Pay to enter short story contests?

by Rita Ashley
(medford, OR)

What is your opinion of paying for entry to short story contests?

Does a writer get any substantive exposure using contests if they are not the winner?


A few years ago, I would have advised you not to pay, as only suspect contests asked writers for an entry fee. This is no longer true.

It will be difficult to find writing contests that do not charge a fee. This is because contests are labour intensive and cost a significant amount to administer.

An individual or group will spend many hours promoting the contest with advertisements and listings, both in print and on the web. They also need to manage submissions, read manuscripts, make decisions and award prizes.

An entry fee also offsets the cost of the prize itself, which is often substantial.

But a fee should be proportionate to the prize offered. You should not be asked to pay a $25 entry fee for a $100 prize. That's someone trying to make a buck. A small prize should have a small fee. If the prize is several thousand dollars, a $25 fee may be justified.

The writer will gain no exposure unless he or she wins the contest or is shortlisted.

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