly unsubsidised, but personally underwritten, it was not possible to offer a complimentary copy to the anthologised poets. We offered a discount instead. We trust that these figures show why complimentary copies were not possible on this occasion. We are seeking sponsors for the next competition and anthology.

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Poetry competition 2007