Writing Contests and Competitions: Another Path to Publication – Write Now Columbus – December 2019
When trying to get a book published, most writers think about agents and publishers. This is an excellent strategy. But there’s another, sometimes overlooked path: contests and competitions.
Many writing contests offer publication as the prize. But even winning or placing in a contest that doesn’t offer publication can boost the book’s status in the eyes of agents and publishers. And, winning or placing in a contest with a different piece of writing lends the writer credibility. Agents and publishers pay attention.
Many years ago one of my poems won the “Poet’s Choice” award in the Dublin Arts Council poetry contest. When I was pitching manuscripts of first Memorial, and more recently, Depression Hates a Moving Target, to agents and publishers, I included this tidbit in my bio.
More recently, an early manuscript of Depression Hates a Moving Target (then titled Twenty-Six Point Freaking Two), was first a semi-finalist and then a finalist in the Faulkner Society Wisdom competition. Those credentials helped Mango decide to publish the book.
A few days ago, the now published Depression Hates a Moving Target was nominated as a finalist in the Dog Writers Association of America writing competition “Human Animal Bond” category. You can bet I will include that credit in the book proposal for the next book I pitch to Mango.
Were do you find these contests and competitions? A google search will bring up many, but here’s a few places to start:
- Submittable – This service includes all manner of submission options including contests. It is free for writers, but expect to pay a fee to enter each contest.
- Duotrope – This service charges a nominal fee to subscribe.
- Poets & Writers Magazine – P&W offers a nice list of submission options in the back of each issue and online.
- NewPages.com – This online index provides a wide variety of information about publishing including many calls for submissions including contests and competitions.
- Writers Chronicle – Published by the Association of Writers and Writers Program, this magazine includes a list of grants, awards, and publications.
- Local writing groups – Here in central Ohio, groups including Ohio Writers Association, Buckeye Crime Writers, Ohio Poetry Association, and Central Ohio Fiction Writers hold contests.
- Other writing groups – Some “local” organizations host writing contests open to writers from any locale. For example, the San Francisco chapter of the Women’s National Book Association holds competitions from time to time.
- Competitions for self-published books.
Please research each contest before entering. Unfortunately, scams abound. Check their website for prior winners and don’t hesitate to ask other writers if they have ever heard of the contest.
Send only your best work, but do send! And if you win or place, be sure to let me know. I love spreading the word when writers succeed.