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Dorian W. Gray
02-19-2010, 05:56 AM
Hello,

I have been thinking about entering into a few writing contests. Some are no fee contests (on the top of my list) and some with mandatory fees from $5 to $50.

Currently, I am only considering contests that are offering seminars, classes/training, or residencies as a reward vs. dollars and/or publication.

I would love to hear your experiences, stories (good and bad,) thoughts and advice. Any doís and doníts, among other things, such as: how to write a Statement of Purpose or Artist's statement, required as a part of their applications.

I thank you in advance for your input.

Regards,
Dorian Gray

p.s. I hope this is the right forum for this post, if not, please feel free to move it where it belongs. Thanks.

kaitie
02-19-2010, 08:07 AM
I can't give a ton of advice or answer all your questions, but I can give you my opinion. It's going to sound somewhat hypocritical as I won a trip to a writing conference based on the contest I entered.

Anyway, in my case, I was glad that I did. I got a good prize, got to learn a lot and do something I never would have even thought to do before. On the other hand, based on what I've learned since, I'd recommend only doing it if you either a) really thought the prize worthwhile and b) were just doing it for kicks.

Many contests are nearly impossible to win. They have many entries and might actually be more difficult to win than getting your short story published in a magazine might be. Considering most have entry fees as well, you have to consider that in a lot of cases, you're paying money for something you don't have very good odds on instead of submitting in places you might have a better chance at that will actually pay you.

The second thing to consider is what you want out of it. For example, you're looking for classes or seminars, which is cool and offers you something useful. If you were looking for a writing credit, it's not really worth doing because the only contests that are useful are those that are well known that you actually win. Second place in a contest isn't good enough in the eyes of an agent. And those that are pretty big or respected are going to be harder to win. Being published in magazines tends to be a better option in cases like this, too. If you aren't doing it for the writing credit, however, it might be worth a try.

Check out any contest before you enter! Do all the research you can, see if we've got a thread about it in B&BC section, and if not make one and ask. There are a lot of shady contests out there, or things that disguise themselves as contests but are really basically vanity publishing venues. I think contests are a bit harder to determine, so it's best to really double check and make sure it's legit before you submit.

I don't know about the other bits because I don't remember ever doing them. I'm pretty sure when I entered, I just sent a cover letter and my story, though it's been so long I don't even remember.

Hope this helps some.

JulieHowe
02-19-2010, 09:17 AM
Several AW members entered the James Jones Fellowship Contest last year. There's a $25 entry fee, but I enjoyed the whole experience. Several past winners have had their entries published by major presses. You only have to submit the first 50 pages of your manuscript (if you make the first cut, you send the next 50 pages).

James Jones was the author of From Here to Eternity, so you're not sending the $25 entry fee into a dark hole. The deadline for entry is March
1st.

kaitie
02-19-2010, 10:35 AM
See, that sounds like something I might be willing to try just for kicks. :tongue I've actually had this one on my radar and bookmarked. Sounded like it might be fun.

Jamesaritchie
02-19-2010, 06:43 PM
It depends on the contest. There are a tiny few good ones, but most contests make no sense at all to me. Why pay to enter a contest where you stand very little chance of winning, even with a good story, when you can submit that story to a magazine for free, and get paid if they take it?

Magazines are writing contests, but they're free to enter, nearly always make much, much better credits, and have far, far more slots for winners than standard contests.

The average contest may have one winner per year, often selected by someone who doesn't have a clue about what's really good or bad. The average fiction magaine usually has several winners each month, and if you even come close, you get good feedback from someone who probably knows good from bad.

On top of this, if you can't sell to magazines, you certainly can't win any meaningful contest, and if you can sell to magazines, you don't need the contests.

KTC
02-19-2010, 07:22 PM
It does depend on the contest...and you do have to do your homework. This question is raised quite often here. You have to make sure you are not entering into a scam. Other than that, though...I do it. I do it often. I've won a load of money through writing contests. In 2009, I won 4 contests that paid out in cheques for dollar amounts and 1 contest that paid out in a fellowship for a writing program in Kenya. Over the years, the payout has been in the thousands...but I'm very careful and find out as much as I can about a contest prior to entering.

