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Kick Start Your Writing Career By Winning Fame, Glory and Prize Goodies

Aug 17, 2007
Have you ever heard of the Pulitzer Prize? It's the one of the grand daddy of writing contests. Started by 19th century journalist Joseph Pulitzer, the first prize was awarded in 1917 and cash prizes continue to be awarded annually to this very day.

While winning a Pulitzer, is certainly a noble achievement, there are literally thousands of smaller (and easier to win) writing contests that will appeal to authors and poets of any genre.

Popular writing contest categories include fiction and non-fiction books on almost any subject, fictional short stories, novels and novellas of any genre; non-fiction articles, essays, and journalistic pieces; poetry which includes book-length manuscripts as well as chapbooks; scripts and screenplays, and an almost unlimited number of specific categories such as writing contests for grade school writers, college-level essays, and topic-specific such as pet articles and patriotic themes.

The list truly goes on and on. Many writing contests have very impressive prizes. The Nichols fellowship, for example, is no chump change contest. Especially designed for screenplay writers, this contest is so prestigious that even getting into the final cut will earn you offers from Hollywood agents. Up to 5 winners will each take away $30,000 fellowships and almost all top fellowship writers have had their screenplay produced. Now that's a contest.

Why it's nice to dream, these "top dog" contests might be a bit much to bite off for your first writing contest but they certainly are a target to aim for as your experience and skills grow.

For the rest of us there are thousands of novels, short story, scriptwriting, screenplay, plays, fiction, non-fiction and poetry writing contests to keep winners happy for years to come.

How writing contests work:

Many writing contests charge entry fees. The absence or presence of an entry fee has no bearing on the legitimacy of a contest. Most of the time the entry fees are used to cover contest expenses including the actual prize money.

Be aware that there are some rip-off contests and scam operators are active in the writing contest market just like they are in any other area where money can be made.

When you are considering entering a fee-based contest make sure that the minimum cash prize is at least more than the entry fee. It doesn't make a lot of sense to pay $25 to win $10 unless the contest is well advertised and you care more about the glory than you do the moolah. Speaking of glory, some contests do not award any cash at all but you do get the bragging rights to having your entry published in a real book or magazine. Wining any legitimate writing contest, whether the prize is cash, merchandise, or just a pat on the back, gives you the right to use the phrase "award winning writer" in your portfolio and resume. That can be worth the price of entry all by itself.

The good news about writing contests is that your chances of winning are directly dependant upon your skills. It doesn't matter who you are, or how many pieces or books you have to your name. If your entry is selected as a winner, then you're a winner. You could go up against Spielberg and come out a winner if your story was better.

Why contests are held:

There are many reasons why writer's contests are held. One of them is to simply make money. If the organizers collect more in entry fees than they spend in prizes and overhead, then they've made a profit. There's nothing wrong in running a contest as a profit center just as long as the contest is fair and impartial.

Another reason the writer's contests are held is that it's a relatively inexpensive way for publishers to get fresh, new content into their magazines. Readers enjoy reading new writers and writers love winning contests and seeing their work published. Every wins in one way or another.

Some companies run contests to draw attention to their product or service. They create a lot of advertising hoopla which ends up selling more magazines, or razor blades, or whatever product or service they're pushing.

No matter what the reason for the contests, everybody loves a winner and everyone loves winning. You could make thousands of dollars a year if you enter and win a number of contests, or you could end up being happy just having a few published stories, poems, or articles to add to your portfolio.

Writing contests are fun, challenging, and could end up putting some veggies on the table if you have enough talent to be a winner!

The only thing that's stopping you from finding out if you're destined for the next big prize is you.

Good luck and I hope to see you in my favorite magazine soon.
About the Author
Melanie Rockett is THE Contest Guru. Her website and blog serves up lists of current contests for poets and writers. Check out the hundreds of writing contests you can enter today.
Website: http://contestguru.com Blog: http://contestguru.com/contestnews (c) Melanie Rockett 2007
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