Red Flags of Writing Contests

C. Hope Clark


First timer
While every contest has to start somewhere, still keep your eyes open with an inaugural launch. Even with the best of intentions, they may not have ironed out the wrinkles of managing such events.

No humans
Generic email address? P.O. Box? No website? Reason enough to move on.

High entry fee
Entry fees can be relative. A $5 fee might sound fine, unless the first prize is a T-shirt or a $10 gift certificate. A $10 fee could be reasonable, unless the first prize is $25. Fees in themselves are not a negative–but the ratio of entry fee to prize money is the tell-tale sign.

Past winners
Where have they published? Read their blogs. Study their careers. You can tell a lot about the quality of the contest by the quality of the winner.

If a contest wants all rights for entering, run away. If a contest wants one-time or first rights to publish and publicize your award, then fine.

Not all judges are identified, and the lack of identity doesn’t necessarily rule out a competition. You may not care, but prestige can come from being judged by someone known in his field. If you want to know the judges, email and ask. If the contest sponsors dodge you, reconsider.


C. Hope Clark is a mystery novelist who also evaluates contests for writers at Funds for Writers. Her site has been among Writer’s Digest Magazine’s annual 101 Best Websites for Writers for more than ten years.

In a guest post for Writer Beware! she lists some things to consider before you submit an entry to a contest.  Read full article.

About Springfield Writers' Guild

Springfield Writers' Guild was formed in 1943 to encourage new writers and hone the skills of the writing craft. The group meets every fourth Saturday of the month (except for December) at McAlister's Deli, 1711 W. Battlefield in Springfield, Missouri. Visitors are welcome.
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