Be leery and be good.

LOG
02-19-2010, 11:57 PM
I don't think much of contests.

Shadow_Ferret
02-20-2010, 12:06 AM
I've never entered a contest. To me, submitting to a paying market is contest enough.

KittyB78
02-22-2010, 05:54 AM
I'm considering entering NANOWriMo

KTC
02-22-2010, 05:58 AM
I'm considering entering NANOWriMo

That's great...BUT, it's not a contest. Maybe a contest with yourself, but that's about it.

BenPanced
02-22-2010, 12:01 PM
I'm considering entering NANOWriMo

That's great...BUT, it's not a contest. Maybe a contest with yourself, but that's about it.
True. NaNo is more of a challenge, as opposed to a contest.

From the Oxford American Dictionary:
challenge - a task or situation that tests someone's abilities

contest - an event in which people compete for supremacy in a sport, activity, or particular quality

Going on those, you're only testing your own abilities when you enter NaNo. There are no prizes given for first place, second place, etc.

Phaeal
02-23-2010, 10:16 PM
The only one I enter regularly is good old Writers of the Future, which runs four times a year, with free entry and prizes way bigger than the mags pay.

If I stumbled on a contest very specific to my work, I might cough up a small fee. But I'm usually too busy torturing editors and agents to follow the contests.

brainstorm77
02-23-2010, 10:18 PM
I entered one. There was no fee and when the winners were announced some rules of the contest had been broken and well it wasn't pretty since they shut down the message boards on the site. That was my only experience.

NicoleMD
02-23-2010, 11:46 PM
The only one I enter regularly is good old Writers of the Future, which runs four times a year, with free entry and prizes way bigger than the mags pay.

If I stumbled on a contest very specific to my work, I might cough up a small fee. But I'm usually too busy torturing editors and agents to follow the contests.

Same here. I did enter a script contest once, and thought it was pretty useful since I got a solid critique (several pages) with my entry fee. Contests seem a little too subjective for me. At least with magazines, you can read a couple issues and get a feel for what they're looking for.

Nicole

Jamesaritchie
02-24-2010, 12:00 AM
The only one I enter regularly is good old Writers of the Future, which runs four times a year, with free entry and prizes way bigger than the mags pay.

If I stumbled on a contest very specific to my work, I might cough up a small fee. But I'm usually too busy torturing editors and agents to follow the contests.

That's one of the few exceptionally worthwhile writing contests.

KTC
02-24-2010, 12:01 AM
pfffft. if you win and get the cheque and cash it and it clears, they're all worthwhile. i'm still cashing cheques and smiling.

stormie
02-24-2010, 12:08 AM
I only enter a contest if there is no fee and it's worth my time and effort.
Or for fun.

There are several good free contests, like the Erma Bombeck writing contest, or the Wergle Flomp Poetry Contest, or the Highlights for Children contest.

Jamesaritchie
02-24-2010, 12:58 AM
pfffft. if you win and get the cheque and cash it and it clears, they're all worthwhile. i'm still cashing cheques and smiling.

Yeah, and if pigs had wings, we'd all have trouble getting bacon for breakfast.

KTC
02-24-2010, 02:19 AM
Yeah, and if pigs had wings, we'd all have trouble getting bacon for breakfast.

Don't bullets work in the air?

Julie Worth
02-24-2010, 02:41 AM
Hello,

I have been thinking about entering into a few writing contests. Some are no fee contests (on the top of my list) and some with mandatory fees from $5 to $50.

Currently, I am only considering contests that are offering seminars, classes/training, or residencies as a reward vs. dollars and/or publication.


Wildacres Writers Workshop (in July) has three scholarships (http://wildacreswriters.com/scholarship.html) available, with no entry fee. I've attended, and it's terrific.

Another good one is the William Faulkner/William Wisdom contest (http://www.wordsandmusic.org/competition.html). If you were to win, you'd not only net several thousand dollars ($7,500 for the novel category), you'd also very likely get a publisher and/or agent. The fee is within your range. I have two books in the contest, which closes April 1.

