Annie On Writing

August 16, 2011

Fake Or Not? Submitting your work to online Markets

Filed under: My Journey as a Writer,Observations,Writing Tips — Annie Evett @ 12:01 am

Submitting your work to online markets and writing specifically for the web can be a lucrative avenue for emerging writers. Not only has it the opportunity to expose you to a wider audience and demographic, be a huge boost for the ego, kick start a career financially,  but it can also introduce you to a supportive writers network. Finding these markets is as simple as doing a search on google, but with the enormous amount of opportunities presented, this task could be overwhelming.

Although there is a wide array of contests offering prizes and publication, it also opens these opportunities for scams. They come in many guises, but sadly, scam contests all have the common goal of taking your money.

How to check if its legitimate

Its not always easy to spot a scam competition or opportunity. Check these points off as you look at online markets for your work.

Entry Fees : The absence or presence of a fee doesn’t qualify that it’s a rip off. Although many organisations support the prizes by the entry fees, others use it in an attempt to ensure serious competitors entries.  Expect to pay between US $5 and US $15 for poetry, short fiction and non fiction articles; with novels and screen plays up to US $50. The ratio of the fee to the prize offered should be reasonable (i.e don’t enter a competition where the fee is $10 and the prize is $30.) Similarly, free competitions need careful consideration, particularly in the rights you may are surrendering once your piece is surrendered.

Cost: If you are submitting to an opportunity where the winners are ultimately published in hard copy format, you should never be asked to pay for the printing or publications costs, or be bullied into purchasing copies. Winning authors are normally sent a copy of the publication as part of their prize. If you have to pay to receive a copy, its possible you are dealing with a vanity publisher.

The publisher is reputable: Do some homework on who is conducting the contest or award program. If it’s an organisation, magazine, or publisher you don’t recognise, be sure to verify their existence from more sources than just their website. Check out what other publications or contests they have run and the quality of work which was awarded previously.

The publication is quality: If you are submitting to an opportunity where the winners are ultimately published in  hard copy format, do some homework on where and how it will be distributed. If the winners are published online, do some digging on the site itself, the advertising it has attached to it and links it promotes. It will be obvious if its just a money making portal or not by the quality it has previously published .

Rules and Regulations :  A legitimate opportunity will provide clear rules with information on the categories, deadlines, format, fees and prizes. In many circumstances it will outline the judging format and give examples of previous winners or expectations. It must also outline any rights you are surrendering. Don’t enter if these are not included.

Frequency of opportunities : Whilst there are good reasons to run regular competitions or openings for submissions, excessive or continuous contests could indicate that the organization is more focused on the dollar factor, than quality.

Specific opportunity: A reputable contest aught to be specific about what they are looking for. Care needs to be taken in entering or submitting to opportunities which lump all styles ( poetry, short stories, flash fiction and manuscripts of novels or screen plays) together. Similarly, awards which have dozens of categories may also be organizations looking for a fast profit without publishing quality.

As a starter, some good sources of both free and fee paying opportunities can be found at Duotrope.(

Steps to take when considering selling or submitting your work to online markets

  1. Find sites which offer similar stories or articles to those you already write.
  2. Manage your submissions with good record keeping. A simple spread sheet with the title of your  pice, date and place it was submitted should be sufficient.  Not only is it good practice, but many sites ask for exclusive publication rights.
  3. Subscribe to online zines and newsletters in your area of writing interest.  This will ensure you are kept abreast of trends and opportunities.
  4. Be professional and be consistent.
  5. Be tenacious. Just because one publications rejects your work, doesn’t mean that everyone will. You need to find the niche market suited to your style, genre and voice.

Submitting your work to online markets may seem daunting, but its through careful sifting of the myriad of opportunities, you will find the perfect platform to promote your work.


1 Comment »

  1. Some solid advice and thanks for posting this. I think if it saves just one writer from being scammed it was well worth it.


    Comment by Perry Gamsby — November 17, 2011 @ 9:32 am | Reply

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