Saturday, July 17, 2010

Q & A Contests

Q: How do I know when sending in a story for a contest, and just sending in a cover letter with my name, will it stay in my name even if my name isn't on the mss? How can I judge if a contest is even legit?

A: For contests, there are a couple of issues...First, are they legit? Second, will winning or placing in the contest be something you can put on your writing resume? You may not really care about the second--you may just want to challenge yourself or try for the prize money, and that's fine. But if you do want to enter a contest in order to gain writing credits, you should be aware that not that many contests have much prestige. I often get questions from writers who want to enter contests as a way of impressing editors, but in my opinion, you're better off if you just submit your work for publication. Now, as to legitimacy, You want to be sure that the organization conducting the contest is an established organization, such as a publisher that has been in business for a year or more, or a magazine that has put out several issues -- in other words, you want to be sure it's not just a fly by night outfit. You also want to make sure that the entry fee is not exorbitant, anything over $25 should prompt caution. Contrary to popular belief, many legitimate contests charge some kind of entry fee, but it should not be a high entry fee. Another thing to check is who's judging the contest. If they are industry people or people you've heard of, the contest will probably be more prestigious. And last but not least READ THE FINE PRINT!! Many contests have unpleasant surprises in their guidelines, such as all entries becoming the property of whoever's conducting the contest. Be sure you read the guidelines.

taken from “Choosing Reputable Publishing Professionals”
with Victoria Strauss
Thursday, March 9, 2006

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