# of writing contests entered: 2
My general advice about contests is to enter a few a year, just for kicks, but don’t expect anything. In fact, best to submit and forget. The odds are not in your favor. That being said, look for contests that give a free subscription with your entry fee, like Narrative or Indiana Review. Look at the judges — do you like their work? If not, they might not like yours. Also look at the prizes. If the prize is $100 and the entry fee is $20, it’s probably not worth it.
As I was combing through various writing magazines, I came across the following contests that jumped out at me for their craziness, their coolness, and, sometimes, for their cost-effectiveness. Be sure to read all the details carefully on the websites. These are my descriptions, not theirs.
CRAZY COOL WRITING CONTESTS:
Tattoo-Haiku2: For only $5 you can enter the 555 Collective’s haiku contest for a chance to win a $555 Amazon gift certificate. All proceeds go to Cedar Tree Inc., a writing program for at-risk youth, and the winning haiku will be tattooed on the editor.
The Glass Woman Prize: Is only open to women authors who are former readers for the prize, which seems pretty fair to me. They had to suffer through a bunch of bad stories — they deserve to be awarded. Just become a reader this year then enter the contest next year with your fiction or nonfiction piece. Winner gets $500.
Dancing Poetry Contest: The three grand prize winners not only receive $100, they also will see their poem “danced” at the Dancing Poetry Festival. All prizewinners (21 in all) will get tickets to the festival, a reading opportunity at the festival, and a” certificate suitable for framing.” Only $5 to enter.
The Burlesque Press Hands-On Contest & Dark Contest: Enter your fiction, nonfiction, or poetry piece for a chance to win a free registration to the 3-day Hands-On Literary Festival and Masquerade Ball being held in New Orleans this New Year’s Eve. Winners will also receive a $250 stipend and a featured reading at the festival. For the Dark Contest (enter your mystery, noir, macabre, etc. fiction, nonfiction, or poetry) winners will get all of that great stuff, but for one of the 2014 BP writing retreats: Krakow, Poland or Edinburgh, Scotland – your choice.
Sixfold Writer Voted Contest: Do you think the snooty writing contest judges don’t know good literature when they see it? Well, for a $6 fee you can upload your short story or poem then vote within your genre to determine the winning manuscripts. First/second/third places get $1000/$200/$100.
Gemini Short Story Contest: No restrictions on content, style, genre, or length. So, basically, send them whatever. Just make sure it’s good. The fee is only $4, and the prize is $1000, so I’d say this one is definitely cost-effective.
Tom Howard/John H. Reid Short Story Contest: Sure, the entry fee is $16 (still a steal compared to others), but with ten cash prizes totaling $5,550, and a top prize of $3,000, this is another cost-effective contest.
Literal Latte: Offers five annual contests with a fee of $10 each, but you can get discounts if you enter more than one. Submit to the fiction, flash fiction, poetry, or essay contest. Of, if you like to wax poetic about all the wonderful things there are to eat, consider entering their food verse contest.
The Playboy College Fiction Contest: It’s only $5 to enter for a chance at winning $3000 and publication in Playboy. I won third place in 2009 (no publication, but I got a $1000 check from Hugh Hefner), and trust me, my story was not sexy in the least. As long as you’re in college (grad school counts), send them the best, most crowd-pleasing story you’ve got.