By Heather Moore
You’ve heard of them, and you may have even entered a few of them. But how can you tell which contest is worth the effort of following the submission guidelines to perfection, or if the entry fee will be worth the money?
Here is what you need to look for:
1. Do you already have something written that fits the contest guidelines? You don’t want to create something new on the spur of the moment because if you don’t place or receive decent feedback, you’ll be that much more disappointed.
2. Who are the judges? Are the judges either a) agents or editors who can get you somewhere, or b) authors who are published successfully in that genre who can give you invaluable feedback.
3. Do the entry fees seem compatible for what you are getting back? Be wary of entry fees if the grand prize isn’t something that can further your career, or you aren’t guaranteed judges feedback.
4. Find out if the contest is legitimate. How long has the contest been around for? Do you know anyone who has entered it with favorable results? Can you ask the coordinator a question?
Some blogs, such as Maria Zannini’s, will frequently compile a list of writing contests. Also, agents will posts “hook” or query contests. This is a great way to gain possible notice by an agent and receive honest feedback. You can also learn a lot from the comments made by other writers on the contest blogs.
Often if a contest is associated with a Writers Conference, there will be an award gala to announce the winners. This is a great way to gain some recognition for your bio as well as networking with others.
Just make sure you do your homework. A writing contest can be an important step in your career.