Now, I don't know about anyone else, but my instinct when a competition wants me to pay to enter is that they're only interested in making the money from the entry fee and not in the 'quality' of a winner, i.e. like the lottery, or those phone competitions where it's £1.50 to call in and the question is so easy it's just a raffle disguised as a competition. So, when I see writing competitions, either asking for writers to submit stories, or ones for authors to enter their published books, and then there's a fee to enter, I instantly get suspicious, my 'scam' radar goes off.
Is this just me being way too cynical?
It seems to be pretty standard in writing circles that these types of competitions have entry fees. Some claim they're just covering administration, and that could be true for the $5 ones, but then I've seen others where the competition organisers are asking $50 and over to take a book submission. This to me is daylight robbery and can't possibly be for pure administration, this is for making a profit. I didn't think competitions were about making profits, I thought they were about showcasing talent, albeit talent carefully controlled by the 'traditional' publishing fraternity if you're talking about the major literary prizes.
To be fair, I have seen a few competitions out there that are formed in the pure spirit of finding new talent, no entry fee required. The Guardian are running a monthly prize for self-published authors which requires no entry fee, all that is required is some effort to enter. And the prize, kudos and some decent publicity - a pretty fair trade I would say. :)
So every time I see someone announce a literary competition on my social media streams, I'm excited, but prepared to be disappointed if I go to the site and they're asking for an entry fee, because, even if it's a small cost, it rankles. Maybe I'm not being cynical enough then, maybe I'm not seeing the 'competition' for what it is, a marketing opportunity, and every indie author knows that publicity isn't always free. Still, if I pay for marketing, I'm guaranteed some exposure, paying to enter a competition doesn't guarantee my book will even make it to a web page in the back end of the web somewhere.
So, I'm torn. What's you opinion - are these myriad competitions just a way of turning a profit for the organisers, i.e. do they care about the winners, or are they genuinely looking to present undiscovered new talent to the world?