Taking the "Con" out of "Contest"

Writing contests are a great way to get recognition, publication, and possibly win monetary prizes. However, many contests are not what they seem. Many are a business, and a business has to make money to survive. Here are a few points to consider:

  • Many contests require an entry fee. These contests usually have cash awards for winning pieces. While this alone does not make the contest unreliable, you may want to think before you invest any money. 
  • Many contests claim that the winner will be published in their book or anthology. These companies usually expect you to purchase their publication, for a hefty fee of course. See if you can find a copy in the local library, so you can avoid the cost and still get to see your work. 
  • Some online contests are looking for names to sell products to, or just sell your name to another company. If the contest promoter is, perhaps, a long distance company, they may be looking to sell you more than a chance to have your work published. 
  • Be careful to whom you send your name on the internet. An excellent ploy for a predator is to claim to be running a contest, and get the full names and addresses (or e-mail addresses) of young people. Be very careful! Always discuss any contest with your parents before entering. 
  • Other contests may simply be cancelled unexpectedly. Although uncommon, it does happen. Remember that before you send in any money to a promoter. If the contest is free, you may only lose the opportunity to win. 
  • Be sure to find out if entering the contest relinquishes your rights to your work. In other words, some companies may take over the rights to your submitted work. This means you no longer own that piece; they do. 
  • Read all contest rules before agreeing to participate in any contest, especially the fine print. Always have your parents look over the rules before you enter any contest.
Good Luck

Some Interesting Contests
American Library of Poetry Ongoing separate contests for students & adults
Poetry.com Poetry Contest Ongoing & monthly contests in poetry
League of American Poets Free
The Art Deadlines List Up to date miscellaneous contest listings 

 Note: Because I have listed these contests, does not mean that I endorse them in any way. Be sure to check out each one carefully before entering.

Created by L. Lopez
Last modified 9/1/07
Return to E-zine