The World of Writing Competitions

Guest Blog by Patsy Collins

All writers will, I’m sure, be aware of the big differences between competitions. They vary from the highly prestigious with large prizes, kudos and publicity for the winners, to those where your greatest reward will be a warm glow when the ‘well done’ email comes through. Some are free to enter, some have hefty fees and some are complete scams.
Not all writers though are aware of the huge numbers of writing competitions. There are hundreds of them currently open to submissions. Maybe thousands. I don’t mean there are hundreds of  them worldwide, many requiring entrants to write in Norwegian, or be under 12, or be female or whatever. There are hundreds out there right now that you could enter.
So where do you find them, how do you know if they’re genuine and is there any point having a go?
You can find them via writing groups, forums and blogs and internet searches. I find several free to enter competitions each week that way – and post the details on my blog.
Checking they’re genuine can be done in much the same way, but use common sense too. Read the rules thoroughly and only enter if you accept the terms. Remember if you win you’ll be the one being rewarded and shouldn’t ever be asked for any kind of fee as a result of winning. Be cautious about paying a large fee to a competition or company that doesn’t already have a good reputation.
It is worth entering! As with most writers, when I first started submitting work I received a constant stream of rejections. Luckily for me, during that time, I won a book token in a very small local competition for 40 word stories. That boosted my confidence enough to cope with dozens more rejects before my first ‘proper’ short story was published.
I still enter a few competitions and although I often come nowhere, recently I’ve won several worthwhile prizes. A 250 word story earned me a lovely bag that I now use for  my writing groups, conferences etc and a copy of ‘Write to be Published’ by Nicola Morgan. A couple of short blog comments netted me two great books from ChocLit. I won a poetry competition and my cash prize was presented to me at a dinner in the House of Commons!
My latest and biggest win saw me beat over 600 other unpublished novelists and win publication of my novel ‘Escape to the Country’. The paperback will be published on 30th March and available via Amazon, Waterstones and other bookshops. An ebook will follow shortly afterwards.
So whether you’re after a nudge to get you writing something new, hoping for a small boost to your confidence or hoping for a publishing contract, I urge you to give writing competitions a go! Good luck.

Patsy Collins started writing fiction by attending evening classes and has since had over 150 stories accepted for publication in the likes of Woman’s Weekly, Yours and Candis. Her novel ‘Escape to the Country’ will be published 30th March. To find out more about Patsy Collins and upcoming writing competitions she recommends take a visit to her blog.