I know, I promised to explain... so here goes.
Entering contests (for me) is as much about getting feedback and editor/agent exposure as winning a prize.
I enter contests offered by various chapters of the Romance Writers of America. There are tons to choose from, so I look for the ones that can give me something back, win or lose.
The contests I've entered, have both published and unpublished writers to judge the first round, then an agent or editor who will make the final decision.
-If I don't make the finals, I still receive a score sheet and possible edit/critique comments and/or suggestions.
-If my work makes the cut, it will be read by an agent or editor, and THAT is the goal most of us seek, for we can't sell if they don't read.
Last year, I entered TOUCH ME in four contests and scored one win! The feedback was invaluable, especially the critical comments from the agent that gave me the win.
And what was the actual prize? ha ha, the return of the entry fee. (most contests run at about $25.00 - 40.00)