I'm assessing which contests to enter my manuscript in, and one of the surprising elements are the perks you get just for entering. I find it makes a difference to me to get a copy of the winning book, even if the entry fee is $5 more. It also makes a difference if they name the judge in advance. I mean, there are just some poets who aren't going to like my work. I know who some of them are! (I think.) So I rule out the contests that leave out a giant perk of knowing who might make the winning pick, should I get so very lucky as to get into the final round.
Then there are the miscellaneous perks: a cash prize for a runner-up. Possible publication of a second manuscript if one is found worthy. One of the oddest perks I saw was Gival Press, which recruits the previous year's winner to be the judge of the next contest, presumably for a fee.
Whatever the perks offered, when you crunch the numbers of running a book contest, it becomes clear that not offering some kind of perk is a bit stingy. Though some contests are presumably run to support a magazine and publishing a full slate of non-contest-selected titles, some aren't. One wonders what they do with the money, when printing costs are quite low these days, even in small quantities. One hopes they lavish it on advertising and book tours for the winners.
Interesting to pick and choose based on the perks factor.
Then there's also the lesser-competition factor. I'll save that for my next post.