There are contests and contests -- so what should a writer know when making a decision to enter a competition or not. Here are a list of things that a writer should know before submitting.
1. Who is the judge? A qualified judge is not going to have her / his name listed in connection with a contest that is not legitimate and if the journal is not one that will bring prestige to the judge as well as the winner. Negative Capability Press is proud to say that they have had the following writers judge their competitions in the past, among them James Dickey, Marge Piercy, and W.D. Snodgrass. Marge Piercy waived her reading fee so that the press could add another award. W.D. Snodgrass stopped in Louisiana where the winning writer lived and took him to dinner. James Dickey wrote personal letters of recommendations to journals and presses telling the editors / publishers about the top ten finalists' work.
2. Check out the Press / publication. Does the Press / publication have a website? Who have they published? Have they published other books? Check out Negative Capability Press -- negativecapabilitypress.org. Look up Negative Capability Press on Facebook and Linked-In.
3. And if you are interested in determining whether your work has a chance of winning, do this: look up the judge and read what [s]he has published. Read to learn. Reading opens new vistas that the writer may not have thought about. For example: maybe Conceptual Writing is a new, untried way of writing. Read Interviews with the judge. Read essays. What books has the judge written? What essays?
4. Who has been published by the Press? Negative Capability Press has been publishing since 1981. It has published collections of essays and poems by Marge Piercy, Karl Shapiro, William Stafford and Richard Eberhart, not to mention poetry by John Updike, Diane Wakoski, X.J. Kennedy, and even President Jimmy Carter.
5. Do you have a question? Write the publisher.