Writing Contests: Should You Pay to Play?

Last week I talked about writing contests. These competitions come in two flavors: free and fee. I generally don’t enter any fee-based contests, though last week I made an exception. Here are the pros and cons of both.

Free Contests: Free writing competitions are egalitarian; they are fair and open. This appeals to my sense of right and even more so to my checking account. Of course with no barriers to entry, submissions abound, lessening the chance of winning. Some of the contests I enter have hundreds or even a thousand submissions. The odds of winning are not encouraging.

Fee-Based Contests: Entry fees limit participation, thereby increasing the chance for recognition. Often the fees go to prize money or to pay professionals to judge submissions. Fee-based contests have a greater likelihood of offering feedback as well. As a bonus, you may catch the attention of a judge, who could later benefit your career. Therefore, in theory, fee-based writing contests have less competition and offer better prizes and more benefits.

However, before submitting to a fee-based contest, check them out. Not all are legit, with the only real rewards going to the person who collects the fees. Investigate them, delve into their history, consider the caliber of the judges, and talk with past winners. Also, contact online writing groups and social media hangouts for input. Then you can proceed as appropriate.

As I mentioned last week, I see much value in participating in writing contests and will continue to do so as time allows, for both the free and fee versions.

Do you prefer free or fee-based contests? What’s your experience with them?

2 thoughts on “Writing Contests: Should You Pay to Play?

  1. Came over from TribeWribers.
    I don’t like paying myself. It’s bad enough that companies pay pitiful amounts for lame copywriting jobs, but then these guys make us pay to give them content?

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