Hey, gang. I’m here on a Tuesday because Andi has some awesomeness lined up for this coming Thursday. Stay tuned to see what it is.

It’s time once again to remind you all of the opportunities out there for entering writing contests. Writing contests kill two birds with one stone: They are a great promotional tool that gets your name out there, and they bring in a little extra money or other useful compensation.

Entering a contest and making it as far as the short list opens up your fan base. If you’re lucky enough to get on that list or (hooray!) win the contest, it’s important to jump on the train and parlay it into exposure. I once placed in the top ten of a Writer’s Digest annual writing contest (in the magazine article category) and it didn’t do a thing for me. But that’s because I didn’t take advantage of it and utilize it to sell more articles.

As for the compensation, sometimes it’s money, sometimes it isn’t. If it is money, it’s often a small nominal prize, but in my opinion, every little bit counts.

If it’s not money, it’s usually something else that writers can use: resource books, writing implements, a selection of titles from the sponsor’s line, a residency at a writer’s retreat, etc. Most, if not all contests, result in publication of your piece. The real biggies can get you to a writer’s conference, fees and hotel included.

Of course, the trick to getting these awards is to win the contest, but keep in mind that runner-up prizes can also mean money and/or publication and/or promotion.

Be aware, however, that many competitions charge an entry fee. Most of the time, it is legitimate, but be choosy about what contests you enter. Check on the source of the contest, who the sponsors are, whether they have a track record, and if they are connected to a literary agency or a vanity press.

Be very careful about so-called contests that are actually scams perpetrated by vanity presses. These companies put out a call for submissions for a contest, tell you that you’ve won, but in order to get the piece published, you have to buy the anthology that it will appear in. Unscrupulous literary agencies will run contests where the “prize” is representation. Click here for some more tips on entering contests from Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America.

And here are links to a few sites that have writing contest roundups. Good luck!

Writer’s Digest Competitions

Poets & Writers

NewPages.com

Writing Contests

Writers-Editors.com

WritersCafe.org

TennesseeWilliams.net

Writing.com (you must be a member to enter some of their onsite contests, but not all)

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