Writing contests are a nice way to get recognition for your writings but many writing contests are a waste of time, with minimal prizes and negligible prestige. Yet these still are genuine writing contests and it does not hurt to submit entries there. However, some writing contests are merely a cash machine for the contest organizers and a waste of time, money and energy for the writers.
So, what to look for to avoid being conned
- Simply submitting constitutes an agreement to a publishing contract
A particularly nasty trap to spring on unwitting and trusting authors. This usually is at the very end of an online submission form. Authors, having already spent time an energy filling the – tedious and long – form tend to go ahead and click “submit” automatically. Those who realize just after submitting that they just agreed blindly to a publishing contract they have not even read might then go back and read the publishing contract they just signed for.
They are likely to lose a few god night sleep over the conditions included in that publishing contract. Conditions like granting exclusive rights for ever and on all mediums, minute or no royalties, rights to use of characters and many other such granting of rights that limit the author’s freedom to use his own creation in the future.
- Even winners have to buy the anthology in which their work is published
Specially popular for poetry and flash fiction contests, that enable the publications of numerous entries in a single volume, this type of writing contest is a money making machine for the contest organizers and of no benefit to the author. Chances are the vast majority of “contestants” are short listed for publication and therefore winning the right to buy the book – usually at a prohibitive price – for the sole pleasure of putting it in a prominent space of their bookshelf and brag about their “publishing success”
- Writing Contests with an entry fee, myriads of categories and prizes measured in prestige only
Postulating an entry fee of $69, for a website with a large following such as http://www.internationalbookawards.com/2012callforentries.html for example, a conservative estimate of 500 inscriptions will bring them the nifty sum of $34 500 in cash. Yet, the prize, over 150 winners minimum since they have over boast about their over150 categories is consists only in publication on their website and ” extensive public relation” to announce the winners. In addition they are selling awards stickers and certificates to the winners, netting them some additional income.
So, as always, looking for the fine prints before signing up for anything is a sound policy, and submitting work for a writing contest is no exception…