You've just missed the Amazon/Penguin novel contest (http://www.amazon.com/b?node=332264011)this year. It's free to enter, and even if you don't win, it could be valuable, as several hundred quarter-finalists get a full read and a review from Publishers Weekly. The reviews, however, are often harsh, and the competition is stiff, with five thousand entries in the general novel category, and two or three thousand in the YA category. There is much angst on the contest boards when entries start falling by the thousands.

The literary mag Glimmer Train (http://www.glimmertrainpress.com/writer/html/index2.asp) has a short story award for new writers. They have a cool system that allows you to follow your submission online and watch it get rejected.

Lorian Hemingway (http://www.shortstorycompetition.com/) also has a short story award for new writers, where the winner is published in the Saturday Evening Post. Not a bad thing!

(Note: Both the Hemingway contest and the Wildacres Workshop are presently advertised at the top of this page.)

Ken
02-24-2010, 04:19 AM
... there's a comprehensive listing of contests in the back of Writer's Market books. All of those are legit, I'd suppose. Never entered any, myself, except for one on AW which was fun. Felt a sense of comraderie working alongside other members here. And it was neat getting to read all the entries, afterwards.

OneWriter
02-24-2010, 07:12 AM
Many contests offer a critique in exchange for the reading fee. Since as you all know, critiques are an old fixation of mine, I have entered a couple. I should hear back from the first one in March, and in June from the second one. If anyone is interested, I can let you know about the outcome. Both fees were under $50, and given how much editors ask for a critique, they were definitely cheap!

frisco
02-24-2010, 07:33 AM
I submitted my novel to the ABNA contest twice already, and i'm sure i'll find other contests to submit it to as well. I think as long as the contest is free and offers the potential for publication/exposure/networking then I might as well enter. At least it will provide a learning experience regardless of how the book fares.

Dorian W. Gray
02-24-2010, 09:45 AM
Thank you for all of your help with the part 1-

Okay, how do you come up with a 25 pages of excerpt from your 236 pages Ė 32 chapters of novel? I have looked on the net, to little avail.

How do you determine a length from each chapter that you want to include, what parts Ė do you even have to include all the chapters?

Sure we know what we like about our book. How do we make sure that readers are just as interested in those parts of the book?

My recent beta reader, a very well read and an educated person, identified a chapter in my book that he loves that happens to be one of my least favorite chapters.

Do I give my story away in my excerpts, like I am supposed to give it away in my synopsis?

What others doís and donítís you know about.


Any links, books, thoughts? Any help would be helpful.

Thanks

Dorian

Julie Worth
02-24-2010, 10:14 PM
Okay, how do you come up with a 25 pages of excerpt from your 236 pages – 32 chapters of novel? I have looked on the net, to little avail.



Generally speaking, if someone asks for 25 pages, it's the first 25 pages unless they specifically say otherwise. Those pages should already be designed to draw in the reader. If they don't, you need to work on them.

KTC
02-25-2010, 12:03 AM
You should send 25 consecutive pages.

I've done this before and I sent the first 25 pages. This is what got me the fellowship to attend SLS Kenya in December. I wouldn't send non-consecutive pages.

James D. Macdonald
02-25-2010, 12:06 AM
What's the exact wording of the contest requirement?

As Julie says, if someone asks for 25 pages it's generally assumed to be the first 25 pages.

Julie Worth
02-27-2010, 07:58 PM
The most recent Glimmer Train contest (http://www.glimmertrain.com/shorawfornew2.html) ends tomorrow (Feb. 28). But if you miss it, they have four of these each year.

SHORT STORY AWARD for NEW WRITERS
Deadline: February 28

Prizes:

1st place wins $1,200, publication in Glimmer Train Stories, and 10 copies.
2nd-place: $500 and possible publication.
3rd-place: $300 and possible publication.

Results post on April 30. Winning story will be published in Issue 79.

Other considerations:

Open only to writers whose fiction has not appeared in any print publication with a circulation over 5,000. (Entries, of course, must not have appeared in any print publication.) Please, no longer than 12,000 words. Any shorter lengths are welcome.
Reading fee is $15 per story.