Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Writing Markets and Contests--A Whole 'Scoop'-full

The Newest Scoop is blasting through cyberspace and into your inbox right now if you are subscribed to the Excuse Editor Newsletter (if you are not, sign up here). 

There are some unique opportunities, including a chance to get your photograph taken by a famous photographer, a no-fee novel contest  with a self-publishing package prize, and  a contest with over 50 CATegories (the entires all have a 'cat' theme).

A few ideas on using the Scoop:
  • Determine if you have something already complete that meets the guidelines, or comes close.
    • If it meets all guidelines (genre, word count, etc.) and has no entry fee, SUBMIT! You have nothing to lose.
    • If if meets all guidelines and has an entry fee, SUBMIT ONLY IF you feel confident in your work and you can afford the fee (see this post for more thoughts).
    • If you have a work that is ALMOST PERFECT for one of the markets, spend some time getting it closer (always adhere to word count and genre guidelines). You may be able to cut a few words off the 1500 word piece to make it fit a 1200 word guideline, for example.
    • Do you have already published work (that you own the rights to) that you could submit? Or could something be changed just a bit to fit the market? This is a great way to get more out of the work you have already done.
  • Determine if you have enough time to write to a call for submissions.
    • Some contests are for short pieces. These are not necessarily easier to write (because of the precision shorter pieces require, the editing takes the bulk of the time) but you still may be able to write for something that is only a few days away, if you put in the effort.
    • Some contests use prompts. All the entrants are put on a more level playing field, as they all have limited time to write to what the contest is asking for.
    • If you choose a contest that has a deadline months away, set weekly goals. If you can get it done early, do it! Stand out from the pack that wait for the very last minute to submit (me).  I keep deadlines for contests/markets that are months away in the Scoop Listing until the deadline has passed because I found that I sometimes forgot that I wanted to write to it when new opportunities came up.
Good Luck! And Happy Writing!

What kinds of contests and markets are you drawn to (specific genres, categories, etc)? Do you prefer to write, then search the market, or the other way around? Or, do you find the whole thing a bit confusing? If so, what would help?

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