I have the pleasure of wrapping up this series of posts about writing contests. Unlike Mary Ann, I've never won any money in a writing contest, but several of my entries, including the first two I submitted way back in high school, did lead to publication. The poem April shared in her post perfectly captures the sense of elation those publications gave me. In fact, it was that feeling that inspired me to want to become a writer.
As Esther mentioned in her post, I've updated our Links page to include a section on writing contests. I've added a few more since Esther's post, including the Shabo Award for Picture Book Writers. Entry deadline for that one is August 10 this year, so if you're interested, don't delay. And if you know of any contests I missed, please share the information as a comment below.
There's one contest I'd like to discuss here that I couldn't provide a permanent link to because it changes every year, and that's the fiction contest associated with the annual SCBWI Midsouth Fall Conference. Last year, I entered the YA category and was fortunate to receive an Honorable Mention. While that hasn't led to publication (yet), I believe that mentioning the honor has brought more attention to my queries--at least I'm getting personalized rejections. :-) I also know that one of the agents attending the conference went up to a contest winner and asked if she was seeking representation. When the winner said "yes," the agent asked to read her winning manuscript.
Unfortunately, the 2013 SCBWI Midsouth Fiction Contest is already sold out, though there are still openings to attend the conference. But there are plenty of other SCBWI contest and grant opportunities. For example, last year, SCBWI-Illinois offered a contest as part of the annual Prairie Writer's Day. I don't know if that contest will be offered again this year, but you can watch for details on the Illinois regional events page at SCBWI. And there are all sorts of awards and grants available through SCBWI, which you can read about on the official website.
As my fellow TeachingAuthors have already mentioned, one of the benefits of entering a contest is that it provides a deadline as motivation to finish a project. I have also entered contests where, even if you don't win a prize, you receive a critique of your submission. This is true of many of the contests offered by individual chapters of the Romance Writers Association. Author Stephie Smith regularly updates an online list of such contests, including those for young adult literature. Two other contests I've entered that offer critiques and that are open to YA and/or children's literature are the Pacific Northwest Writer's Association Literary Contest and The Sandy.
If we haven't given you enough reasons for researching and entering writing contests, read this blog post at writers-editors.com. And for tips from former contest judges, see this contest tip sheet, also from writers-editors.com.
Do keep us posted if you enter any of the contests we've mentioned in this series, whether or not your entry wins. And good luck!