Writing Contests


Writing associates sometimes ask me if I bother with writing contests.

No…no, I do not.

There are a lot of scams in writing. It’s certainly not a very profitable pastime, and there are lots of ways to waste both your time and money. Most writing contests aren’t a scam per se, but it’s probably the quickest way for a writer to dump a lot of money down the drain and get nothing back in return. A writing contest is a lot like a slot machine. Basically what you’re paying for is a chance…and usually not a very good one either. Now, imagine that you’re sitting at a slot machine, you pull the lever, you line up all the lemons (or whatever) and hit the jackpot!!!

And nothing comes out of the machine.

That’s the other problem with writing contests. Even if you do win, it doesn’t really guarantee you anything except that you can say you won a contest, and now there are so many writing contests out there that winning most of them means very little to publishers and agents.

Now, obviously if you win a prestigious contest from a prestigious magazine, that’s a different story. You win a Glimmertrain writing contest, that’s going to get you noticed. Unfortunately, those are also the contests where you’re going to run into the most heavyweights. You win a minor contest from a minor magazine, and you and your mom might be the only ones who care (moms are great like that, aren’t they?).

Personally, I think it’s a better use of time and resources to seek straight-up publication for your work. Find a magazine you enjoy and respect, find out if they accept submissions, and send them a story. It’s usually free (which is the perfect price for a cheapskate like me). Really trying to get published is a big competition anyways. In that sense, I’ve won eight writing contests in the past three-and-a-half years, and I didn’t pay a cent. Plus, listing publication credits carries as much weight as winning a minor writing competition.

At the most, I usually enter one or two writing competitions a year, and I only enter competitions that would matter if I won.  Prize money is always nice, but I feel like if winning a contest won’t get your work in front of people that matter, then it’s just something nice to put in your bio.

Plus I’m cheap as hell so nuts to all those entry fees!


~ by themoderntranscendentalist on May 29, 2013.

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