Should You Enter That Writing Contest?

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After editing and rewriting, then editing and rewriting some more, you’ve decided that your story is ready to gain some exposure.

But what kind of exposure is right for your story?

Many writers choose to enter their story into a writing contest. While a writing contest can skyrocket your writing career if you win, it can also empty out your wallet if you lose.

Are you ready to play this literary lottery? Before you fill out that application and sign that check, be sure that you’re ready to enter that writing contest by asking yourself these questions.

Is The Contest Reputable?

Avoid falling in the trap of fake writing contests. These faux writing contests take your entry fee and never announce a winner. Ask yourself:

  • Does the contest have a solid reputation?
  • Has this writing contest been around for years?
  • Who sponsors this writing contest?

Look for a well-established writing contest that has a solid reputation and sponsors that you recognize (or at least can learn about their prestige through a simple online search). If you can’t find these answers on the writing contest’s about page, email the organizers to receive the details you need.

Who Are The Judges?

The judges of a writing contest can make or break the contest’s reputation and even longevity. Review the writing contest’s list of judges and ask yourself:

  • Do you recognize the judges?
  • Have you read or are aware of the work done by the judges?
  • Do you respect these judges?

Newer contests often try to boost their popularity and reputation by selecting a well-known judge. Some organizations, such as literary journals, don’t disclose the names of the judges, often because the editorial team reviews submissions and decide on a winner.

What Is The Value Of This Writing Contest?

A writing contest is only valuable if it moves your writing career forward. Ask yourself:

  • Would winning this writing contest impact your writing career?
  • Would winning build your writing credentials?
  • Is the prize (publication, money, etc.) worth the entry fee and not submitting your story elsewhere until the contest ends?

Winning a writing contest should create more writing opportunities for you, such as other publications and career offers. Research what winners of this contest have published (and where) after receiving the award.

What Are Your Odds of Winning?

The downside to highly-reputable, well-established contests is that countless writers submit entries. Because the goal of entering a writing contest is to win one, try to enter a contest where your chances of winning are greater. You can determine this by reviewing the list of previous winners.

Consider emailing the organizer and ask how many entries they receive for the writing contest. You may not receive a response, but it never hurts to ask.

How do you decide if you should enter that writing contest? Share your decision-making criteria below.


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