What Not to Do Wednesday: The One about Contests and Money

I told you I had a lot to learn about WNTD with contests.

But in my defense, I think this WNTD is a common predicament for beginning writers. Namely, whether to spend money on a contest or not. Of course you want the Fame, but you don’t want to spend a Fortune getting it. So what to do? Or not do, as the case may be.

I hate to be Miss Wishy-washy here, but it really all depends. It depends on whether you’re serious about adding contest credentials. It depends on what kind of contests you’re considering. And it depends on your budget.

1. Don’t enter a contest where the fee is high, there’s only one winner, and the prize is not commensurate (to use a high-falutin’ word) with the fee. It’s a question of odds, isn’t it? If you’re paying 20 bucks to win a $100 prize and 565 other writers are also sending in a submission, then you’re odds of winning are…well, I’m going to take a “guesstimate” here and say not good. If I had thought that one through the first time, little grasshopper, I’d be 20 bucks richer today.

2. But don’t scratch a contest off the list because of a high fee. A contest credential can add a little something-something to your clip file. Especially if it’s a prestigious competition. Do your research, consider what you have to gain (winning or making the shortlist, which can also mean something in really big contests), and then believe in your writing and go for it. The more you learn, the better you will get at choosing the right competition for you.

3. Finally, don’t put yourself in debt with contests. Set a budget and stick to it. Pick a paying contest when you can afford it and enter the non-paying contests whenever you can. I generally try to make some money before I go spending money. On the other hand, little grasshopper, it doesn’t hurt to have the beneficent Mr. Hall around.

I probably still have a lot to learn about WNTD with contests. Phrases like “There’s a sucker born every minute” and “A fool and her money are soon parted” come to mind here. So I’ll keep you posted. In the meantime, I’ll just close with this quote, by Cathy C. Hall: “Winning isn’t everything, but it’s a heckuva lot better than losing.”

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