Sisters in Crime and all its multiple groups offer so much support and useful advice. This weekend I’ll attend the New England Sisters in Crime Crimebake conference. The panels, master classes, and the guests of honor consistently interest and surprise. I look forward to seeing again writers and members of SinC I don’t see often. Mystery Writers of America also sponsors Crimebake but my daily contact with writing groups comes through Sisters in Crime.
I’ve frequently found the advice and information in Guppy emails useful. Recently an email suggested checking out Writers Village that offers contests four times a year. People visiting the site can read for free stories written by winners and runners up in the contests of 2010 and 2011. Winners came from the US and Australia as well as from the UK where the site originates.
Several of the winning stories and runners up held my attention and involved me emotionally. The stories I stopped reading belonged sometimes to a genre I rarely read or portrayed a protagonist too fantastic for my taste.
Winners collect $400. The judges set out their criteria for picking a winner. Even if writers don’t win, they receive feedback.
The site also offers a mini course on how to win writing contests for profit. The course suggests ways of finding contests and criteria a writer can use to judge the contests they find. A writer needs to check out the fee to prize ratio and the spread of prizes. Contests to avoid have promoters without writing credentials, you’ve never heard of the judges or the judges aren’t named, the text at the contest site shows evidence of poor writing, previous winners aren’t show-cased, or, if the winners are show-cased, you can’t understand how the stories won. A writer should avoid a contest that tries to sell another service or product, such as inclusion in an anthology. Maybe the prize isn’t much financially but perhaps the winner is offered a three-month residency or the opportunity to attend a well-known weekend conference.
Apparently there are writers who re-edit the same story to enter different contests and prosper using this method. I think I’d prefer to write a new story, although all that editing could be good for my writing.
Entering a contest presents a challenge beyond submitting to a magazine. The contest criteria offer the writer a clear focus and goal. I plan to look into the world of contests. Several I’ve already reviewed offer feedback on entries and that is always welcome.