"The absolute most important advice I can give you is this: read and understand the fine print.
Know what you're entering. Know what happens to your work in the event you win (or even/especially if you don't win). Make sure you're completely comfortable with it.
For instance, in the event you win the Amazon Breakthrough contest, are you comfortable with a $15,000 advance and a completely non-negotiable publishing contract? (The fine print says you can't negotiate). Do you want to try for a better deal by going through the traditional publishing route and finding an agent?
There's no correct answer here: it's up to you. But make sure a) you know what happens when you enter/win and b) you can live with it. And think very long and very hard about anything that could tie up the rights to your work. And when in doubt: don't enter."
Read the rest here.