So what about writing competitions that charge submission fees? I've often heard people express hesitation, including in blog comments here, about those fees. I think it's wise to be cautious, absolutely, and writing competitions are by no means exempt from possible scams.
However. I think if there's any area where you're going to fork up some cash to invest in your writing career, I think the many awesome legit competitions that go on year-round are a great place to do it. Short of logistical costs for self-publishers (cover designers, editors, publicists, etc.) it may be the best place for writers to put their money.
Why? I'll tell you why.
There are limited ways for us writers to invest in our careers. We're putting in all this work, but there are only so many ways for us to put our writing out there, get it in front of people. If we're serious about our careers, then we want to take every chance we can, don't we?
Think of it from a purely financial standpoint. The chances of winning any of these competitions is very slight, right? That's true. So say you spend, over a year long period, maybe two hundred dollars on entrance fees and win one contest, where you win five hundred. That's three hundred, right? So say its not even that. Say you barely brake even when you finally win a competition. Say that puts you in a magazine that maybe three hundred people read, and ten of those people buy your book. That's ten more people who buy your book, who tell your friends. Profit gained. And because its hard to gauge something so exponential, it just all keeps building and building into a larger career. Bam. Win.
And then there's the people you're submitting to directly. They're members of the literary world. You never know when you're going to get your work in front of the exactly right pair of eyes. Plus building up that list of credits only helps you when you're querying agents and writing bylines.
The end. That's why I think many writing competitions are worth the entrance fees. I'm not suggesting you need to spend half your paycheck on it. I am suggesting it might be worth it to, every so often, stay in for dinner instead, and use the money to put some writing where it might be seen.
Thoughts? Agree? Disagree?