But is it really worth it?
In about a year, I submitted and submitted and submitted, and forked out around $400 or more to have my work considered by the 'elite' market. What did I end up with to show for it? An empty wallet and one poetry award from Writer's Digest. I have to admit, that little award still makes me smile ... but then I think about what I achieved for free and a lot of hard work ...
That's a HECK of a lot more than that poetry award. And I even got PAID for a couple of these things.
Now I know it's hard to resist entering those competitions. Some of them even have really amazing cash prizes and trips to conferences to win, etc, but you know what? The money you'd end up spending for all the competitions could probably pay for that trip to the conference anyway, and leave you with a hell of a lot less submission angst.
I really really don't think it's worth paying anymore. I mean, sure, I've gained the small amount of recognition that I have through a lot of time, persistence and hard work, but I got a result. And I think these results are just going to continue to grow as long as I keep up with the game. I can still get writing credits without paying for them.
Not every lit mag is a print publication. But so what? They're just as good and worthy. And they're just as beneficial to my career as is a piece in Glimmer Train. Agents and publishers are looking for those nifty italics at the bottom of your query letters, not prestige. As long as there is another editor out there, big or small, that felt your work was worthy of being published, that is an excellent excellent boost for you.
Any writing credit, great or small, is beneficial to your career. Never forget that.
If time, persistence, and hard work equal results, and money equals gambling, then I choose results over chance any day. And you know what? I see those ads for competitions now, with the big cash prizes, and even though I sometimes have the confidence in myself to submit, I don't get excited about them anymore. I just feel like I'm wasting my hard-earned cash.
But I do get excited about what I've accomplished. Because I've accomplished it with my own two hands.
How about you? Do you think it pays to pay?
I've often read that winning a competition is a good thing to note on your query...but bottom line? If your story isn't what an agent wants...being a competition winner then doesn't mean squat. I think it's good though to put your through the paces of scrutiny. And it sure feels good to win something, especially when rejections on manuscripts keep piling on. (I'm loving, loving, loving String Bridge)ReplyDelete
I was advised not to pay for competitions. I entered two free poetry ones and won. One was a small cash prize and the other a 'how to write' book.ReplyDelete
Having seen authors achieve their goals by community gathering on the Internet, I do wonder if it is worth paying the price. The money could be spent on advertising what you have already achieved.
A few years ago, I think the agents looked for 'winners', now they look for something to sell regardless.
I haven't submitted anything like that yet, but your "investing vs. gambling" illustration sure rings true! Worth keeping in mind when it comes time to submit.ReplyDelete
I'm not as well-versed in the subject as you are, Jess, but my personal philosophy is to not pay to submit. I suppose there are exceptions, though.ReplyDelete
I agree with you. I've only paid to submit to a small but notable essay contest. The entry fee was $5. Overall, I believe my money is better spent elsewhere.ReplyDelete
I didn't even know such things existed. I would never pay to have my work read. It's too valuable.ReplyDelete
I completely agree about the pay-to-enter contests. In fact, contests in general were something I played around with early on, but now are a distraction from the real work I need to be doing ... writing. However, when the chance came to submit Open Minds to the SCBWI Golden Kite award, I only hesitated briefly. The cost was just 4 print copies and shipping. I don't have any expectations of winning, but simply being seen by the people evaluating the books was worth it. :)ReplyDelete
i usually allow myself to enter like one pay market a year if i really want to, but otherwise, no, i just avoid them. I generally don't have a lot of extra cash, so i could use that money to bid on a crit or something in an auction, or go to a conference.ReplyDelete
I don't know. For years, I didn't have the money to pay to enter contests. Now I do, but I'm focused more on my manuscripts and publishing and promoting. So I don't really have time anymore. I can see how it would be beneficial, or at least, potentially beneficial, but for me right now, it's not realistic. That's not to say I won't ever give it a shot, though.ReplyDelete
I think I always assume I won't win, so it's money lost. I think you've achieved an extraordinary amount of things without the price tag anyway--you're amazing!ReplyDelete
I've always had a "no pay" policy when it comes to writing contests. I'm glad to hear you agree with that!ReplyDelete
This is such an interesting question. I used to pay reading fees for contests and magazines. But this past year I made a vow that I would not pay to have my work read anymore. If I'm going to invest money in my writing, it will be to improve my craft with workshops and conferences. I realize my priorities could shift over time. But that's where I'm at now :)ReplyDelete
Mostly I agree about not paying, but I recently did because the fee was being donated to an interesting cause. I prefer not to make a hard and fast rule about it.ReplyDelete
Nope,I don't think it pays to pay.ReplyDelete
These contest are huge in the RWA.ReplyDelete
I entered one earlier this year. I shouldn't have. One of my beta readers read the first chapter (she's been a judge for these before) and made a few suggestions. No one else had read the ms yet. Not even my CP. All I was looking for was feedback on my first chapter, and since the judges were published YA authors, I couldn't go wrong.
