Wouldn’t it be great if your book won the Joe Bloggs Prize for fiction this year? Or even if you won the prize for something else? You could put it on the cover of your book – winner of the 2015 Bloggs Prize. Or how about a short quote? – “A dazzling new star in the literary firmament.” Sounds just the very dab.
So it’s naturally very attractive to enter literary competitions. The prizemoney is secondary, actually, it’s the fame you’re looking for.
Ah, but there are problems. First of all, most of the big competitions will only accept entries from publishers, which means that the author is disqualified straight away. Then there’s usually an entry fee. Now I’m going to make a confession: I’ve entered a few of these competitions and have lost every single time. Every time. A waste of money. I don’t object to a small entry fee – after all the judges have to be paid something for reading all the junk I send in – but I’m not certain that my stuff is actually read at all. If hundreds, perhaps thousands, of writers each send an entry accompanied by – say – £20, that’s quite a lot of money, isn’t it? Hmm. I can see shark fins in the sea nearby.
So try to find freebies, or at least competitions with very small entry fees. They do exist, and they’re probably more honest as well.
And now I’m going to award my prize for the 2015 Competition Scam Of The Year. Narrative magazine offers $50 for any six-word story they choose to publish. The submission fee? $15. You read that correctly, $15, in other words $2.50 for each word they actually get around to reading.
Time to head for the safety of the beach.
(P.S. My thanks to whoever's responsible for the image; my apologies to you the reader for its grammar. Did you spot it?)