Sometimes, winning a writing contest can be an amazing way to get exposure, prize money, and if you’re lucky, a contract.
But more and more contests are charging entry fees…and I don’t mean $5.00, either. Recently I’ve seen novel contests that were charging as much as $50.00 to enter.
Now think about it for a minute. What if you enter four contests a year? Each one costs $50.00. Personally, I think the $200.00 in entry fees would be put to much better use buying paper, printer ink, stamps and envelopes for subbing to editors and agents.
Whenever entering a contest, please do your research. Paying an entry fee isn’t always a bad thing but there are factors to consider:
- Is it a reputable contest – who’s running it
- Does the entry fee match the prize
- What is the entry fee used for
- Who’s doing the judging
- What are the terms if you win
- How many prizes are there
- Are prizes awarded based on number of entrants
- Do you have to spend more money if you win
Let’s face it, a fifty dollar entry fee for an entire novel, where the prize is a publishing contract with an established, well-known publisher, would be $50.00 well spent. However, that same fee, where the prize was a vanity press contract, would be, in my opinion, a waste of $50.00. I wouldn’t even pay $5.00 if I was entering a poem on a site where the winners were chosen by online voting. The fee has to reflect the prize.
So how do you find out which contests to enter?
- read everything you can about the contest
- ask other authors if they have participated
- ask your local librarian
- read winners’ manuscripts from previous contests
To get you started, here’s a shortlist of contests. Some charge fees – others don’t. You decide.
Writer’s Digest’s contest fees are small in relation to the prizes.
Both for MG and YA first novels. NO FEE.
For writers of fantasy and sci-fi. NO FEE
Contest for playwrights – doesn’t appear to have a fee.
This site lists a ton of contests. At the bottom of the site they tell you the types of contests they will not list, so they’ve done a bit of the research for you.
TO PAY OR NOT TO PAY.
When it comes to writing contests, that really is the question.