5 questions to ask before plunking down money for a writing contest

If you’re a writer, you’ve seen them advertised online and in magazines…contests offering money and/or publication for stories you’ve written.   For aspiring authors, these contests may sound like a way to break into the publishing world and earn a few ‘published’ credits, but are they worth the effort and in many cases, the entry fee that can range from $5 to $100?

Here are a few questions you should ask yourself before plunking down the money.

1.  What is the prize?  Make sure it’s something you really want.  Also look at the prizes for 2nd – 5th place and see if you would be happy with those prizes as well.  Avoid contest with high entry fees and cheap prizes.

2.  How much does it cost to enter?  First, consider your budget.  Contests are like gambling, so don’t invest more than you can afford to lose.  Short story contests fees can run upwards of $40 or $50 for each entry.  Book entries can run closer to $100.  Before investing, research the publisher/magazine.  See if they are reputable and what their track record is.  Also make sure you read the fine print and make sure you’re not relinquishing all your rights to the story or novel.  Some unscrupulous publishers will do this.  As to fees, rule of thumb is try not to spend more than $15 for a short story or more than $35 for a novel.

3.  How prestigious is the award?  Does the magazine or publisher publish everything they receive?  If they do, it may not be the contest for you. Try to stick with well-known and/or well-respected magazines or publishers.   They have a reputation and will only print stories worthy of that reputation.  It will also boost your ego a bit more as well as provide a more reputable publishing credit.

4,  If you don’t win one of the prizes, do you get anything for your entry fee?  Some magazines provide 3, 6 or 12 month subscriptions to their magazine or journal.  If this doesn’t matter to you, then you can check this one off your list, but if you’re like me and would like to have something for your buck, you may want to consider some sort of ‘consolation’ prize.

5. Who are the sponsors, organizers and judges?  If you can’t find information you need in the “About Us” section of the contest’s website, email the organizers and ask for details.  If they’re reputable, they’ll respond. If they’re not, odds are you won’t get an answer or at best, it will a very vague one.  Also, if you can find out who the judges are, that may also determine if you enter.  If the organization is unheard of but Stephen King or J.K. Rowling is one of the judges, you may want to consider entering.

So have you entered any contest?  Have you won anything?

New Blogfest Contest by the fantastic Brenda Drake!

I have got to say, I love these contests Brenda Drake has on her blog.  What a great way to meet other authors and test the waters with snippets of what you’ve written.  This new contest is a great one:  Can we guess your character’s age?

I love the idea of this contest because, while we may know how old our characters are, we may not have conveyed it well to the reader.  I know that was a problem a publisher had with my novel – inconsistencies in ‘voice’.  Sometimes my MC sounded younger, sometimes older than he was.  After this was pointed out to me, I saw it crystal clear.  But not all of us are lucky enough to get a manuscript redlined for us with all the things that need to be improved.  That’s why I love this new contest Brenda has.

If you are a writer, you should give this a whirl to see if your character’s voice matches his/her age.  What a great lesson to learn before you send your MS out to an agent and/or publisher.

Thanks, Brenda, and I can’t wait for the contest to begin!  It’s going to be tons of fun to read other excerpts and guess the ages of the characters.

Row80 check-in for October 30, 2011

I’ve been a bad girl this week and haven’t done much of anything but try to finish up novel one in my Fallhollow saga.  I keep finding things that could be done better and I’m hunting for all the ‘looks’ and other repetitive ‘telly’ words I can find and eliminate them from my vocabulary.  It has not proven to be easy.

I’ve visited a couple of blogs and sent over another short story to midlife collage. I’ll let everyone know if they accept it for another contest.

Set up my NaNoWriMo info and added some buddy partners to keep me focused.  I’m going to be a writing fiend as I HAVE to finish book one before starting on book 2.

Need to get motivated on some kind of exercise routine, even if it’s walking.  The mornings are cool enough now, I just need to get off my lazy rear end and do it.

Will take a break from writing for an hour tonight to watch Once Upon a Time.    Streamed Merlin from the UK and watched it.  I am addicted to that show.  Got a little sidetracked Friday night when I went to see Josh Groban in Tampa with my sister-in-law.  The man is funny, amazingly beautiful with a voice of an angel. I’m so glad I went but the whole time between songs I was plotting my novel, editing in my head.  I really must get a life.

Have no other plans this week except to continue to write, look for jobs and blog hop a bit.  Talk to you guys next month!

Good luck to all you NaNoWriMo freaks.  Two more days to self-inflicted insanity.  You can find me as Slavandria if anyone needs a writing buddy.  ;-0

Hi ho, hi ho, it’s back to writing I go…

I did it! I actually did it!

I won the readers’ choice award at Midlife Collage!  I’ve never won anything in my life for my writing.  I’m all tingles and smiles!  I can’t believe it!  I really can’t believe it.  *Squeal*  *jumping up and down*

Wow.  I would like to take a minute to thank everyone who voted for my non-fiction short story, Baby.  She was truly a special dog and she is still missed by our family.  I would also like to give a very warm ‘thank you’ to Donna Balon, Editor at Midlife Collage, for hosting these weekly contests and opening the door to many writers and authors.

In celebration of my first ever contest win, I would like to share some virtual goodies.  I hope you enjoy them.  I know I would if I really had them!!!!  🙂

If you are interested in reading my winning story about Baby, please head on over to my short stories tab.

Whoo hoo!!!!

and  and

WriteOnCon 2011 Free Web Conference!

WriteOnCon is having their annual live conference for writers of children’s books.  This includes picture books to middle grade to young adult.

Live events include:

• Tuesday, August 16, 11 AM (EDT): Live Picture Book Query Critiques by bestselling author Emma Walton Hamilton.

• Tuesday, August 16, 8 PM (EDT): Live Q&A session with literary agent Jessica Sinsheimer

 Wednesday, August 17, 11 AM (EDT): Live “Twitter pitch” (pitch in 140 characters or less) + the First 100 Words of your MS Critiques/Comments by literary agents Carlie Webber and Christina Hogrebe

• Thursday, August 18, 10 AM (EDT): Live 250-word Pitch Critiques/Comments by literary agent Alyssa Eisner-Henkin

 Thursday, August 18, 5 PM (EDT): Live YA Query Critiques by literary agent Roseanne Wells

Head on over to www.writeoncon.com to read all about  this fabulous event that is free!  Yes, free!  How often is it that authors can get inside the minds of agents and publishers, especially for free?  While you’re over at writeoncon, don’t forget to enter the Reading Room:

Enter The Reading Room / WriteOnCon $1,000 Writing Contest of Awesome for your chance to win $1,000 (duh!) and your very own author profile page at TheReadingRoom.com.The amazing literary agent Catherine Drayton is judging all of the entries and will select five finalists to post on The Reading Room’s site. And you’ll be able to vote on the winner starting August 18th! I have to say it’s fascinating to see which entries Catherine likes the best. You won’t want to miss this! The contest will close August 17th, so hurry up and submit your first 500 words TODAY!

I have participated in many WriteOnCon events and this one is sure to be fantastic!  Sign up and hopefully I’ll see you there!!!