View Full Version : Paying to enter a contest?

09-09-2008, 12:46 AM
Hey guys,

I'm curious how you all feel about paying the reading fee charged by short story contest publications (ie Glimmer Train)?

They pay out pretty reasonable prizes for 1st-3rd place, but charge a $20 reading fee to enter.

I've read lots of people who enter contests with $5 entry fees etc, I know the general feeling people have is that writer's shouldn't be paying money to have their stuff read, and I don't really feel good about it. But it seems like most good, big contests do have entry fees, so is this the exception or what?

09-09-2008, 12:58 AM

I don't pay to enter contests, even when legit they give you that scam feeling. If these people who organize contests don't have money, the solution is not to collect money from all writers and give that money to one writer (gambling anyone?). It doesn't take long to realize when a written piece is any good or not, usually you can tell by the first few paragraphs.

My cent worth,


09-09-2008, 01:02 AM
Glimmer Train is the only publication where I would pay the entry fee. The publication is that good and that prestigious. On the other hand, I'd rather forego the fee and submit during their open submission periods.

Lady Cat
09-09-2008, 04:41 AM
For me it would depend on how much the entry fee was and whether or not I could afford it. So far I've only entered contests that are free . . .

Do you get a critique back for the reading fee? That would probably be the deal breaker for me. Even if you didn't win you might get some good feedback.

Susan Breen
09-09-2008, 04:46 AM
I think it's worth doing for novel contests, because there aren't many of them and it's a great credential if you get somewhere. But for short stories there are an awful lot of magazines, and I think you're better off just submitting places. You can wind up spending a lot of money. Good luck!

09-09-2008, 06:19 PM
I paid once, for a Glimmer Train contest, and didn't even get an email notifying me the contest had ended, along with my hopes. (Why don't we have a Drama Queen smiley?) Yeah, I think I'll save my money from now on, though, as Susan says, some novel contests are worth considering.

The four stories I've placed so far I placed through straight submission, for the price of an SASE, or even for nothing, on the e-mail subs.

That said, if you've studied Glimmer Train and believe you have a story after its own heart, give it a shot. At least the prizes are substantial.

09-09-2008, 07:04 PM
Just go with your gut. Glimmer Train is a great pub with a fairly wide audience. Just check around the contests you're entering. If their website looks like it was created by a guy living in a van down by the river, pass. If it looks good, the reward is proportional, and the audience or accolades are worthy, go for it.

09-09-2008, 09:11 PM
I've paid to enter the CBC Literary Awards (http://www.radio-canada.ca/prixlitteraires/) before--I'm reasonably sure they are not a scam. I have no problem with paying a nominal fee to enter a reputable contest.

09-10-2008, 12:04 AM
I usually don't enter contests for short stories, etc, where you have to pay. Key word here is usually. Once or twice I have, for magazines like Glimmer Train. But Glimmer Train does accept standard submissions, too, without entering their contests.

If you have the money, you think you have a good chance of winning or placing, and it's a good magazine, go for it.

09-10-2008, 05:38 AM
It's a great one to have on your permanent record too...if you win it. Very reputable.
Alas, that hasn't happened yet. :D But maybe one day....

09-10-2008, 04:21 PM
I'm not even sure who I'm paraphrasing here--Uncle Jim?--but every magazine and ezine is running a no-entry-fee contest. They call it 'submitting.'

Although I've entered a few contests, and won some, most do nothing to further my writing career [<--Maryn snorts at the term]. I doubt if I'll submit short fiction to a contest again unless it's one of the biggies like Glimmer Train, where a win is a big deal to publishers and agents.

Be aware that there are a lot of fiction contests that exist only to make money or promote someone else's career, with judges who are unqualified, rigged winners, and prizes which include POD books nowhere near as good as most of the entries. Contests with an entry fee should always pay the winner at least 100 times that entry fee and/or confer great status, like Glimmer Train or The Nicholl.

Maryn, older and wiser