Free writer's short story contests provide viable markets for new and established writers.
Why Some Contests Charge an Entry Fee
Entering and winning a writer's contest makes a nice additional to any writer's portfolio. It lets editors and publishers know that you are a capable writer who produces professional, well-written work. If you're searching for free writer's short story contests, you may wonder why some contests charge a fee. The answers are varied, but the top two reasons fees are charged are:
- To subsidize prizes
- To pay judges
Finding Free Writer's Short Story Contests
Free contest markets change as contests come and go. Some are annual contests, but even these markets may change as a contest decides to call it quits. The following resources provide mostly free short story contests, but also contests for poetry and other writing opportunities:
- Writer's Digest Annual Writing Competition
- Funds for Writers
- Monthly and Ongoing Writing and Poetry Contests and Competitions
- L. Ron Hubbard's Writers of the Future Contest
- Global Writing Contests
Choose Your Contests Wisely
While winning a writing contest can provide a nice highlight on your writing resume, and a boost in your self-esteem as a writer, if you choose a contest that has a bad reputation or is a known in writing circles as a scam, then you'd be better off not to mention it.When searching for free writer's short story contests through online directories and lists, it pays to check how old the link is to the contest. It's best if information is less than a year old. Things change and it's important that you double check that the information you come across is current. Double check important items like:
- Contact information
Once you've located essential information, research a little further and confirm contest details by visiting contest websites which will have any updates relevant to the contest and submissions.
Steer clear of contests that charge an entry fee and offer a prize of agency representation. In such cases, representation is often offered to every contestant, but at a price. It's sad, but there are people out there who prey on the hopes of writers. Some of the other things that should raise a red flag would include:
- A non-profit organization that runs a contest in partnership with a publisher who promises a publishing contract as a prize. Check to see who runs the non-profit and who runs the publishing house. It could be the same person and lead to offers that cost you money.
- A company that offers editing services promotes a contest with the goal of gaining new business. Such contests are legitimate, prizes are awarded, but the editing company tells the rest of the contestants that their work holds promise but suggests it needs editing.
- Another scam is when an agency uses a fraudulent name to promote a writing contest, and uses the contest to funnel business to an agency which charges a fee.
Benefits of Winning a Writing Contest
If you haven't entered a writing contest in the past, you might want to consider some of the benefits you'll enjoy if you win (and sometimes even when you don't win):
- Exposure: Entering contests is one way to get your writing into the hands of editors and agents who serve as judges.
- Learn to work with deadlines: Writing for contests helps to learn how to write with a deadline.
- Provides Clips: Winning contests provides clips to use in future query and cover letters.
- Can Open Doors: You never know what other doors will open in the publishing world as a result of winning a contest.
If you want to write and sell short stories on a regular basis, winning a contest or two will add to your credentials. And whether you've been published before or not, entering contests can help to move your writing career forward.