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Looking for Childrens' Competitions and Awards

By: Angelique Caffrey - Updated: 18 Feb 2013 | comments*Discuss
Contest; Competition; Children’s

Many writers have a natural bent toward competitiveness. If you’re a creative author who fits this mould and enjoys composing works for younger audiences you may be interested in submitting your pieces to children’s writers’ competitions.

Without a doubt, it can be quite satisfying to send your most exceptional poems, plays or short stories for consideration in regional, national and international writing competitions. Beyond the sheer fun of it all, the prizes can also be significant, from publishing contracts to paid, all-inclusive writers’ conference trips.

However, finding children’s writing competitions and awards may seem a bit of a daunting task. Obviously, the first step is to simply perform an Internet search which will undoubtedly provide you with plenty of options… probably more than you intended, in fact.

Yet not all competitions are created equal. Here’s how to quickly “weed out” those that are not worth your time and effort and how to stay “safe” when submitting to contests:

1. Beware of High Entrance Fees

Entry fees for children’s competitions will vary depending upon the entity offering the contest and/or resulting awards. Most of the legitimate ones are not going to be more than a modest amount though.

Remember that this isn’t a “paying gig”; you’re not going to necessarily get any return on your investment. So be cautious of entering competitions with super-high fees unless they are run by extremely prestigious publications, companies or publishers.

2. Maintain Realistic Copyright Expectations

If you enter a competition and win, you may receive a few hundred pounds as a prize. At first, that could seem a lucrative and acceptable outcome. But you need to make certain that you’re not giving away all the rights to your piece as a result.

Most competitions will only ask for one-time or first-time rights to publish winners’ works; this is acceptable and typical. But if you’re expected to sign over all the rights to your entry if you win, look elsewhere for a competition in which to enter.

3. Choose a Reputable Competition or Contest

Sure, it could seem like a good idea to send entries to dozens of children’s writing competitions, but if you win, will it really mean anything to future editors, literary agents or publishers?

There’s no point in blanketing your entries across the four corners of the globe, because if you win a competition that’s not well-regarded, you won’t even be able to use it as a credential on your curriculum vitae (CV).

4. Do Your Research

Always investigate any children’s writing competition thoroughly, from the names and backgrounds of the judges to the identities of past award recipients. If former winning writers’ works are available online, read them carefully to determine if you really want to be associated with the organisation.

Don’t allow the “purse” to be your guide. Money is great, but it doesn’t build a positive writing reputation.

5. Don’t Be Cash Driven

Sure, it would be wonderful to win a competition that offers a £5,000 first prize. Still, don’t allow yourself to simply enter writing contests for the possible profits.

Be certain to focus your intentions on becoming a better writer, getting your writing seen by other writers and readers and trying something new, not getting some extra cash. Otherwise, you’ll be entering children’s writing competitions for all the wrong reasons.

In the end, it’s important to remember that competitions and awards, though definitely alluring elements of the world of children’s writing (and other creative writing), aren’t the “be all and end all”. They are simply one facet of what is truly an innovative, exciting adventure.

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