When your writing wins an award, it gives it more credibility. It's a badge that says to others, "My writing is good and I have proof." One competition worth checking out is the Writer's Digest Annual Writing Competition. This one, whose deadline is fast approaching, is special for a few reasons:
1. The prizes.
Not only does the grand-prize winner receive $3,000, but more important, he or she gets a paid trip to the Writer's Digest Conference in New York City, where a WD editor arranges for the winner to meet with four agents or editors. This means you get face time with someone who can actually forward your career. Not many competitions offer that kind of career-changing incentive, but that's how strongly we believe in the winners of this competition.
2. It's not overly limiting.
There are 10 different categories for you to enter and compete in. That way your YA short story is battling other YA stories in its category (though the overall winner battles with the top choices from every category). The categories are:
Inspirational Writing (Spiritual/Religious)
Magazine Feature Article
Genre Short Story (Mystery, Romance, etc.)
Mainstream/Literary Short Story
Children’s/Young Adult Fiction
3. There's 80-plus years of history at stake.
In its 82nd year, this competition has been around longer than my grandparents. That longevity is a testament to how successful and important this competition is. I remember when I helped pick the winner of the 75th, written by Mary Feuer. I got to interview her, which turned into a wonderful piece for the magazine, but she also wrote a piece for us about her experience of meeting the agents in NYC.
4. It's fun.
Putting yourself out there is a difficult thing to do. I know. As a writer who also works at Writer's Digest, I find extra pressure is put on my writing. It often made me fearful that failure would look so bad that it wasn't worth the risk to enter contests or search for an agent. Well, I put that fear behind me this year. And while I didn't win any contest (mainly because I'm ineligible for many because of my position at Writer's Digest), I did land a literary agent, get a publishing contract and release my first book.
So I highly recommend entering your work in a writing competition. I hope you consider this one, which has a long history of finding diamonds in a sea of, well, other very nice jewels. And who knows: You could be the one face to face with agents and editors come next January. But you can't get there if you don't try.