I don’t consider myself a contest junkie.
I do however, consider myself a contest tactical planner.
I know writers who enter every contest that comes along. I wish, at times, that I could do this as well. But time and the money it takes to enter many of these contests can add up. And it can happen quickly. Before you know it, you’ve spent mega bucks!
It’s just not feasible for me. I’m sure many authors can say the same.
Until I can get that money tree to grow…
There are many lists on the internet that you can search through to find writing contests.
I use Stephie Smith’s contest chart.
Then comes the research.
Here’s my list:
- Is the contest worth the money you’re putting into it?
- Who are the final judges?
- Does the contest have a good reputation?
- Is my submission ready?
- Do I have a chance to utilize my contest feedback and make changes if I final?
Then I narrow down the list to which ones I want to enter the most, trying to space them so that I’ll receive my feedback from one contest in time to use any helpful suggestions for the next contest.
Sometimes, you’ll have the opportunity to enter bigger, intense contests. Marie-Claude entered the American Title V (and Won!), Jenn Bray-Weber entered the Golden Heart (and finaled!), I entered the Next Best Celler (and finaled). These are huge contests. They require time and patience and TONS of nail-biting.
There’s a lot you can gain, and a lot that will frustrate you. The negative, unhelpful feedback that sometimes comes from contest judges is a definite downer. The judge that picks your submission apart but offers great suggestions is gold. The judge that loves your submission and gushes about how great it is, is a wonderful pick me up, but less helpful if they don’t specify what exactly you did so right. And then there’s the submission that comes back blank – nothing but a score, no comments, no explanation. I think maybe those are worse than any of the others. You’ll experience an odd range of emotions as you read the comments or lack of comments.
Public contests are the most time-consuming. Especially if the winners are determines by public voting systems. You could spend everyday promoting your work, begging others to take a look, praying they like it enough to vote for you. These are much harder work, so read the rules carefully in each contest to make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into.
Some contests require they retain rights to your submission until after the contest. Some require first refusal rights if your submission makes it to a certain point in the contest. Read carefully and ask around the writing community for opinions on the contests.
Some contests are free. This can make some people leery. Again, that’s when researching the contest becomes very important.
I entered a free contest back in November. I’m currently a quarter finalist in Amazon’s Breakthrough Novel Award. I’m happy to say this contest doesn’t suck up too much time. It’s a lot less promotion and vote-tarting than other contests I’ve participated in, thank goodness, and Amazon reviewers, Publishers Weekly and Penguin Group are the ones who decide who wins the whole lot. Great thing about this contest as well, is it’s free. The winners (1 from general fiction and 1 from young adult) will get a $15K advance and a contract with Penguin. This is a WIN situation all the way around. It’s free and all you’ll pay is some serious nervousness as each round slithers closer and passes.
You can take a peek at my excerpt here CERES WRATH if you’d like.
I’ll be biting my nails until April 26th when we’re knocked down from 500 to 100 Semi finalists. Ugh.
And while I’m waiting, I’ll definitely keep up with new contest opps.
Contests! Blessing or Curse?
Do you enter them? What’s your worst/best contest experience?