Contest, contest, contest. I’ve been hearing that word used a lot lately, but I’m unsure as to the value of writing contests. Many people seem to receive mixed responses to their entries. How would this be helpful? Not to mention the cost involved. There’s the entrance fee, but you also have to pay for paper, ink (or copies), and postage, which can add up in a hurry.
How do you choose between the different kinds of writing contests? Some evaluate your whole manuscript, while others look at the first fifty pages, the first chapter, or even the first sentence. Some contests are well-known and worth a lot of weight in the publishing industry like the Rita (for published authors) and the Golden Heart (for unpublished authors). While others are simple contests put out by bloggers. Do those count for anything? A win is a win, isn’t it?
At what point in a writer’s career should she enter a contest? I’m only about 1/3 of the way through the rough draft of the revised version of my latest novel. Obviously, I couldn’t enter any contest that requires the complete manuscript, but what about others that don’t? What if I was lucky enough to win? Would they then request the full? That’s what I’m assuming, which is why I haven’t gone the contest route. Wouldn’t that be my luck to have an editor or agent request more and I’d have to say: “You don’t mind waiting a year, do you?” Ugh. Although, if that did happen, maybe I could convince my husband I need more writing time… Hummm…
My guess is some contests are worth while, but how does a writer go about finding such contests? What have your experiences been? How many contests do you enter a year? Is there a contest you’d recommend? Are there some to stay away from and why? Is the feedback you get really any better than the comments from your critique group?