10 Ways to Make the Most of Your Chapter Contest


  1. Include all pertinent information in your announcements. Your best chance of attracting an entrant is when they first spot the contest. Be sure to include the contest name, RWA chapter, rules, entry fee, method of submission, deadlines and judges. A click link to the website with the information is very handy, as well as a contact e-mail for questions.


  1. Make announcements on the e-loops. Start with your chapter loop and note that the e-mail can be forwarded. Ask members send the message to other loops that are writing-related. Post your message more than once, at least two weeks before the deadline for last-minute entries.


  1. Send the contest info to eNotes. This e-mail is sent to all RWA members the 1st and 15th of each month and lists contest deadlines and industry news. Go to the Members Only section of the RWA website and click on the eNotes page to find out how to submit.


  1. Take advantage of a free mention in the Romance Writer’s Report. Post your announcement in the Chapter Contests and Conferences column. You must be ready two months in advance of when the message is to first appear. It can run for the three months prior to the month of the submission deadline. Make the most of the opportunity by having the final round judges’ names there.


  1. Advertise any aspect of the contest that makes it stand out. An appealing description includes the number of manuscripts requested by editors the previous year.


  1. Be good to the judges, you’ll probably want them back. Take note of which first round ones received thank you notes from entrants for constructive feedback. When you send your thanks, ask if you can contact them again the next year. It’s nice to have judges ready lined up in advance. Send a small gift to your final round judges—the agents and editors. Not only might you be requesting their help again, but they may see your name on a manuscript in the future.


  1. Keep to a schedule. Having an outline of what needs to be done when makes the contest coordinator position much easier.



  1. Maintain good communication with all the people involved. The more organized the process, the smoother it runs during the difficult moments when a problem may arise. You never know when you might need to ask for help. List phone numbers and addresses of contacts together.


  1. Note adjustments on the schedule. Make a record for the coordinators who will follow in your footsteps. Keep a sample copy of each different type of letter sent for reference in the current contest and future ones. You don’t have to say the same words every year, but it helps to know what’s been done and whether or not it worked.


  1. Remind the chapter that each member contributes to the success of the contest and benefits from it. The chapter coffers fill nicely with contest proceeds and allow varied speakers and programs. If members are not entering the contest, they may offer to judge or help out the contest coordinator in various ways to ease the burden.



Copyright 2005.  Originally appeared in Rumpled Sheets, September 2005, Publication of the Missouri Romance Writers of America.  Please This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for right to reprint.