There are thousands of writing contests all over the world. Many of these contests offer some sort of publication. Whether it is a short story contest that will publish your story in a magazine or a contest that submits your book to a major agent, or a contest that offers the winner publication in an anthology for a vanity publisher, contests are one way to both gain recognition for your writing and get published—all at the same time.
Some things to be aware of when entering contests:
1. The entry fee. Almost all contests have an entry fee. Most contests are put on as fund raisers for the organization, or the entry fee is used to front the money for prizes. Either way, find out if the entry fee is per story, per poem, per article, or per group of works. Make sure you do the math and can afford entering, especially if you are considering entering many contests at once.
2. The publication requirements. Some contests will accept previously published material, but most require that the material is unpublished anywhere, including on your blog. Some contests also will not accept material you have submitted to other contests. Research the requirements thoroughly before submitting your work.
3. Know your judges. Find out who the judges of the contest are and their likes and dislikes. Remember that judges are looking for any excuse to remove your entry, not a reason to keep it. By knowing your judges, not only can you craft your writing to something they might enjoy, but you will give them a reason to keep you out of the slush pile.
Overall, contests can be an excellent way to get published and also give you a feather in your hat of credibility. There is nothing like being able to say you are an award-winning author!
Don’t miss next week’s post when we learn some contest-winning strategies from my friend Bruce Brown, who won 8th place in the Small Business Book Awards Contest, in Part I of “Bruce ‘Bares’ All!