Entering writing contests can sometimes make the difference between being discovered and not as a legitimate writer. With that decision to enter comes the good, the indifferent and the investment of entering writing contests? Is it worth it?
If you are a serious writer that is looking to be taken seriously and have plans of writing a novel, which is generally what is ultimately wanted for a book deal, submitting your work to writing contests is very necessary. There are a couple of things to consider before entering writing contests to ensure your best possible chance at your work being accepted for competition.
One of the most important things is being familiar with the publication to which you are submitting your work. Do you really know what they are looking for? For instance if you write literary fiction and you are planning to submit a short story for publication, read the previous editions to find out what is accepted. Many literary magazines that publish quarterly have theme contests. Place your writing in the position of acceptance rather than rejection and that is done by knowing as much as you can about the publication to whom you are sending your work.
Most writing contests have entry fees. That is simply part of the business. If you are serious about selling your work, recognize, particularly with literary fiction or creative non-fiction, literary agents regularly find new clients by reading literary magazines. This is one of the best ways to get eyes on your work.
Many submissions to writing contests are rejected because the directions for submission have not been followed. Have someone else proof read your work. Be sure your submit your work on the type of paper requested or the proper on-line format. Many literary magazines have electronic submission processes allowing you to pay your fee and to submit your entry on-line. In most cases, when submitting by snail mail, to receive feed back you will also have to include a self-addressed stamped envelope (SASE). Ensure you include this to receive feedback on your submission. Follow submission guidelines to the letter to ensure your writing has a chance at being read.
The writing world is full of writing contests for all genres. A writer need only do a little homework to find the right publication for his or her specific genre. One of the best places to find a list of writing contests is Poets & Writersweb site. Writing contests, residencies, and even grants are listed according to genres and even deadlines. New Pages is also another great site to find information on the top writing contests and on entering writing contests.
Many writers fear entering writing contests because of fear of rejection. Like entry fees, rejection is one of the concepts of entering writing contests, and of being a writer. But if you never enter, you risk the costs of never honing your craft to the next level. An entry fee is a small price to pay for feedback or for being daring enough to continue to do what you love.