3 Things on Writing Contests

Listen to the Writer’s Market Podcast series. Each free episode includes a “Three Things” segment focused on helping writers find success with their writing. This one looks at three things on writing contests.

(Click here to check out the podcast episode that includes these three things.)


Free contests are great. However, there aren’t many free contests out there for writers, which means that most writing contests come along with entry fees. These contests are generally still legit, but a writer should think about entry fees before trying to enter every contest available. After all, those ten to twenty dollar (or more!) entry fees start add up pretty quick.


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If you’re going to be obliged to pay money to enter a contest, you might as well look for contests that offer perks in exchange for those entry fees. For instance, a literary journal may include a one-year subscription in return for a $20 entry fee, or a publisher may include a copy of the winning book to all who enter the competition.

This is a good way to get something in return for your financial investment—even if you don’t win the contest.


Why do I have the prize listed as the third thing? When it comes to writing contests, the odds are always in the favor of a writer NOT winning—not because of the quality of the writer, but because there’s generally a lot of competition, especially when the prize is super nice.

Speaking of which, what is the prize? While a contest with a lot of prize money is wonderful, it’s a double-win when a contest also publishes your writing and/or distributes it to a good-sized audience. Some also include trips and the ability to speak at events.

Contests are a great way for writers to gain attention to their writing while making money and earning publication. Writers who do it with a purpose by considering fees, looking for perks, and thinking about the end prize will often find the whole process more rewarding, whether they win or lose.

Until next time, keep writing and marketing what you write.


robert-lee-brewer-featuredRobert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community. He edits the Writer’s Market and Poet’s Market books, writes a poetry column for Writer’s Digest magazine, maintains the Poetic Asides blog, co-hosts a podcast for writers with Brian A. Klems, speaks at conferences, leads online webinars and tutorials, and so much more.

Robert is also the author of Solving the World’s Problems, a poetry collection published by Press 53. A former Poet Laureate of the Blogosphere, he’s been a featured poet across the country at poetry events in Austin, Houston, Cleveland, Atlanta, and more.

Follow him on Twitter @RobertLeeBrewer.


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