Friday, May 20, 2011

You're the next contestant! (Part One)

All writing contests are not created equal.
Perhaps this is a widely known fact, but there may still be plenty of writers out there that don’t realize the truth of that statement.  If contests were wine tastings, some are like sampling 1987 Cabernets in the Napa Valley - you learn a lot, you come away with a better understanding of the craft, overall it’s an enjoyable experience, and you feel content in the money you’ve spent even if you don’t agree with every critic.  Other contests are like a blindfold taste test of Boone’s Farm in your back yard.  You learn nothing, know nothing, and end up feeling sick after wasting your money on nothing.
As soon as I mentioned entering contests, an experienced writer friend told me to choose wisely.  “Don’t waste your time and money or open yourself up for discouragement with contests that don't care,” she said, giving me a list of contests she knew were reputable. She also gave me things to look for when checking out a contest.  I’d like to share them with you:
1.        How long has the contest been around?  Do you know anyone that’s entered?  Speak to them about their experience.
2.       Who are the round one judges and what are their qualifications?  Are the final judges agents and editors? (That’s the preference.)
3.       What is the entry fee in relation to other similar contests? What are you getting for your $15 or $40?
4.       Do you get a score sheet or actual feedback on your submission?
5.       How many categories are there?  How well is the contest organized?
These few things will tell you a lot about a contest, especially #1.  Good luck and happy competing!


Post a Comment