Writing Contests: How to Find Them

Recently, I listed 6 Ways to Win With Writing Contests. Today, I'll  show you where you can find some of the many contests there are to enter.

Writing contests are not created equal. There are mini-contests on individual blogs, regional and organization-sponsored contests, corporate and publishing contests, and contests in magazines and newspapers.

Look Local. When you're starting out, local contests are a great way to hone your skills, help you get used to the process of working under a deadline, and learn to follow guidelines. Because regional contests are not widely publicized, your chances are better, too.

Check your local newspapers and regional magazines. You can call the publication's office to find out what contests they run. Our newspaper hosts a Christmas writing contest every year.

Keep an eye out for contests hosted by businesses, including your local library. A nearby library recently ran a poetry contest, publishing the winners in booklets placed all over town. Ask your friends to let you know of writing contests they hear about.

Go with Groups. Would it surprise anyone that writer's organizations sponsor writing contests? Most of these groups do not require you to be a member in order to participate, however if there is an entry fee it might be slightly higher.

Local writer's groups will obviously give you a better chance than national groups, but don't let that stop you from submitting. Be aware that most national groups have regional chapters that host their own contests.

Check out a list of some of the national writer's associations in the United States. Here is a list of writing groups by state (although there are more regional groups than are listed here). I also found a list of associations in the UK.

No matter what genre you write, or what topics interest you, there is likely a writing group connected to it. Like the Cat Writer's Association, the Baseball Writer's Association, and the Garden Writers Association. Do an internet search for your topic or area to find more.

Corporate Contests. You may already know that Writer's Digest holds both monthly and yearly contests. But did you know that Amazon hosts a Breakthrough Novel contest?

Many companies dream up contests each year to promote their products. I remember one a few years ago from the cotton industry that solicited stories connected to cotton clothing.

Oodles Online. By far, the biggest source of contests is on the web. From small blog contests (several agents run these, like Rachelle Gardner's recent contest), to contests hosted by online or print magazines, and even publishing houses, you're sure to find something that's in line with what you write.

Where can you find these online contests? One way is to set up a Google Alert with your specific criteria. Google will email you whenever someone publishes a post with those words.

Sign up for C. Hope Clark's free newsletters, and check her blog once a week. She scours the web, so you don't have to.

Check out the database on Duotrope Digest, a list of online magazines soliciting fiction and poetry. Many of these publications run contests, which are tracked on Duotrope Digest.

Most important of all, make sure to dedicate a calendar to your contest deadlines. Follow all instructions to the letter to increase your chances of impressing judges, and get writing.

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