Writing contests are all about winning the prize, wining a prize money, right? Wrong. Writing contests are about a variety of things more than just the listed prize. You don’t even have to win to get something out of a writing contest. One of the biggest things you get out of every writing contest that you submit to is experience.
Something else you get is exposure. Your work, your name, your style all gets exposure through writing contests and book awards. That exposure can be a good way to help you find a literary agent and to get published. Take a look at some ways that a writing contest can help you find a literary agent.
The first and best way that a writing contest can help you find a literary agent is through the judges. Some contests are judged by literary agents, they read the pieces that are submitted to them and can’t help but become interested. Even if the agent isn’t interested in your entry, they may be interested in your voice and reach out to you.
A judge, like some of the literary agents and publishers on our judging panel, may find your work interesting and while they may not be the agent to publish your work, they might know someone who would be very interested in your work. Your work could end up being forward to them or the judge may end up contacting you to discuss your writing.
If you do win, your writing gets out into the world and people will see it. Those people include agents, editors, publishers, and readers. Many literary agents look to contests to find new talent because writers at all levels of their writing career enter these contests. A winner might be that fresh talent that they have been looking for or even a writer that doesn't win can still find a literary agent.
Contests Can Be Used In Query Letters to Agents
When writing to a literary agent and introducing yourself you can use being a winner or a finalist as part of your introduction. Citing this lets the literary agent know that you already have work out there, work that other people have liked and rated. The literary agent is going to be more likely to work with someone who is already established in some way and writing contests can do that for you.
Not Just The Literary Agent
Writing contests help you to get more than just literary agents. Some contests help writers get publishers and agents too. A wide variety of people are involved in writing contests and a good number of them can be great allies to your writing career. Check out our list of literary agents and publishers looking for writers to publish.
You also have the potential to meet other writers and even get a mentor through a writing contest. A judge or someone else involved in the contest may become interested in you and want to mentor you. There is also the possibility that if you win you will get to meet people involved in the writing world from far and wide.
Looking for an example of someone who got an agent through a writing contest? Kate Wiseman got her agent through losing a writing contest. She submitted her work to an agent when she was a finalist in a writing contest and mentioned that she was a finalist when she reached out to the agent. That mention might have been just what she needed to get into the agent’s door.
Whether you are looking to become the world’s next big author or just want to be published, submitting to a writing contest can be a great way to get there. Whether you end up winning or not you will always get experience and have the potential to meet professionals in the writing community. With there being plenty of free writing contests on the internet, there is no reason not to try submitting.