A Contest – a Road to Nowhere?

Merry Christmas Eve – have you entered any holiday writing contests or submitted any holiday themed stories?  I haven’t, but I got the most random e-mail from a contest I thought was over about two months ago.  Happy Christmas to me- I finished close to not last.

Contests seem like a great option.  The free ones mean you have no risk, but usually come with little  in the way of bragging rights.  The question is, what can we learn from contests and should we actually pay to enter?

I had the notion that a contest or two would give me the publication credits I needed to put on a query.  Something that might just help me catch the eye of an agent.  Some contests even attract agents for you.  These are great benefits, great opportunities, or so I told myself.  The problem is that most contests won’t tell you where you failed.  They won’t tell you why you didn’t make it past round 1, 2, or 3.  So then what?

I suppose this is where finding a writers group is beneficial.  If you failed to finish in a number of contests take a rest. Try something new.  Branch out.  If you don’t have a group with experienced writers perhaps you should look for groups online.

Contests can be great, but when you don’t know what you are doing wrong in the first place they could just be a waste of money.

I had a short story finish in the top 200-should I be bragging about this or not?  I guess I don’t think it is worth much since I still can’t tell you where I went wrong, other than the typo’s I embarrassingly missed.

Do you contest or not?