Writing Contest

Pitch Wars! (And Other Contests)

By on August 21, 2014 . Category Column

Pitch Wars! (And Other Contests)

With all the Pitch Wars mania after Monday’s submission deadline, I thought I’d talk about writing contests and what they can do for your craft.  They have a lot to offer, and can be beneficial in countless ways.

Here’s the thing, though: I think, if you polled 1,000,000 writers, 999,999 of them would say that, of all the terrifying things they have to do as a writer, putting their work out there in public is one of the top three.

That’s because it’s one thing to kick around an idea in our minds, or even to jot it down for our own enjoyment. Even that can be scary, at times, but at least it’s just you.

But…letting other people read it? Revealing so much of yourself to the (often very unkind) public? That is terrifying.

Which is why utilizing your writing community and submitting to writing contests is such a great way to get some feedback on your work without letting the whole wide world see it all at once.

(Note: You’re still going to want to put your best foot forward, so make sure your drafts are as polished and well-written as you can make them; the higher quality work you submit, the more valuable the feedback you’ll get!)

Here are some of the contests I think are really awesome and worth your time…


The First Line

The premise here is pretty simple: They give you the first line, you write the rest! The word count is anywhere from 300 to 5,000 words, and since it’s quarterly and on-going, you can participate anytime!

You will have to write something specific to the prompt, but some stories can be reworked to suit the required line. Winners get their work published in the TFL magazine and can win anywhere from $5 to $50!


The Great Novel Contest

Here are the details for the 2014 contest, but the 2015 contest will be opening up again soon, so now is the perfect time to start getting your manuscript ready. The prizes are pretty sweet (but I’ll let you discover those on your own!).


Shelf Unbound

Have you already self-published a novel? See if it can win you an award! Shelf Unbound is a contest for self-published authors.  There’s an entry fee of $40, but you can win $1,000, plus some serious promotion.


Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award

Amazon also offers a contest to basically anyone who wants to enter! It’s pretty comprehensive, and while 2014 entries have closed out, this is, again, a fantastic time to start getting your manuscript ready for the 2015 contest.


Bonus Round!



While not a contest, WriteOnCon is incredibly valuable and worth a mention.  It’s a free, online writer’s conference that will give you all kinds of valuable feedback, support, ideas, and all kinds of other goodies! The dates for this year’s round have passed, but bookmark it and check back for the 2015 conference—you won’t want to miss that!


So, why put yourself out there? Because you can get noticed, get feedback, and gain priceless experience in the publishing industry! All great gains for the aspiring (or current!) indie author! It’s win-win and you’ve got nothing to lose! (Well, except maybe $40.)


What’s an awesome contest you’ve entered or heard of? How have contests helped your writing?


See Also

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