Submitting to Writing Contests
One way to get your writing noticed is to have short stories or poems published in a writing contest. You may win or be ‘placed’ for your submission and can then utilize your achievement to raise awareness of your writing. The contest judges might be agents or publishers and so there is a chance they will request samples of your writing. Also, you gain readers, you had not previously accessed, who will get to know you and your writing. In any case, it has a beneficial effect on your author/writer presence. As with any awards you will get noticed and it is always nice to have ‘winner of such and such’ on your website.
Of course, there are a multitude of writing competitions available, whether locally, regionally or internationally. It is best to research them carefully, taking note of any past contests they ran, online reviews of the entity and legitimacy of the contest promoter. If there is a fee to enter this research is vital as some ‘contests’ are, unfortunately, scams. Typical contests are run by literary journals, writing magazines, publishers and more. There are annual contests under famous literary authors or institutions, while others are genre or topic specific.
When deciding on which contest to enter, gear them to your writing expertise, your favoured genre or a topic you understand well. The more individuality and knowledge you can include the better.
When submitting to a competition there are a few common ground rules to adhere to.
Tip #1: Be clear on your goals before entering any contest. Why do you want to enter in the first place?
Tip #2: Follow the rules and submission guidelines – each contest is different. This includes keeping to the submission deadline. (A day earlier is best)
Tip #3: Proofread – this is absolutely vital. Make sure you read and re-read your entry before submitting. (A good trick is to read it out loud)
Tip #4: Enter writing that is appropriate for the contests’ stated theme or topic. Familiarize yourself with the press or journal hosting the contest. Take note of their style and content. If there are past winner’s submissions available read them to get an idea of the tone the judges may be looking for from submitters.
Tip #5: Enter numerous contests to improve your chances of winning. (This takes some commitment and make sure you keep a track of where and when you submitted.)
Tip #6: Don’t ignore lesser well-known contests, it could mean winning it gains you exposure and connections for your writing career. And of course, there is always the prize money! Not only does submitting to a range of contests maximize the likelihood that you may win, but it is a great way to improve and expand your writing skills.
Tip #7: Exploit your genre, your niche, when researching the range of contests, there are always specialized creative writing contests out there that suit your style. Make the most of the opportunity to showcase your writing.
Tip #8: Create a story with an emotional impact, and topic. Make it memorable, new, fresh and focus on clarity. Investigate the trope expectations for a genre contest and utilize it in your story. Choose a brilliant first line and action. Give your character a goal, a choice and ensure there is a change of personality, status or situation. And above all nail the ending.
I hope these tips give you some direction to enter a contest or two. Good luck!
Mandy Eve-Barnett is a multi-genre author writing children’s, YA, and adult books. Her passion for writing emerged later in life and she is making up for lost time. With nine books published since 2011, she indulges her Muse in creative fiction as well as freelance writing. Mandy regularly blogs at www.mandyevebarnett.com and is a writing community advocate. As Secretary of her local writer’s group and the Alberta Authors Cooperative, as well as past-president of the Arts & Culture Council, she lives her creative life to the fullest. She hosts the monthly writer sharing meetings and creates writing prompts for the Writers Foundation of Strathcona County. Mandy also presents various writing topics at conferences and seminars. Originally from England, Mandy now resides in Alberta, Canada. You can find Mandy across social media and her books through all the online purchasing sites and her publisher, Dream Write Publishing.