Interested in entering a writing competition?
Benefits to Entering Writing Competitions
There are five benefits to participating in writing competitions.
The most effective way to gain credibility and publicity for your book is through awards and positive reviews.
— Source unknown
The most valuable commodity of writing competitions is exposure — exposure of your work and your name. The more you get our there, the better known and more credible your work and you will become. This will also build your writer’s resume or platform (points 4 and 5).
2. Publishing Practice
There is a difference between writing for a local audience, such as your writing club, and writing for a competition. Competition writing is more formal and needs to be more carefully presented, laid out, edited and proofread. It is typically more visual than casual writing which you read aloud or present to others in draft form. There is also the benefit of experiencing the uncontrolled sharing of your work and the wait to see how your writing fares.
If you are lucky, you will also get valuable feedback on your writing. If you are given this option — if, for instance, you are asked to provide a SASE to receive your manuscript back and get feedback — take it. Feedback of contest entries are as good as reviews of published work. You can learn a lot from both good and bad reviews and feedback, and improve your writing craft.
4 and 5. Resume Benefits and Pocketable Awards
Of course, there are also the rewards. Each contest that mentions your name, particularly if you win a prize, you can add to your resume or platform. Suddenly, you have credibility. You are not only a writer or poet, you are recognized. And most contests provide some form of prize — from publication; to cash prizes; to trips to present or market your work or learn from others; to meetings with agents, editors or publishers.
Costs and Risks to Entering Writing Competitions
What is your most valuable possession when you enter a writing competition?
Your work, right? Your work!
You want to participate in a contest that will protect your work and your ownership of it.
Not all competitions are equal. Sometimes what is sold has more than one purpose. Remember, competition designers have something to gain from all those submissions. You have to be competition literate and ultimately weigh the costs and benefits of entering a contest, taking into account what is gained by you and the competition designers if you win and if you lose. We offer the following advice.
There are some things you should be aware of.
- You are offered a possibility of publication or exposure. Where? What is the distribution? What happens to ownership, copyright and your future work (if you win, if you lose)?
- You have to pay a reading fee or contest fee. There are so many contests out there that are free. Why is this contest charging an entry fee? What do you get from it?
- You don’t have to pay a reading fee or contest fee. Why not? Certainly, there is some gain to the competition designer; contests cost.
- How reliable is the contest provider? Is this its first contest or does it hold regular contests? What is the provider’s reputation? Any reviews?
- You may or may not get feedback of your entry. Obviously, feedback is desirable. But do you just get silence if feedback isn’t offered? Feedback tells you your story was read and obviously advises you where your entry worked and where it didn’t. But it also tells you that your story wasn’t just taken.
There are many more issues you should be aware of before you enter a contest. The following sites track known contests and markets, and expose the scams, pitfalls and winners out there. They are updated regularly. We advise you read them regularly.
- Writer Beware: The Blog
- SFWA Contest and Award Alert and Advice
- Beware of Reading Fee Contests
- Winning Writers Contests to Avoid
- The Truth About Writing Contests
These warnings should not scare you away from competitions. There are many reputable and great ones out there. You should be competition literate though.
So, Should You Be Interested in Writing Competitions?
You can never have enough opportunities to compete, expose your writing and build your platform (writer’s resume). However, competitions are only one way to get these benefits. Self-publication, submission to magazines and other writing hosts, posting in blogs or story-sharing sites and submitting to publishers are other routes. You must choose for yourself whether you want to participate in writing competitions. The following articles might guide you through the maze.
- Should You Enter A Writing Contest?
- Why Contests?
- Why Enter Story Contests?
- Your Ultimate Guide to Writing Contests
- 6 Things You Need to Know About Book Award Contests
- The Contest Route
- How To Win a Writing Contest (check out the comments as well)
- Tips to Improve Your Odds of Winning a Screenplay Contest
- Get Government Money to Write a Book
Writing Competitions to Enter
The Write Group lists various contests by month in this blog. Each post is updated yearly as the appropriate month approaches. We try to stay a couple of months ahead of the calendar to catch contests that deadline on the first day or beginning of the next month. But, look to other months as well. Even if the dates of further months are incorrect, the contests may still be viable.
More Writing Competitions
These sites list many more ongoing and upcoming contests:
- Poets & Writers
- The Poetry Institute of Canada Contests
- Canadian Authors Association Contests
- WordPress Writing Contests
- Writing.Com Writing Contests
- Publishing … and Other Forms of Insanity’s Listing of Free Contests
- Book Awards Curated by Bookbub
- Alberta Writing Contests
- SmartBlogger List of Writing Competitions
- Writer’s Digest Writing Competitions
- Write Group Diigo List of Competitions