Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Writing Competitions

Writing competitions are the subject over at Derek Haines' Vandalism of Words blog.

Guest blogger Tiffany A. Turbin Santos discusses her methods for picking writing competitions. I like her suggestions. As Tiffany points out, the cost of entry must be worth it. I read about a competition recently where there was a £10 entry fee (high in most cases), with a possible £10,000 prize (which is very good). However, in the small print, it said the prize awarded would be limited by the amount recovered in entry fees. So unless 1,000 people enter the prize, you won't win that advertised £10,000 (you may only win £100, or £200).

These are things to bear in mind. Is the chance worth it? Possibly. If it's a highly respected and competitive prize, it'll get lots of entrants. On the otherhand, if you're up against at least 999 entrants, your chances of winning that £10,000 prize money are greatly diminished. If your story doesn't sync with the preferences of the judging panel, it might be a waste of money you resent paying.

My own personal preference is to enter contests that are free first. Then enter prizes with a low cost but a decent prize. Then finally, if I have money left over, enter the more prestigious but costly contests, only if I think I have something which fits 80% or more with the tastes of the judging panel.

The last bit is the hardest, because it means research and (possibly) shelling out even more money as you hunt down obscure books to gauge the judges' tastes.

Duotrope's Digest has plenty of competitions in its listings. I'd probably start there, although you can also try here.

What criteria do you have for selecting contests? How have you fared?

At the moment it seems I'm making my choices wisely, because I have had a number of respectable nominations and shortlistings, but only one actual win.

Maybe 2011 will be the year, huh?

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