When I first started writing, I entered contests hoping to get feedback that would help make my manuscripts even better. And of course, I entered hoping to win. Who doesn't?
But after entering 8 to 10 contests within a couple of years, I decided they weren't worth the expense. Back then you not only had to pay the entry fee which usually ranged anywhere from $25 to $40, but you also had to mail 3 or 4 printed copies of 30 pages or more plus a story set up or synopsis and include return postage so your entries and scores could be sent back to you. There was no electronic entry option at the time.
Pretty soon all those entry and postage fees added up and I didn't feel I was getting anything of value out of them. Most of the time, I'd get one or two really high scores, one good score, and usually one bad or terrible score. The scoring and comments varied so widely that it was hard to tell what worked in the story and what needed to be changed. I'd get comments like, "great characterization" and "characterization is dismal and needs work" or "great opening hook" and "needs a better opening hook" from the same contest entry. So was the characterization and opening hook good or not? Who knew? From such contradictory feedback, it was hard to tell. Then there were the contests where you got little to no feedback at all and it was hard to tell why you received the scores you did.
Knowing all this, I've decided to dip my toes back into the contest world. I'm entering one of my published novels in a contest within the next couple of weeks. I'm not entering expecting to win, but I will admit I'm hoping to be one of the finalists. I'm entering because the judges are readers and booksellers and I'm interested in hearing what they have to say.
Wish me luck. :o)