Competition entry fees: are they worth the costs?

Nobody likes paying entry fees for literary prizes, but why do they exist and how can we alleviate this exclusionary practice?

Many literary competitions require submission entry fees. It’s an unspoken assumption that such fees are necessary to pay for administrative costs of the running of the prize itself, and also to help pay for the labour of the judges, who have to read hundreds of entries, of varying length and merit.

However, there’s often a lack of transparency in how these funds are actually accounted for, which leads to a widespread belief that fee-paying competitions carry an unfair bias for those with monetary advantage.

Unlock Padlock Icon

Unlock this content?

Access this content and more

Thuy On is Reviews Editor of ArtsHub and an arts journalist, critic and poet who’s written for a range of publications including The Guardian, The Saturday Paper, Sydney Review of Books, The Australian, The Age/SMH and Australian Book Review. She was the books editor of The Big issue for 8 years. Her first book, a collection of poetry called Turbulence, came out in 2020 and was published by University of Western Australia Press (UWAP). Her next collection, Decadence, was published in July 2022, also by UWAP. Twitter: @thuy_on