I have a writing friend who gets downright angry when a contest extends the deadline. He considers it an insult, or that the editors are looking for specific people who didn’t make the deadline. In reality, contests are run by people and they make mistakes or misjudge or simply didn’t plan well enough ahead.
Here’s how I see it when a contest announces a later deadline for submissions:
1. The obvious. They didn’t receive enough quality submissions.
Keep in mind that their reputation is based upon what they publish as a result of contest entries. So, if they extend the deadline in order to obtain better material, is that so wrong? However, if I had entered on time and saw an extended deadline, admittedly, I would interpret that as my work not being acceptable enough. Professionally, however, I see this as the contest not being organized enough to get the word out properly. Just my two cents.
2. They received fewer entries than expected.
Contests like to grow over time. When I ran the FundsforWriters Essay Contest for nine years, the submissions grew in number each year. . . such that I could not manage it any longer and write novels at the same time. That number is representative of a contest’s success in reaching the masses – the talented writers out there. If last year a contest brought in 325 entries, and this year, a week before the deadline, they’ve only received 150, something went awry. The contest doesn’t want it known that the numbers dropped, so they extend the deadline.
3. They need more money to cover prize money.
This reason isn’t as common as one might think, but I’m sure it happens. Let’s say a journal promotes a $1,000 prize and publication. The entry fee is $15. The first prize figure merits a need for 67 entries to break even. That’s not considering the cost of publication and paying a judge . . . maybe advertising. Even in the world of the arts, budgets are a factor. But again, I read this as poor planning.
4. Crisis management.
You never know if something happened that sabotaged the event. Maybe the ads didn’t make it out in time. Maybe the judge got sick. A sponsor may have backed out. What if the online entry form was down for a week prohibiting entries?
So, you can look at deadline extensions as tricks by the sponsor or an opportunity for you. Who knows? You might be the just the type of writing they weren’t able to find before the original deadline.