Thursday, September 26, 2013

Is Entering A Contest Beneficial for You? by DL Larson

I have two contest entries judged and have three more to go. Two were historicals and well done; the others are sci-fi and I'm looking forward to seeing how each develops. Judging a manuscript is inspiring, tricky and can be awkward for the judge in finding the right inspirational words to motivate the writer rather than discourage her/him if the manuscript is not ready to be seen by the public. Sometimes the manuscript is not as polished as it should be.

Most writers have a sense of when their story is at its best. They have shared their work with others at critique groups, or with family and friends. They have listened to others on plot, pace and characterization. They have implemented new ideas as best as they can. Some have hired an editor to fine-tune their work. After all that, many writers are anxious for a more professional feedback on their work.

So they search for a writing contest.

Many believe a writing contest will validate their work as a writer. I understand this concept, I have entered many contests, won a few awards and indeed felt I had been given a stamp of approval by my peers.

So is entering a contest beneficial for a writer?

Here's a simple check list to consider:

1. Entering a contest costs money, ususally $25-50 per entry. Will the feedback be worth the price?
2. What is the prize for winning? Is it a chance to have your work put before an editor or publisher? Or wide-spread recognition? What mileage can you get for winning?
3. Who is judging? Will there be professionals over-seeing this contest? Or is it simply a money-maker for a writers club?
4. Who won last year? Do your homework and make sure you are entering a bonafide contest.
5. Are you willing to listen and believe what the judge may comment about your work? Not just what is good, but what needs work or improving?

If you can say yes to the above questions, then a contest would be a beneficial move for you as a writer.

Number 4 is very important. Many years ago I entered one of my historicals into a contest. I won $250. I was ecstatic! Yet no money came to me. I waited, and waited. And I waited some more. After nine months, I wrote in this very blog group that I had yet to receive my money. That prompted some action since I had mentioned their name and business. I finally received my prize. I hated taking such tactics, but I had not set up the contest prizes, they had. They took my money easy enough, it was up to them to make good on their contest.

Entering a contest is exciting. You are showing the world your baby! I commend you for taking such a huge step, for it takes courage to enter a contest. If you do not win, do not be discouraged. Keep writing, keep reaching for your dream.

I tell myself that every day ~ keep writing, keep reaching for my dream!

Til next time ~

DL Larson

visit me at

or at


Morgan Mandel said...

I used to enter contests, but now it seems I never have enough time.
Great checklist!

Morgan Mandel said...

I used to enter contests, but now it seems I never have enough time.
Great checklist!

Debra St. John said...

I'm like Morgan, and I used to enter contests, but I haven't in a long while. Some are only open to unpublished authors, so that's one deterrent, but the cost vs. benefit is also a consideration.

I have entered a few of my published books in contests. I find my unpublished mss have done better overall...I've actually won first place a time or two!

Thanks for the checklist. It's a keeper!

Deb Larson said...

Congrats Debra! My last book won a few times too - it felt pretty good. But I too have trouble finding time to submit to a contest. I may try again this fall.
Thanks for sharing!