Red Flags When You Are Looking For Writing Contests

Posted on: 1st June 2014

Most writers, who are sweepstakes and competition buffs, are on continuous lookout for writing competitions, searching something challenging and interesting to win. In their excitement, however, they sometimes fall prey to scams. Whether you are attempting a writing competition online or offline, be careful about scams.  Almost always there would be enough red flags to warn you about it, provided you learn to recognize and read them.

  1.  Jackpot Prizes – writing contests are especially known for low fees. The fees ranges from $2-$75 based on the type. For example, poem competitions would be justified to charge $2-$5 per entry, while articles/ short stories $5-$35. If the contest is about a novel/ book the entry price could shoot up to $75.

This fee normally takes care of the expenses, payment of judges, printing of books, etc. It is usually enough to ensure that the sponsors do not incur losses. The prizes for such contests would range between $25 and $500. These would be multiple prizes, meaning that there would be more than one cash-prize winner.

Now, if you pay $2 or nothing for contest entry and the prize announced is say, $25,000 or $100,000 - you need to become alert because this would more often than not be a scam.

  1. Rights To Publish – you will come across contests that will ask you to sign over all the rights of your entry to them, and your submission becomes their property to use as they please. If you sign the entry form, you would definitely transfer all the rights to the work you are submitting.

Nothing wrong with that if you do it knowingly and after you understand the implications, i.e. you would not get any returns from this material for it would become the property of the contest sponsors.  However, many add this in fine print. Hence, be careful what you sign.

  1. You Pay To Provide Them Content – sometimes, the entry form would state that the submission would be “judged by public” and hence, all submission would be posted on the sponsors’ site. This means you are providing the site content – and you are paying (the entry fees) for it, too. This is a sweet scam.

Of course, nothing is wrong with it as long you do it voluntarily. However, you should keep in mind that once it is published you will not be able to sell rights anymore.

Learn to recognize the red flags and be careful that you do not land into a scam; even worse, you are paying these people to use your work.

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