Friday, August 28, 2009

Question for other writers. Please discuss.

When you're submitting your work, do you submit to contests with fees? If so, how much do you spend per year? How do you decide which are worth paying to join?

I ask because I tend to avoid contests with fees, because it seems that $10 or $15 contests could add up very quickly. But one of the writers with whom I am on retreat said that the two publications she has gotten were both through contests. And she admitted that she spends a lot on entering them. So I'm wondering what others do. Please comment. Best Blogger Tips


January said...

I don't spend money on contests. Even when I did, I don't think I entered more than four in a year. Same with reading fees--I try to avoid submitting to any publication that has any kind of fee associated with it.

This is really a sore spot with me. I understand that times are tough in the publishing industry, but we are the content providers. Why in the world should we pay to get our work published? Unfortunately, most writers believe in this model, so nothing changes unless we stop paying into this flawed system.

And don't get me started on how little writers are paid to publish their work outside of contests.

Writer Bug said...

Thanks for your thoughts, January. Very good points.

Kristin said...

I don't enter many contests, and I only enter those that give me something for the money. I prefer to get a copy of the winning book, but I'll settle for a copy of the journal that sponsors the contest or a past winner's book.

And even when I receive something, I can feel a bit shortchanged. I remember once thinking, hmm, would I have spent $25 for this book had I seen it in a store, thumbed through it, read a few poems? The answer is almost always no.

And when I count up all the money I have spent on contests through the years, I realize that I probably could have self-published. But my current life's time constraints don't point towards me being a successful book publisher, so I'm not looking in that direction. Not yet.

Reb Livingston has posted on this topic some time ago--she spent much of last August writing about this topic:

Kells said...

Hi there,

Found your blog through January and was intrigued by this question.

I do enter poetry contests, but only for the journals that I want to support. North American Review is always a #1 choice for me as they have supported me as a poet. I also enter the Smartish Pace contest, though I've never been published by them, I like their journal.

That is how I choose as I know poetry contests are basically fundraisers for small independent presses. However, that being said, I will never pay more than $10 to enter without subscription and $15 with subscription.

As an editor now of a indie literary journal (Crab Creek Review) we have a year poetry and fiction contest. We charge $10 for 5 poems ($2 a poem) and we also choose poems for the issue from poems submitted for the contest (so if you enter the contest, you'll still be considered for publication). For us, this little contest really helps keep us in business. And we do try to reward our winners and finalists by honoring them on our website, blog, and in our journal.

So while it can add up, I'd suggest submitting to a couple contests a year based on the journals you want to support.

My 2 1/2 cents for what it's worth.


Writer Bug said...

Thanks all for your thoughtful comments. They make a lot of sense. Kells, good luck with your journal! What an exciting endeavor.

Catherine said...

I have just started entering the occasional contest with fees - here in New Zealand it is usually around $5 for a poem, which is about $3 US.
One I entered because I knew that besides the winning entries, a fair number of entries would be selected for an anthology. Another because it has a decent length "highly commended" list, all of which will be published, and because I know that the fees help support the journal. I work voluntarily for a poetry journal myself, doing the accounts, and our entry fees are a big once a year boost to our income, as subscription money only just covers printing and postage costs. However, I much prefer to send submissions that I don't have to pay for, which is what I do most of the time.

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