Contests: love ’em or leave ’em?

So you’re a writer with a limited budget. (Goes without saying doesn’t it?) Should you spend your hard earned money to enter a writing contest? There are varying viewpoints on this, but speaking as one who has both won and lost multiple contests, here are my tips on how to decide.

1. The entry fee should be manageable. Chances are, you’re not going to win (I know that sounds harsh, but those are the facts), so look at it more as an investment in your writing career. The act of entering will cause you to polish up that prose and whip your manuscript into shape so that’s worth something right there. If the fee is too high, let that contest pass. There are many small contests with manageable entry fees out there. Every one you win or even final in, is a kudo for your resume and your website.

2. There should be an attractive prize to gain. This doesn’t mean there has to be a publishing contract or a cash payout. Sometimes the payoff comes in getting your work before experienced writers and agents. If it’s a contest where written feedback is given, that may be a goldmine of opportunity to improve your writing. How else might you have a chance to have some high level people in your profession eyeball your work?

3.  The contest should have a credible organization behind it. I remember one contest I entered, sponsored by a small romance writers group, fell apart when the woman in charge of my category sort of, well, left town. Never did find out how I did in that one! Romance Writers of America sponsors the Golden Heart (prepubbed) and the RITA (published) and the American Christian Fiction Writers hosts the Genesis (prepubbed) and the Carol (for published work)  which are two great ones to start with.

Here’s a link to a bunch of contests that I’ve had good success with over the years.

So have you ever won a contest? What did you win? What contest would you love to win? Speaking of contests…giving away an Amazon gift card and signed book this month! Comments cherished! image

11 responses to this post.

  1. I enjoy entering contests for books and gift cards. Yes, I have won several – that’s how I learn about new authors.



  2. Posted by Patrice P. on June 30, 2014 at 11:37 am

    I have never entered a writing contest or any contest where I have to pay a fee. I have entered sweepstakes and free contests. I have won books from a few different authors and some gift cards, which are always a nice win! It would be great to win a basket full of chocolates, other tasty foods and some books to read while doing all that snacking.



  3. Posted by Shanda on June 19, 2014 at 11:02 pm

    Entered Killer Voices recently, not sure if it qualifies as a contest as multiple “winners” may be possible, but I learned that I can write 6K a day when pushed and meet deadlines. There were rounds/stages to get through, though. And I will get feedback on a full ms, so that is a golden opportunity for which I am thankful. And it was free. I do like free. 🙂 Thanks for the link, too. May get contest fever.



  4. I havent entered a writing contest but I have entered book giveaways Im totally blown away when I win but I have an ulterior motive, I love to encourage the writer and the reviewer with Gods love
    God bless you Have a terrific week please



  5. Posted by Mechemom on June 19, 2014 at 7:07 pm

    I don’t think I’ve ever entered a writing contest … but I did once win a local debating contest, which meant I got a coffee-table book (photos by Prince Andrew), and an invitation to the provincial debating finals, which left me absolutely gob-smacked.



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