We know why the numbers have become smaller. Self-publishing.
Of course, anyone can be published with a mere push of a button. Doesn't everyone want a shortcut to a successful career? Hey, a few have reached that. But out of the thousands upon thousands of self-published books, ninety-plus percent are not best sellers.
Sure, there are contests out there for self-published books. But wouldn't you rather enter your unpublished manuscript into a contest and get feedback before the whole world sees it?
I believe that all unpublished (author) contests should take a long look at their rules (and some have already) and allow any author to enter. That will help with their number of entries and increase their revenue.
Thankfully some have allowed published authors to enter as long as the manuscript is unpublished and in another category than what they're published in. E.g., Show Me The Spark, Great Expectations.
Or just that the manuscript to be unpublished (can be same category). E.g., Tara, Hot Prospects.
So here's my list of good things that come about entering 'unpublished' contests in case you've forgotten.
1) Where can a person receive three critiques of twenty-five pages or more, and cost only $10 per critique?
2) If you final, your latest manuscript is placed in front of an editor or/and agent. Plenty of people out there say they don't need to write for a big five publishing house. Congratulations. Then that means your books are selling like hot cakes. But we know that's probably not true. And despite what you think, there are authors who write for their dream publishers and got there through contests. Paula Graves is one that comes to mind.
3) And if it is a finalist and you don't get a request, that doesn't matter. It's great info for a query letter. Side note: If you final in several small contests, just mention the number of contests, not the names. The editor might not recognize the names. But if it is a big one (Molly, Maggies, Golden Heart), then certainly mention the name.
4) If nothing more, sometimes it's nice to have an ego boost when your entry is a finalist and one of the judges tell you they can't wait until it's published.
So the answer is NO. It isn't a waste of time.
Former Contest Diva
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