Dear Esteemed Holder of All Wisdom, My brain is cramping and in dire need of your assistance. I have two short, less than 1k word count, stories in need of homes. One, simple and reportedly compelling and the other less than 0.5k words and spiritually inspiring. Neither belong with the markets that I have studied, which is genre fiction. I do not want to pander my stories to homes just on a first seen, first submitted basis. I would like to aim high and work my way down the ladder until they are properly placed. I am sure if I search harder I will find a comprehensive listing of fiction markets taking flash length. In the mean time, I have stumbled across the Writers Digest Writing Competition which bills an easy $15 for the first manuscript (4k word count max) and $10 for any other entries (it's cheaper to submit poetry at $10 and $5 a pop). Odds of winning aside, is the value of the query letter padding equal to or above the cost of participation should I win? Contest prize money aside (because some contests do not offer much as a reward), is standard publication better than contest winning in the long term writing career? I await mental succor from your response,
Even if you win, including that in a query letter is akin to telling an agent you won Miss Snark's 25 word contest to finish the news story. Cute, fun, and useless in terms of demonstrating your ability to write a full length novel.
Flash fiction is a gimmick. If you want to write a novel, do it. If you don't, that's ok too.
And do the math on those contests: 1000 entries at 15 bucks a pop? Nice profit margin especially if the prize is less than 10% of the haul.