I receive several newsletters and many include contests.
Here are three tips on how to spot profitable contests.
Tip 1: Look for contests that offer a good spread of prizes.
A good spread might be a top prize of $150, 2nd prize of $100, 3rd prize of $75, plus five to ten runner-up prizes of $10 each. Such a contest gives you eight to thirteen opportunities to win.
If you enter a major contest that offers just one top prize and no other prizes, your chances of winning are slim.
Tip 2: Look for contests that offer cash awards and where contestants must meet specific criteria.
The criteria might insist the author falls within a certain age range, ethnic group, gender, occupation or nationality. Provided you truly fit these criteria, you stand a better chance of winning than if you enter a contest that places no restrictions on the entrant.
Why? The number of entrants should be fewer and the judges will be looking for elements in the story that illustrate the criteria of the contest. If all the elements of the criteria are not followed, your story will likely be tossed into the trash heap.
Note, it would be unwise to fake your identity to enter such contests.
Organizers of such contest will more than likely want to publicize their winners to support their agenda. It would be quiet embarrassing if you won and were asked to give a media interview. Especially, if the criteria were to encourage female writers and you turned out to be male. If you are a male who writes under a female pen name, contact the award organizers to see if you qualify. They may allow it or they may not.
Other criteria of contests may deal with the story itself. Several years ago I ran a contest and ask for three things to appear in the story. Over half of the contestants failed to include these elements and those stories (many of them were very good) were then deemed ineligible for the contest.
So be sure to follow the criteria, closely.
Tip 3: Seek out contests that ask for a small entry fee.
A fee of say $10 – $15 is a reasonable price if the top cash prize is in the three figures. A fee of $30 or more is probably not. For a weekly investment of $160 and an entry fee of $10 you could enter sixteen contests a week and have a good chance, not only of recouping your investment, but also making a profit. At $30 per entry, with your budget of $160, you could enter only five contests per week and would stand very little chance of winning.
Go forth and enter contests and Good Luck!
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