Or could I?
Because of the close deadline, I sent the entry in when I shouldn't have. When my CP critted it, there were all kinds of issues with it. By the time the feedback from the contest arrived, I had already done substantial rewrites to it. I never bothered I read the judges comments. Okay, truth is I forgot about them. And now that the book has gone through EXTENSIVE rewrites (include a new first chapter--the other one is now chapter two--and a change in story problem and goal), the previous comments will no longer apply.
I've since decided not to enter these contests. You really don't know who the judges are. One of my friends (the one I mentioned above) judged YA entries but she doesn't write YA and has only read a few YA books. She writes erotica and women's fictions.
I've never paid to enter a contest. Or not paid! I think there are a lot of opportunities where the writer can get paid instead, especially after Milo's success with all of his short stories.ReplyDelete
I've always subscribed to the no pay philosophy.ReplyDelete
Although I have paid to submit a few times, I've been most successful with the free ones. I agree, don't pay. It's not worth it. Plus there are a few scams out there that ask you to pay for the publication they'll feature your work in. Don't ever touch those.ReplyDelete
Huh...good topic. Haven't done it before and ditto what Lydia said!ReplyDelete
I've never paid to enter. It already feels like I'm paying a huge amount in time to create the work!ReplyDelete
Hmm... I've never really paid to play, so I don't know. I suppose if it leads to a resume as awesome as yours looks, though, it can be worth it! Rock on, rocky~ :DReplyDelete
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I'm wary of paying to submit short stories. Writer's Digest charges. The fee isn't enormous, but every time I consider doing it, I back out. I've had success with my short story submissions, which have all been free. While my manuscript acceptances are at 0%, my short stories have been 100%, so far.ReplyDelete
It's been interesting to read the comments here. Most people seem to feel the same way you do.
Paying to enter a competition reminds me of asking for a kiss. Even you get it, it really doesn't mean much. But that's just me. RolandReplyDelete
Yeah, I'm not a fan of the idea of having to pay just to enter a competition.ReplyDelete
I forked over a lot of money in my early writing days entering competitions, and it did me no good. Of course, my writing was far less polished than it is today. Still, I don't think it pays to pay.ReplyDelete
I haven't paid to enter a competition. I write because mainly I have much spare time and I can put my thoughts and travels onto paper or blogsphere.ReplyDelete
I totally agree. I did two contests before realizing that the odds of me winning were astronomical, and I was better off putting my energy into other avenues. Putting money toward a conference is always money well spent, so why not aim for the sure thing?ReplyDelete
Happy Holidays, Jessica! Have a great Christmas!
Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse
My local writer's group puts out a magazine with pages and pages of national and international competitions, most where you have to pay a fee but some are free. In their disclaimer they say that the fee should be comparable to the prize money, so if it's a grand prize you expect to pay grand money to enter. After paying a few times I'm leery of having to pay for the privilege of entering a competition. There's plenty, well, enough free ones.ReplyDelete
Happy Christmas Jessica! Hope String Bridge is hitting all the right notes.