Entering into Writing Competitions for Teenagers



Tips on writing competitions for teenage writers

Writing competitions are an ideal way for teenage writers to boost their writing career. Writing competitions also force you to adhere to deadlines and to perfect your work for submission. When entering writing competitions, you will need to watch out for the following:

1. How much do you have to pay to enter?

Be wary of writing competitions that charge an exorbitant amount of fees without compensatory prize money or other offerings. For example, charging $150 when the prize money is $500 without any further benefits to the competition entrant.  A small fee is reasonable provided that conditions on copyright and use of materials you submit are not onerous.

2. Who owns the copyright?

Read the terms and conditions carefully on copyright. Writing competitions vary in their terms – do not submit your work to writing competitions that requires you to assign all rights to the organizer or that allows the organizer to freely use your work in any way.

You should remain the copyright owner in your work and should be granting only a limited, non-exclusive copyright license to the organizer. Examples of onerous clauses which you should watch out for include:

  • “… irrevocably assign and transfer all rights in the work to the sponsor/publisher…”
  • “…to be reproduced, published, used… for any purpose whatsoever…”
  • “…including rights to freely edit or modify your work…”
  • “…including any moral rights to be named as author…”

3. Are there any caveats regarding low entry numbers?

Some organizers may not give out prizes if they receive insufficient entries to the writing competition. Most writing competitions like these are scams as you will not see your money back despite the competition having been cancelled or despite them not awarding the prize money to anyone.

4. Will the results be published?

Do not enter into any writing competitions that do not expressly provide details of publication of the results.

5. Who are the judges?

Judges for a competition should be made known to you. If they are unfamiliar names, do some research on them – are they appropriate? Be careful about terms and conditions that allow the organizer to replace judges at will.

6. Avoid competition fatigue

Do not enter into too many competitions. If you are keen to build your reputation as a writer of a particular style and genre, enter into writing competitions that offer you the opportunity to showcase that style.

7. Always follow submission rules

Finally, all writing competitions will have their own submission rules. They may include using a particular font (e.g. Times New Roman 12pt) or particular format (e.g. double spacing) and rules regarding the submission process.

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