Yesterday we talked about how to choose a conference or workshop to attend. Today, let’s look at contests.
It seems like the main thing writers look at when it comes to a contest is how much prize money will be awarded. And that’s a legitimate concern. But, first off, some prizes are things other than money – and those contests can be worth entering. The prize might be a one-on-one with an agent. That’s a pretty good reward if you’re looking for an agent. The prize might be inclusion in an anthology. If it’s a well-known or respected publication and you’re looking for pub creds, then that can be a worthwhile contest.
In addition to the prize money, consider other factors. Who is putting on the contest? What person or organization is the sponsor? Do you trust that person or group? Is this their first year for a contest? If you trust the organization and it’s their first year, your chances of winning might be better because word has not gotten out about the contest. Have they been doing this contest for many years? If so, then they are probably more organized and ready to handle entries.
Who will be the judges of the contest? Are the judges published authors? Book consultant or editors? Academics? Unpublished local critique group members? If a critique is part of the prize, then you want professionals or those with credentials doing the critiquing.
How much does the contest cost to enter? Is the pay-off and odds of winning worth the entry fee? If you’re on a budget, are you going to blow it all on one contest or divide it up and enter two or three?
If you’re considering a particular contest, do some googling and online research to see if there have been complaints or praise for it. Ask your friends and fellow writers if they have entered.
The bottom line for entering contests, like deciding on a conference and workshop, is do your homework. Don’t enter blindly.
1 week ago