Writing Forums

Writing Forums is a privately-owned, community managed writing environment. We provide an unlimited opportunity for writers and poets of all abilities, to share their work and communicate with other writers and creative artists. We offer an experience that is safe, welcoming and friendly, regardless of your level of participation, knowledge or skill. There are several opportunities for writers to exchange tips, engage in discussions about techniques, and grow in your craft. You can also participate in forum competitions that are exciting and helpful in building your skill level. There's so much more for you to explore!

Writing Contests (1 Viewer)

Tiamat

Patron
Writing contests - do you or don't you?

I used to be pretty solidly on the "don't" train here, largely because it seemed too much like gambling. Tossing money at a thing in the hope of prestige and more money in return. Granted I've paid out $3-$5 here and there for expedited reading fees, but that felt less like gambling and more like...paying for an EZ Pass.

But I decided to try something new today, and did some contest research. A surprising number of writing contests allow simultaneous submissions, which I guess makes sense. If I've given you $30 to read my work, then a month down the line, I say never mind, don't read my work, you get to keep my $30. So I just entered four contests and spent a little over $100 in total.

It still feels like gambling, but... maybe I'll get lucky!

Anybody else do the contest thing before? Have you had any success with it?
 

luckyscars

WF Veterans
I generally support writing contests but I hardly ever enter them.

I think writing contests are great for certain people. If you have minimal publishing credits and the financial means to effectively gamble (it's not quite gambling, but given the degree of subjectivity and sheer number of entries a lot of these contests attract, it's pretty close) for a chance to fast track, it makes perfect sense. Some contests not only pay some serious money but also allow for a fairly prestigious publishing credit via whatever magazine or journal is sponsoring, not to mention the ability to say "Winner of [contest name]' on all of your future marketing...this makes a lot of sense.

There are downsides, though. The cost is the most common one but I see it less about the individual cost and more about the cumulative effect of becoming used to 'paying to play'. If you start entering contests, at what point do you draw the line? $20 here or there probably isn't a huge cost for most people, but there are quite a few contests running each year and it can become an expensive hobby. Especially considering, as mentioned, it is kind of a gamble. So, you need some element of self control. It would be super easy to enter a story you love into a contest, not get anywhere, and then continue to try until you rack up several hundreds of dollars with nothing to show. That isn't smart.

In summary: I think contests are just fine, so long as they are legitimate ones and there is some sort of strategy behind them. The contests I have entered have usually been ones for University presses which are cheaper, less subscribed, and still offer pretty decent pay off. Never got further than a shortlist, but hey. A few dollars 'lost' here and there to support honest enterprises is better to me than free submissions to trashy publishers with low production values and zero pay.
 

Tiamat

Patron
How big are the prizes? I'm thinking this could be a great way to put my kids through college!
Ha! I actually think your work would do well if you were to enter it. The grand prizes of the contests I submitted to ranged anywhere from $1,000-$5,000. There were some honorable mention prizes as well and other things for runners up. Heck, for one of them, the entry fee was $25 and with it comes a year's subscription to the digital version of The Missouri Review (which costs $24 on its own). So I mean, at least I get something out of it. I subscribe to The New Yorker too and that costs way the hell more than $24/year.
 

luckyscars

WF Veterans
How big are the prizes? I'm thinking this could be a great way to put my kids through college!

Some contests have prize money of $10,000 plus, some close to $50,000. $1,000-$5,000 is average for a good high-end contest. Much smaller amounts for semi-pro and amateurs -- Reedsy runs a free contest which is like $50 (but also free to enter IIRC). I'd say it's generally less about the prize money and more about the prestige, though.

https://internationalwriterscollective.com/7-contests-huge-cash-prizes/
 

Pamelyn Casto

WF Veterans
I love entering the smaller poetry contests (and short fiction contests). For online contests I look at my $3-$5 entry fee as a way to support a publication I like. I've had good luck with contests too. I have frequently won small first place prizes of $100 for poetry, lots of second/ third places that also paid. (I think the most I ever won for a first place poem was $150.) (I'm working on pulling together my poetry chapbook of poems that were contest winners.) Recently I entered an online fiction contest, won second place paying $50, and the editor ended up sending me $75, a free copy of the issue that had my work, and a chocolate bar. I particularly loved that dark chocolate bar.

I'm very careful about where I enter and how much in entry fees I'm willing to pay. I also have to be convinced the contest is on the up-and-up.
 

Olly Buckle

Mentor
Patron
I decided to launch myself into it, though TBH it was a way of paying my 'insolvent' daughter to do some leg work finding contests and reading through stuff to see what might be suitable. In the mean time it also gives me a bit of a platform - you say you have only been short listed, lucky, but "I was short listed for..." has got to be better than nothing if I want to go further. And I think I do, getting a bit bored of living on a meagre pension, a little supplementing would be good.
 

Matchu

Senior Member
I got a shortlist once, very, very highbrow, invited to the university of London, suffered a meltdown in the lavatories, stood up as the judges said 'one story stood head and shoulders above...' then sat down again, free wine, one of the highlights of my life. Posh people everywhere.
 

Golden_Age

Senior Member
I got a shortlist once, very, very highbrow, invited to the university of London, suffered a meltdown in the lavatories, stood up as the judges said 'one story stood head and shoulders above...' then sat down again, free wine, one of the highlights of my life. Posh people everywhere.

Ha! Sounds like a good night all things considered. The competition circuit, especially for novels (or novel openings, as that's what they ask for) is so competitive at the moment, with several hundred entries. I was longlisted for one of the few UK ones I could find this year, which was pleasing! No bites from the others though.
 
Top