Contests can be a great way to win recognition for your work if you’re a struggling writer, a way to break into the industry, and just a thumbs-up, especially if you place. They can also be costly unless you only enter the no-fee contests which are few and far between. So the question is should an aspiring author enter a lot of contests while they’re waiting on a publishing contract?
The simple answer is there isn’t one, but here are a few suggestions our staff has come up with that might help you make wise choices when it comes to choosing the right contests, how to know you’re getting the most bang for your buck, and how often you should enter.
1. Choose wisely and frugally. An author who has yet to be published can get so caught up in the excitement of potentially winning in a contest that he/she loses focus on the big picture which is getting a publishing contract. So set a limit of the number of contests you will allow yourself to enter every six months (or whatever time frame you choose). A good rule is to never have more contest entries than you have books sent out for consideration to publishing houses.
2. When you’re first beginning in your career, choose the no-fee entry contests. Even if you don’t place, you might get some feedback on your writing that will help you grow as an author.
3. If you’re looking to get into a certain publishing house, pay attention to their contests. Some publishers offer yearly contests that will earn you a spot in their stable of authors, and usually, the entries are free.
4. If you’ve entered three or more entry fee contests and haven’t placed, consider refining your work before you enter another contest. Also, you might consider going the no-entry fee route to see if you can get some feedback.
5. And finally, get as much information as you can about the contest before you pay that entry fee. Make sure it’s an established contest and not some fly-by-night contest eager for money. Before you spend money, do your research.
We wish you the best of luck with your entries, and should you place, make sure that figures prominently in your future query letters!