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Have you ever entered a writing contest? Have you ever placed in the top 3? Or won the whole contest outright? How To Make the Most of Writing Contests ?Maybe you’ve thought about entering a contests but been too afraid to try. Or maybe you didn’t know where to start looking.

Well, writing contests can be a valuable tool for aspiring writers. They can be a great way to get feedback on your writing from external readers/judges/editors/agents. And they can be an equally great way to start building a writing resume, to begin promoting one’s name as a published author.

How To Make the Most of Writing Contests

Here are a few things to keep in mind, both before you enter a contest and after you receive the judges’ final decision.

1. Choose contests based upon their end results. Consider what you’re hoping to get out of entering a contest. Is it prize money? Is it publication? Is it the chance to get your work in front of an editor or agent? Or is it simply the chance to have an external reader review your work? Think about your end goal, and choose your contests appropriately. The Writing Show First Chapter Contest awards 750 words of feedback from industry professionals. The First Glance Films Screenplay Competition sends its top 3 winners to be read by Hollywood producers. The 2007 Marjorie Wilson Best Poem contest awards $2500.00 to its top winner. You get the idea.

2. Choose contests for which your work qualifies. This seems like a no-brainer, but you might be surprised. Don’t enter a 10K word short story into a flash fiction contest. Don’t enter a novel into a screenplay writing contest. Don’t enter your paranormal erotica opening into a contest run by Avalon (a “sweet” publisher) just because you see the word “romance” in their guidelines.

3. Choose contests for which the odds are in your favor. This one’s a little harder to figure out, but if you do a little digging, you can uncover contests for which either the number of entries is limited, improving your odds, or the number of prizes given includes more than the top 3. The Short Story Award for New Writers, for example, is a contest open only to writers whose fiction has never appeared in a publication with a circulation over 5,000. The WOW-Women on Writing Quarterly Contest names 3 top winners, 7 runners-up, and 25 honorable mentions…and every one of those writers receives a prize and a mention on the WOW website.