1. Jowettc
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    Jowettc Contributing Member

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    Paying to enter Short Story Competitions

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by Jowettc, Mar 1, 2012.

    Clearly, one of the talked about methods of building a potential reputation is through entering, winning, getting an HM or being a runner-up in an internationally recognised short story competition.

    I note though, that while a good proportion are free - a larger proportion are not.

    By way of advice, does anyone have first hand knowledge of how reliable these competitions are?
    Are they a money making scheme or are they fair ways to pay for the prize-pool?
    Larger comps like the L R H Writers of the Future obviously have wide acclaim, but what about others?
    Does anyone know of a reliable way to track down good, well regarded competitions without getting fleeced?
     
  2. Henning
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    Henning Member

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    From my own experience, don't do it. I'm sure there's legit ones out there but if you've never heard of them or just aren't sure, do not pay anything.

    One thing that I've seen, for example, was when I was about 12 I sent a short story to a contest (a free one) and a week later I got a letter. My story was one of the winners! How amazing! Now all I had to do was pay them 50 bucks for the story to be published in a short story book that they would later send me for only TEN DOLLARS! WOW COOL! Even at twelve this just made me laugh and throw out the letter.
    Maybe I'm completely wrong, but I know I'm never paying to enter anything. They should be paying you. It's your work.
     
  3. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Some magazines do charge a fee for contests, and if you're going to submit to them, just make sure they're a reputable magazine (and worth the price of the entry fee). Usually a quick google search can tell you if the magazine is legit/reputable or a scam.

    I don't like the idea of paying, so I'm more likely to submit a piece for publication rather than enter it into a competition. However, a lot of times the cash prize for a contest is higher than what the magazine pays for publication rights.
     
  4. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    As thirdwind says, some can be legit, but it's important to make sure you do your research beforehand.

    Personally, I don't think I'd pay to enter a writing contest. It's not like there are a shortage of free markets to submit to.
     
  5. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    why waste your money, time and stories on contests, when there are venues out there that will pay you to publish them and will put them out there for all their readers to see, vs you paying good money for just a small panel of judges to scan 'em?

    if you are still hellbent on trying to win a contest, it's easy enough to find the 'good' ones among the countless bad... it's called 'googling'... just make sure to check the ones you're interested in at preditors & editors before you send them anything...
     
  6. Gonissa
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    Gonissa Contributing Member

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    Writer's Digest is legit, if you're wondering.

    Hey, Maia, what venues are you talking about? Just publishers?
     
  7. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    If you're looking for fiction-publishing venues*, then your first (and probably only) port of call should be www.duotrope.com




    *Though, actually, have they started doing creative non-fiction markets now too?
     
  8. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Contests often do have entry fees, but there are, of course, a huge quantity of contest scams as well. You have to judge for yourself whether the contest is worth an entry fee. By all means, take the reputation of the contest sponsor into account, and do some research if you aren't sure. Also, make sure the contest is sponsored by whom it claims to be. It the submission URL domain differs from that of the supposed sponsor, don't trust it!

    Remember, when you pay a contest fee, you are also potentially exposing financial and identy information to a stranger.
     
  9. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    Check out Poets and Writers site - they check all the contests listed. The one thing to consider is the entry fee vis a vis the award - if you're paying $50 for a $500 award, it's not worth it. Many of the contests listed at P&W have an entry fee of around $15 - 25 with awards of $1000 and up (some way up) and include publication. It's an alternative route to getting recognition and publication, but as mentioned, even when legit, you should weigh the 'prestige' associated with winning. Sometimes it can be a real feather in your cap, sometimes it's just 'nice'.
     
  10. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    A long time ago I was warned against anyone who asks for my money in order to represent my work, be it a competition, an agent, editor or a publisher.
     
  11. Jowettc
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    Jowettc Contributing Member

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    @ Henning - I appreciate your first hand account thanks. Caution advised - got ya on that one.

    @ Thirdwind / Banzai / Cog - Sure - Of course checks are essential and of course I would (and do) do them. Caution still advised obviously - Cog - yes the old URL trick - seen it done before - aware of it. Paypal accounts are still pretty good as an online payment device and I am paranoid to distraction about paying via electronic means anyways.

    @ mamma - I appreciate what your saying but, I think there's a reasonable twofold reason to try and win some comps - 1) Confidence. I would like to know I can actually write something that's worth a damn. 2)Why would an editor read my submission over anyone elses? Hi, I'm joe Bloggs nobody and here's my idea of a short story! Not sure it would get past the trash bin. Speaking from personal career experience - it doesnt matter how good you are at a job - getting your foot in the door, or even getting someone to talk to you can be a near impossibility - I imagine its the same for writing. Just getting someone to read it might be most of the battle - just guessing. But Preditors and Editors Good tip thanks.

    @Shadow - Poets and Writers - got ya.

    @ Jazz - Sure. Appreciate the idea - but there are some legit reasons why a competition might ask for an entry fee. I think each deserves a look at its merits. Paying an agent or a publisher just for the righ to publish - sure, I agree completely sounds like a bad idea.

    @ Banzai Take 2 - Duotrope - awesome site - thanks.
     
  12. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    'venues' for short stories, as in 'magazines' and 'literary journals'...
     
  13. marcuslam
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    marcuslam Senior Member

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    Writer's Digest hosts short story competitions every year. They charge a fee, but judging from their reputation, I'm guessing they are legit. Henning's experience serves as a good lesson for us all. If they're charging a ridiculous price, something's definitely up.

    I'm sure everyone here is capable of winning writing contests. Still, there are usually many participants, so it's difficult. With that in mind, it might not hurt to just try and get published the normal way instead.
     

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