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Writing Contests: Definition, Types & Best Practices

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Entering a writing contest might be daunting for some writers.

They might have questions like…

Where do I go? What is at stake? Isn’t it embarrassing to have my work judged?

But there’s no need to worry!

Writing contests are pretty laid-back and an excellent way to get your work out there.

Here is one of our interesting blog topics that will answer your questions.

Keep reading to learn everything you need about writing contests for 2022.

What Is a Writing Contest?

A writing contest is a competition in which writers submit their best work for judging by a panel of experts.

The contest winners are usually announced at a ceremony and receive prizes and recognition for their achievements.

A writing contest is a great way to hone your writing skills and get feedback from other writers.

Difference Between a Writing Contest and a Giveaway?

Writing contests are usually more formal than giveaways.

They often have specific rules and guidelines that one must adhere to.

Additionally, writing contests typically have a particular topic or genre that entrants must write about.

Giveaways, on the other hand, are generally much more relaxed.

There are usually no rules or guidelines to follow, and you can enter as many times as you’d like.

Additionally, giveaways often have a wider variety of prizes than writing contests.

What Is the Purpose of Writing Contests?

There are a few different reasons why writers enter contests.

  • First, it’s a great way to see your work from a wider audience. If you win a contest, your work will be read by more people than it would if you simply published it on your own.
  • Second, winning a contest can help you build your writing resume. If you show that you’re a winner, it will be easier to get future gigs.

Why Are Writing Contests Important?

Writing contests can be a great way to improve writing skills for content creators.

It can be helpful to see how other writers approach the same topic and to get feedback on their work.

Writing contests can also be a great source of motivation.

It’s also great for brands to connect with new and upcoming content writers.

By hosting a contest, they can reach out to a whole new pool of talented writers who can help them to produce even more great content.

Benefits of Writing Contests

Writing contests help improve writing skills, can be a great source of motivation, and can also be a way to earn some extra money.

In addition, they provide a goal to work towards and a reason to keep writing even when it feels like a chore.

Writing contests force you to step outside your comfort zone by trying new things.

It is also a great way to give you exposure.

So, participating and doing your best in these contests gets your name and work out there.

Common Types of Writing Contests

The following are some of the types of writing contests.

  • Short Story Writing Contests: They’re competitions that ask writers to submit their best short stories on a given topic, usually with a word limit. A panel of experts judges the stories, and the winners receive cash prizes and publication in a literary magazine or anthology.
  • Essay Writing Contests: This writing competition often includes a cash reward. As a general guideline, you must write about a certain topic or respond to writing prompts while paying attention to style, clarity, and word count. Winning writers frequently publish their writing and receive prize money to help pay for education.
  • Poetry Writing Contests: A poetry contest is a verbal combat judged on several criteria, such as rhyme, meter, and imagery. These contests often have less strict guidelines than short story contests, so they’re perfect for writers who want to experiment with their style.
  • Book Writing Contests: In book contests, contestants are usually asked to submit a sample of their work, such as a chapter from a novel or a short story. The sample is then judged by a panel of experts, who will decide if it’s good enough to progress to the next round.

What Types of Writing Contests Are Most Popular?

The most popular writing contest types are short stories, poetry, essay, and writing contests on Facebook.

These contests usually have a word limit and sometimes a theme.

Writers submit their stories, and a panel of judges reads them and selects a winner.

Examples of Writing Contests

Here are some examples of writing contests.

The Reedsy Prompts Contest

Send in a short story for the chance to win $250 and be featured on the Reedsy Blog.

The winner will be selected from the top submissions submitted by readers of Reedsy’s weekly writing prompts.

Newbie Flash Fiction

This writing contest aims to tell a story in exactly 100 words.

Write about anything you choose, but can you tell a whole story in under 100 words? Check it out for more information.

2-4-2 Poetry Contest

Share a 2-4-2 formation. What exactly is it?

This is a poem with only three lines and eight syllables. As a result, the opening line of your poem will be two syllables long.

The second line will contain four members. The final sentence, on the other hand, will include two words once more.

The Nervous Ghost Press Book Prize

The Nervous Ghost Press Book Prizes for 2021 are available to anyone living in the United States of America who has written great poetry or prose.

All work and all writers, at whatever stage of their lives, are welcome to submit their work for publication.

Please send a completed manuscript (50,000-100,000 words for prose, 48-128 pages for poetry).

Where To Find Ideas & Inspiration for Writing Contests

One great way to find ideas for writing contests is to search for writing prompts online.

Many websites offer writing prompts, and you can use these to get your creative juices flowing.

Another great way to find ideas for writing contests is to look for calls for submissions.

These can be found on websites like Award Force and Submittable.

Calls for submissions show what types of contests are currently open and the kinds of prizes are being offered.

You can also find inspiration for writing contests by reading about past winners.

Reading about past winners can give you a feel for what types of contest entries are most likely to win.

Finally, you can find inspiration by talking to other writers.

If you know other writers who have participated in contests, ask them about their experience.

You can also join online writing communities, such as those on Reddit or Tumblr, and ask for advice from other writers.

Process of Running a Writing Contest

Running a writing contest may appear a dangerous venture for an individual, a literary magazine, or any other form of publication.

