Poetry Book Contests

October 16, 2009

Educardo Corral wrote about “big contests” on his blog. When you are entering contests, you should consider several points. Your answers to the following questions will vary based on your available time, patience, interest and experience:

  • Do I want the press to do most of the promotion for me? Am I comfortable seeking out readings and engaging in promotional activities, or do I view promo work as “bad”?
  • How important is a big-name press to me? Do I need the name of a big press to get a teaching job?
  • Will the press send my book out to contests, which would help increase readership and notice? If yes, which ones?
  • If entering a contest, is the judge known to be fair or to pick his/her students?
  • Would I buy and enjoy books from the press offering the contest?
  • Do I like the book design of the press in question? What role do I want to play in cover selection?
  • Are the books from the press bought by libraries? You may want these additional sales or to have a more permanent “home” for your poetry book in an academic or public library.

Part of Eduardo’s post is below:

i’m a bit ashamed of my reluctance to enter more contests. it’s not a question of money. even though i’m broke, i would find a way to pay for the contest fees. i hate to say this: but i want to win one of the “big” contests. i know this is silly and dumb and unrealistic. i should know better. correction: i do know better. i have friends languishing in contest purgatory. friends with good/ great collections that never get picked for the big prize. and these friends aren’t limiting themselves to a few contests. no, they’re entering a lot of them. and yet, they’re still struggling to find homes for their collections.

Previous post:

Next post: