Fiction Writing Contests: What a Bugger!

Welcome to Writer Rants–where every Friday a writer just lets loose on whatever the heck is bugging them this week. Enjoy.

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Here’s the deal. I would love to move on from just being associated with the fab world of web writers to being a true player in the world of fantasy fiction writing. Part of that deal is getting the practice and exposure for my story writing skills. See, while web writing involves most things nonfiction, fiction writing requires a whole new set of tools. I need these tools, I want to use them, and I’ll do just about anything to get where I want to go as an eventual novelist.

Win a Writing Contest!

One of those things has been to enter writing contests, namely in the form of short story writing. While I previously steered clear of anything short in relation to fiction, I’m getting desperate. I’m beginning to cave to the idea that writing short stories can help me grow into writing super long stories. Of course, I’m aware that the structure and format for short stories are quite different than the structure of tomes, but I’m willing to start small. I just want to start, period. So I came up with the grand plan of entering writing contests. Perks?

  • Someone will be forced, by stature of the contest itself, to actually read my story. This someone will not be someone in my family or social circle, so their criticism will be real. That reader will become my audience.
  • Someone might think my writing is so good that I actually win the contest.
  • Money might be involved.
  • Attention and credit for my work will be included in this whole winning scenario.

So what’s not to love?

Scammer Alert!

After looking at several writing contests and considering my story options, I decided to do some research on the actual writing contest genre. Well, I’m so glad I did; as it turns out, publishing companies can be masquerading as writing contests, hoping they’ll score a few free stories, or stories sold to them by writers in the way of contest entry fees. The stories are almost always all winners, so that they are taken and compiled into anthologies. These anthologies are then sold to the writers, for exorbitant price tags, and very little, if any, marketing is done to sell these anthologies to the general public.

That’s not the worst of it.

Publishers Balk at Anthologies

If you have hopes, like I did, of winning writing contests so you can be included in anthologies with other writers so to include these published works on your resume, queue the waterworks. Publishers, real publishers, as well as agents, will not recognize faux anthologies as part of your work history. In fact, I would dare say they hate to see anthologies on a resume as much as they hate to see self-published and unedited works listed. So what can you do to avoid this situation? Fortunately, you don’t have to avoid writing contests in general; just be wary of their source. Top places to go for legit and reputable writing contests include the top publishers in the writing industry:

Here you’ll find ongoing writing contests and sound backing from reputable associations. Of course, expect the competition to be fiercer, in comparison to writing contests leading to anthologies from unknown publishers. However, having your winning work published in The Writer is much more notable than having it published in a collection no one will ever hear of.

Miranda B loves writing more than life itself. She finds writing fiction a way to tap into her inner self, but only wishes she could share her stories with readers. One day, one day.


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