However, everything you need to know to conduct a successful writing contest is right here.

1. Give a Clear Description of Your Contest

The key to designing your contest is determining who your target demographic of possible contestants (potential subscribers/readers) is.

Your contest’s format and rules should reflect your goal of reaching out to a target market representing your newspaper’s future growth cohort.

2. Defining Your Prize

Your prize is the major marketing tool for your contest.

Choose a prize that is appealing to the cohort you are targeting.

3. Proper Judging

To reduce their time investment, offer to assess the applications and only forward those applicants who reach a specific quality.

In addition, if you can acquire a well-known ‘name’ to judge your contest, you will attract more participants by raising the prestige of the reward.

4. Promote and Advertise

Find a range of promotion venues for effective advertising.

The most beneficial promotion occurs anywhere people are already looking for ways to make money as authors (online contest listings, social media groups dedicated to paying publications, Poets & Writers Contest Issue, etc.).

Promote writing contests with more post shares and comments on social media.

How To Run a Writing Contest

Running a writing contest is a great way to improve your writing skills and attract new readers. Below are a few tips to help you get started:

  1. Choose a Topic That Interests You: If you’re passionate about the topic, it will come through in your writing and attract more readers.
  2. Make Sure the Contest Is Fair: No one wants to enter a contest that’s rigged. So make sure the rules are clear with no favoritism involved.
  3. Promote The Contest: Use social media, your blog, and other channels to get the word out. The more people who know about the contest, the more entries you’ll receive.
  4. Choose a Prize That Will Attract Entrants: You can offer a cash prize, but it should be something that writers want, such as a gift card to a bookstore or a writing software program.
  5. Judge the Entries Fairly: Be objective in your judging and choose the best entry based on your criteria.

Best Practices for Writing Contests

While it might seem like setting up a writing contest is as easy as offering a prize and setting a deadline, there’s quite a bit more to it if you want to ensure the contest is successful.

1. Minimize the Risk

Only pledge an amount that you can afford to lose.

Always think about the worst-case situation.

Can you afford to pay for the entire prize out of your pocket?

If not, reduce your beginning amount (or cancel the contest).

2. Get Enough Entries

Maximize the number of entries by making the prize worthwhile, establishing credibility, and being transparent.

A large prize is required if you receive thousands of entries.

The lower an individual writer’s odds, the more you should hand out.

Before launching a contest, establish yourself as a reputable and professional publisher/editor.

Also, keep everything about your contest a secret. Be open and honest about everything.

3. Be Unique

Every year, thousands of writing contests are held.

So naturally, you must do something different from everyone else if you want folks to enter yours.

Writing Contest Tools to Save Time and Money

Managing a writing contest can be a daunting task.

There are many moving parts to keep track of, from the submission process to judging to promoting the contest.

What Is a Writing Contest Tool?

A writing contest tool assists contest administrators in managing online award submissions and judging.

These tools will help you extend your awards, please your judges, and save time and money.

This is achieved by minimizing administrative work, decreasing stress, gaining visibility and control, distinguishing your contest with beautiful design, and making your awards the best they can be.

Our Favorite Writing Contest Tools

Here are our top picks for writing contest tools.

1. Award Force

Award Force is award-winning software that allows leading contest organizers to manage online award entry and judging.

It’s quick, secure, and a wonderful experience for entries, judges, and contest managers since it’s built for performance and purpose.

2. Submittable

Submittable is a one-stop shop that enables you to launch rapidly and maximize participation through a mobile-friendly interface.

Accept and review any digital content with ease.

Display entries in a public gallery, allow for public or private voting, and manage all contact and follow-up in a single streamlined solution.

Then, use the built-in reporting tools to track your progress and improve for the next time.

3. OpenWater

Other software applications allow you to gather online entries, but only OpenWater Awards is a real all-in-one software platform designed to streamline and simplify your whole awards program.

Forget about manila folders. Scrap the spreadsheets.

The OpenWater Awards cover all bases.

Other Related Content Types to Check Out

Besides the short stories, essays, poems, and books we mentioned earlier.

The following are related content types that you should familiarize yourself with.

Frequently Asked Questions

Now that we already know what writing contests entail, let’s have a look at the frequently asked questions below:

Are writing contests worth entering?

The value of writing competitions to you is determined by the competition, your writing goals, and your ability to endure rejection.

In addition, a writing contest can be a fun way to stretch your writing muscles, get comments on your work, and win something.

How can you tell if a writing contest is legit?

There is no certain way to identify if a contest is not legit.

Unfortunately, some writing contest organizers are quite good at spreading their falsehoods.

But below are several red indications that a contest is a scam.
By entering, you relinquish ownership of your work.
A disproportionately excessive quantity and size of cash awards
The competition judges are not unknown
Low standards—no discrimination in who is published

Wrapping up

It’s enjoyable to organize a writing contest.

First, however, you must verify that everything is set and that all conditions for the writing contest are met in terms of time, dates, and costs.

The guidelines should be adequately stated, so the candidates understand what the judges anticipate from the rules.

Your capacity to reach your chosen target market of potential entrants determines the success of your contest.

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