I’ve been reading about writing contests, especially the ones that are run for a profit, as ‘public exposure’ for the writer. I’ve seen and entered a few that are legit, but there are a lot that benefit the contest organization far more than the writers who submit.
The list of ways they can take advantage is long, Writer Beware has many examples in their blog. The biggest problem is that many contests aren’t playing straight want to keep the rights to the submitted stories, that includes an excessive grab when announced in an Amtrack contest last year. Some contests offer lame prizes like some achievement badges and vague promises on their scantly organized site like Inkitt. Others promise a chance at being sent to an agent. After you’re read reports on the scam promises and charging writers through the nose for so-called editing, and formatting, and publicity, and being left with a stick of unsold books as an endtable or not even that much to show for it. You start to see the patterns of phantom employees, unspecific prizes, and lack of previous winners and about their success.
I don’t want to lose the rights for my writing for phantasmal prizes. Exposure and publicity is only a prize when it’s a big name sponsor, not Joe’s bait shop.