top of page

Competition Tiers Explained: Where are my entry fees going?

As some of you have probably seen, there’s now a litte prefix on our Competition descriptions that says either ‘Tier 1’, ‘Tier 2’, or ‘Tier 3’.

So, what does this mean?

In short, the higher the tier, the higher the stakes. We realised that there’s likely a need to differentiate our service and what we provide, because not every person who enters is looking for exactly the same thing.

Writing advice for writers

And, from the outside, if you didn’t take note of the tiers system, you may wonder why one competition is just £3.00 to enter, and another is £20.00. That seems like a pretty big disparity, and if it’s just the prize fund that’s different, then does that jump in prizes do enough to warrant spending so much more on an entry fee? Honestly, no - it doesn’t, which is why it’s not just the prize fund that’s different. So, how are we breaking things down, and offering as much bang for your buck as we can across all tiers?

Firstly, and this goes for all of our competitions - you’re competing for a publication. All of our competition shortlisters are placed in either our Anthology or our Literary Magazine - that’s the first prize that’s up for grabs, and it’s kind of a big one, right? A publishing credit to your name is invaluable, and we want to make sure we’re offering that to everyone that enters a Grindstone competition, and not just those who are willing to spend money on the higher entry fees.

Secondly, there’s always going to be feedback and placement. If you enter a writing competition, then Grindstone feel that you deserve two things. Firstly, the peace of mind that someone has read your work, and then carefully considered its merits. Secondly, a sense of placement - of how well you did in comparison to those who won or placed. And, lastly, a little bit of closure. We want not only to tell you how you did, but also quantify that placement for you, with feedback from our judges which outlines some good things, some things that could have been improved, and more importantly, how you might improve them.

Those are the things that every entrant into any of our competitions is entitled to, and it’s what you’re guaranteed to get for entering. That much is assured. So, then, what do you get for paying £20.00 over £3.00? There must be a reason? Well, there is, and it comes in the differences in the feedback that you get.

Writing advice for writers

We pay all of our judges to read and judge your work. A large portion of the entry fee goes towards that. The rest then goes to cover the prize pools, the publication of the Magazine and Anthology, as well as towards our running costs - web hosting, advertising, content, social media management, and everything else. As you can imagine, from £3.00, there’s nothing left over.

Because of that, we can’t offer huge prize pools, or pay our judges as much when it comes to those lower tier competitions. Because we can’t pay the judges as much, we can’t expect them to spend the same amount of time giving feedback on your work. But, for those who perhaps aren’t ready to expend a larger amount of money on the higher tier competitions, this offers a great way to enter into the field of competitive writing, and test their mettle against other writers. In that scenario, gaining feedback, placement, and the opportunity for publication is a pretty great value-for-money deal, right?

Let’s break it down a bit more, so you know exactly what you’re getting for each tier.

Tier 1

Our Tier 1 competitions are always going to feature the same fee and feedback structure, and the lengths and natures of the competitions will vary slightly.

Entry Fee: £3.00

Prizes: £50, £10, Shortlist Publication

Feedback: 100-150 words of light editorial feedback that focuses on the broader strokes of your work, and how they might be improved in a general sense.

Tier 2

Our Tier 2 competitions are a little more variable, and will encompass both poetry and fiction of varying lengths, but, will remain structured in regards to the fee and feedback structure.

Entry Fee: £5.00

Prizes: £100, £25, Shortlist Publication

Feedback: 150-200 words of editorial feedback that scrutinises the finer points of your work in a little more detail, taking into account both the general and more nuanced efforts made to create a refined and professional piece of writing. Marking is a little tougher, and our judges will offer a more critical view of your writing, and how it can be developed, though the field of view is limited by the length of the feedback available.

Tier 3

Our Tier 3 competitions are the highest stakes, and can vary in both length and form. Fee and feedback structures can vary accordingly, but will reflect both the calibre of the feedback and prizes offered, as well as secure the presence of a special guest judge to help decide the winning pieces.

Entry Fee: £10.00-£20.00

Prizes: £500-£1000, £50-£100, Shortlist Publication

Feedback: 300-350 words of critical feedback that challenges the writing on every level. Marking and judging will be especially tough and punishing. Our judges focus on both the overarching qualities of the work and the attention to detail paid by the writer. Analysis will be given in regards to the finer facets of the work, and serious editorial advice will be offered to give context to the work in both the competition and the wider world of writing.

Our Tier 3 competitions are a big deal, and we’ve already got some pretty amazing guest judges lined up. We want to make sure that you know, and trust what we do here, and that you are fully aware of how seriously Grindstone takes what we do. We’re not just doing things as we please - we’re a collective of professional and published writers that make every effort to offer a service, as well as an opportunity to further your career.

writing advice for writers

Getting a publication credit is one thing, but winning a competition judged by a bestselling author, poet, industry figure or agent is an accolade achieved by very few. We really wanted to bring on board these prominent figures in the industry to give more credence to our winners, and to help and allow them to make contacts in the world of writing.

So, when someone says to us, as they have, do we think that £10 or £20 is a little steep for an entry fee into a competition, we say no, we don’t think so at all. In fact, we feel like we’re offering a lot for that. We feel like we’re really offering a lot.

But, if you do feel like that, because of any number of reasons, then you can feel seriously assured that our care and attention is carried through all three tiers of our competitions, and that the entrants into our Tier 1 competitions are no less important than those into our Tier 3s.

We care about you, and we care about writing. This world is very difficult to succeed in, and our sole aim is to ease that transition and offer any and every opportunity we can. Unfortunately, however, to do that, we have to charge entry fees. We just wanted to take a few minutes to elucidate to you where they actually go, and that, above all else, they are damn well spent.

To all those thinking about entering, and who are unsure - please, get in touch, keep up with us on Twitter, and see that we’re writers trying to help writers - and nothing more.

And for all those who have already become a part of Grindstone, we sincerely thank you for your support so far, and we can’t wait to see more of your work!

If you’d like to become a part of Grindstone, then just register an account, and embrace a new world of writing:

It is free to register, after all!

Thanks for reading, and as always, keep on writing!



bottom of page