writing contests

Writing Contests

Hey Lovelies!

I wanted to talk a little bit about writing contests today. Today’s post isn’t going to be a super long one and I’ll make sure there are some links to some contests for you all to enter into – if you so desire. Next week we’ll talk about freelance writing and ghost writing. Plus, you get a bonus post from me on Valentine’s Day – subject matter to be determined.

Writing contests have some good sides and some bad sides to them. The main plus, especially if you’re trying to get published and established as an author, is that it does get you a bit of notoriety and published. Which we all know means that we have a slightly better chance of having a publishing house pick up our novel.

There are other things that you need to consider, however, when you’re looking at entering a writing contest. So, here’s a list of things that you’ll want to consider before you submit your work to a contest:

  • Make sure the contest is a reputable one. Now this isn’t to say that you can’t enter any contest you want. There are a bunch of site out there that hold many contests over the course of the year — I’ve been told that they’re contest factories. Those are fine, but if you want the notoriety then you’re going to want to be a bit more selective with the contests you enter. The rule of thumb here is that you should look for contests that have been around for several years and are an annual event.
    • Here are a couple more questions to ask yourself and the contest about:
      • Who are the sponsors and organizers? Depending who is sponsoring or organizing the contest will determine how much esteem it’ll have. You know the weight of a win from a The New Yorker contest will mean more than your mechanic’s writing contest will.
      • Who are the judges? Judges can usually make or break a contest’s reputation. Some of them don’t disclose the judge’s names. They affect whether people enter a contest or not. If they’re really good at what they do and give the winner accolades, then you might want to enter. If they’re known to be very harsh then you might not want to.
  • Is the entrance fee worth it if you win? This is entirely up to you. If you think that ten bucks is a good bet if you get x, y, and z back if you win the contest then that’s great! If that ten bucks doesn’t get you anywhere but a mention on some unknown person’s personal blog then you might not want to enter this one.
  • Will it help your credentials in the literary world? Well, if you haven’t published anything – ever – then totally go for it. It could seriously help you out and give you a good self-confidence push if you win. If you’re a Pulitzer prize winner, then it probably won’t do much.
  • What are your odds of winning? Well-known ones—attract high-level, professional writers. These are the contests you should really want to win, by the way. Other contests attract hobbyists and new writers. Often, you can determine this by looking at the lists of people who have won in the past, judges, and affiliates.

Now, I know that the big league contests are daunting in the extreme – I have yet to enter into one of them myself. There are a couple different options you can explore if you want to try one out. There are free writing contests out there that you can enter. On top of that, if you are already a member of a writing guild, they also hold contests (usually free for members) that you can enter into and get some good feedback from. Also, look for university literary magazines or any sort of literary magazine – they do hold contests every now and again. They will almost always publish your work and some come with generous money prizes – plus most of them are generally free to enter.

Here are some overall pros and cons of entering writing contests:

  • The Benefits:
    • Prize monies can be quite good. Who doesn’t like winning money? Or free trips, university tours, agent representation, publication or publicity? It all can definitely help get you into the spotlight.
    • You could be critiqued by industry people. They will for sure know if your work is going to make it into the publishing house world. On top of that, you could sign with an agent or a publishing house if they are really blown away with your work.
    • You can ad your winnings and prizes to your portfolio. This can help boost your credentials and get you a great publishing deal. It can also help you sell more of your work if you’re an already established author.
    • They give you a reason to write. If you’re in a dry spell or are a big procrastinator then deadlines can be your friend.
  • The Drawbacks:
    • Entry fees will add up. If you are submitting to ten different contests and have to pay ten dollars each time you submit then you’re already out a good chunk of cash. So try to be discerning about what you enter and how many times you’re entering.
    • Some are scams. A lot of the time the prize is just a subscription to a magazine or only really benefit the people hosting the contest. So just make sure you do your research people.
    • Rejection is exhausting. You will probably hear a lot of no’s before you get that coveted yes. So, focus on the positives and if it’s not working go back and look at your own writing and what needs to be improved. I know it’s going to be hard to face rejection, but that’s the name of the game in writing and sometimes we’re going to get down about those rejections. So, keep your chin up and get your boogie dance ready for when you do win.

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As I promised, I am going to leave you all with a couple links to some websites that list writing contests for us writers. There will be free and entry fee require postings. Here are those links:

The list is by no means complete or legitimate, so please do your research, but it’ll give you a start.

That’s it for today! I’ll talk your ear off next week on Tuesday! Have a great weekend everyone!

Until next week!



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Danielle Adams

Danielle Adams

Danielle Adams is a writer and editor for a local marketing agency. She has formerly worked as a writer for the Investing News Network and as an editor for Whetstone, a bi-annually published literary magazine. Aside from writing, Danielle has an unabiding love for all marine life and the outdoors. She loves taking long hikes with her husband and cooking delicious meals in the kitchen.


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