I received an email yesterday regarding a writing contest. I’m not entirely sure how my email address became associated with the mailing list since the email came from the Serendipity Literary Agency. My guess is that Serendipity Literary Agency was one of the seventy-one agencies I queried on my first round of Hell High queries. Random email lists aside, the email was very exciting. Here’s a copy:
Exciting right??? I’m excited! I’m totally entering! Here’s a link to the contest website if you wanna take a gander for yourself. 2013 YA Discovery Contest Website
This got me thinking about using contests as a launching pad for publication. I was reading an article lately (I re-tweeted if you follow me on Twitter) about how a writer used publishing short stories to eventually land an agent. Even though this particular author didn’t enter his short story into a contest, his published short story did win an award, lending him some street cred. Read the Article Here
Thinking about entering my manuscript or a portion of it in a competition sounded like a good idea right? Well – as it turns out, not all competitions are created equal. My first step to entering some competitions was to Google “writing contests.” Simple enough. The first result was Writer’s Digest competition page. As I was hurriedly filling in my email address to be on their mailing list
To receive occasional updates on deadlines, when winners are announced and other writing competition or writing contest information, sign-up for the Writer’s Digest Newsletter using the field below:
I noticed a blurb at the top of the page that said
Entry fees? Say what??? Hold the press. <quickly deletes email address from mailing list entry bar>
Is this common? How much are we talking here? The 82nd Annual Writer’s Digest Writing Competition charged:
Early Bird Entry fees are $27 for the first manuscript; $20 for each additional entry submitted during the same transaction. Poems are $15 for the first entry; $10 for each additional poem submitted submitted during the same transaction. Entries submitted after that May 6, 2013 Early Bird deadline are $32 for the first manuscript; $25 for each additional entry submitted during the same transaction. Poems are $20 for the first entry; $15 for each additional poem submitted submitted during the same transaction.
That sounds pretty reasonable to me if you’ve got the extra cash sitting around. But what is it about having to spend money to land an agent? I realize it’s not mandatory, but all the things that give you a leg up, like attending writing conventions and seminars and entering competitions (at least coordinated by Writer’s Digest) cost money? It seems a reasonable trade-off too in some instances. I can see myself forking over $27 to enter a writing competition. But in others, I guess you really have to determine if the cost/benefit ratio is worthwhile. For example, I would love to attend a writers conference. But factoring in the amount for airfare or a train ticket, hotel, and entry fees – not to mention the debt I would rack up with my husband since he would have to watch the kid while I was gone – I’m not convinced it’s worthwhile.
I’d love to hear what anyone has to say about writing competitions and conventions! Did either of things help you?