Authors Sharon Sala and Skye Taylor celebrate their contest wins in the ACRA 2013 writing contest. Large writing organizations generally offer well-run and valuable contests! (And life-size pirates)
Okay, perhaps my definition of fun differs from yours. I can remember when I started writing, submitting my writing to a contest conjured up a variety of emotions ranging from pure dread (I’d rather run naked through town) to excitement (I really could win this thing!)
But there is a lot of value to submitting an appropriate piece to a bonafide contest. I’ve injected the adjectives because you can’t submit a novel to a short story contest and you should only submit your work to contests that have solid credentials. IF you fail to consider those two guidelines, discomfort will ensue.
1) You get to work against a deadline. Professional writers have deadlines. Learn to plan appropriately so you are done, polished and submitted on time
2) You can get great feedback. Read the prizes and see if a critique by an editor, agent or published author might be one of the rewards. If it is, and you’re interested in that, go for it!
3) You might win some money! Now, to be honest, I have never won enough money from a contest prize to support myself for the year. I have however, won or placed in contests that led to sales of the piece or manuscript, and then voila! I made some money then. BUT, there are some contests in the marketplace that have great cash awards and someone will win it – might as well be you!
4) Keeps you writing with a clear goal in mind. Your writing will take on a different importance and place in your life when you have a clear goal in mind for it.
5) The prizes might include getting your work read by an editor or agent who is otherwise inaccessible. Send in your best work (nothing less will do anyway, right?) and maybe your manuscript will be read by that influential editor or agent!
So, if you’re interested in submitting to contests, there are a million worldwide. I generally source them through Writersmarket.com and search for contests which can be searched by category (i.e. short, novel, play, etc.). There are probably a large number of other ways to do this, too – I generally don’t have tons of time to devote to the search, so I fall back on the people who gather them to one place.
Write, edit, polish, submit!!! And good luck!
Here are a few I’ve come across recently –
Brooklyn Nonfiction Prize (Brooklyn Film & Arts Festival; Deadline Nov. 15, 2013 Cash prize and publication, no entry fee. See website for details: www.filmbrooklyn.org
OPEN FICTION – SHORT STORIES
Glimmertrain Press – Quarterly contests, cash prizes and publication. Fee required $19, visit website for all the details: www.glimmertrain.org.
Grub Street National Book Prize in Poetry – submit between Jan 1 and June 1 2014, Fee required: $30. Cash prizes, travel & lecture tour. Visit website for all the details: www.grubstreet.org
ALL TYPES OF CONTESTS
Visit www.writersdigest.com and check out the variety of contests, deadlines and costs for what will fit your needs. Cash prizes, publishing packages and more.
Visit pw.org/magazine for the grants and awards database to see an entire year of contests.
Catch up with you on Sunday when we check out Penny Sansevieri’s marketing advice!! Keep reading and writing. Nancy Q.