Why Judge Writer's Contests?

I received a questionaire last night asking me why I judge writer's contests, how many, etc. And it gave me pause.
Why judge unpublished and published authors' contests?

I average 7 a year. Would be more if I volunteered for all the requests I receive for them. I'm a sucker when a chapter I've judged for asks me personally. I've been getting better at ignoring some of the ones that are mass mailing requests. The reason? It takes time judging contests. Lots of time. Particularly when it's for published authors' books and you have to read 5 or 6 whole book, rather than 25-30 pages per entry for 5 or 6 authors.

So why judge? The satisfaction of giving back to the writing community. I want to help others, who may have the chance to get their manuscripts before an editor or agent that they might not otherwise. To share some advice if a writer needs some help.

And often, I find wonderful stories that I hope I'll be able to read in print some day. One I fell in love with recently is now an American Title finalist and her manuscript is still in the running. I can't wait to read her book one of these days. Another was a published author's work that I probably would never have checked out, but I love her stories and she's made a fan of me. Just because I read it in a contest.


So why judge contests? To find new authors whose books I want to read, to help the beginning writer to succeed, and helping writing chapters out that need my help, but also, sometimes looking at a manuscript, I will see what works and what doesn't, which helps to remind me what makes a story riveting, that I want to read without putting down until the very last page.
1 Response
  1. Wonderful post, Terry! I judge contests for the same reasons. But I can also get judging burn out where I can't stand to think about judging another for a long while and I have to take a break. I do always try to learn something from judging too.


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