After I was about 12, I noticed an advert in for a poetry contest that sounded fancy and spectacular, one thing like “Worldwide Library of Poetry.” I bled poetry at that age, so I crossed my fingers and despatched in a poem I’d been slaving over for weeks.
And, lo and behold, the folks behind the competition shortly wrote again to inform me my poem had been chosen as a winner!
I used to be speechless with honor. Of the 1000’s of poets who should have submitted to the competition — little question a lot of them adults a lot wiser and extra expert than me — my poem had been chosen to be featured in an unique, hardcover anthology! And honored on a something-karat-gold plaque!
After all, I needed to pay $50 if I wished to see my work in print within the anthology, and I needed to pay one other $100 if I wished the plaque. These have been the one “prizes.”
At the same time as a pre-teen, I sensed a rip-off.
Sadly, not a lot has modified in the case of corporations making an attempt to benefit from writers who need an opportunity at recognition and perhaps slightly bit of cash. Google the time period “writing contests,” and also you’ll provide you with roughly 128 million outcomes. It may be onerous for a author to know the place to start out in search of competitions, and learn how to inform in the event that they’re professional or not.
So we’ve finished the legwork for you.
Listed below are 31 respected, well-reviewed, free writing contests for poets, fiction writers, essayists and extra. Some professional contests do cost a small entry or “studying” payment, however usually a payment generally is a pink flag for a rip-off, so you could need to keep on with free contests — and there are actually sufficient of them.
Fiction and nonfiction writing contests
Able to share your novel or private essay with the world? Whether or not you’re a beginner or extra established author, you’re probably eligible for just a few of those contests.
1. L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Contest
No matter your emotions about L. Ron Hubbard’s work and philosophy, the prizes for this common contest are nothing to sneeze at. Each three months, winners earn $1,000, $750 and $500, or an extra annual grand prize value $5,000.
Submissions should be brief tales or novelettes (as much as 17,000 phrases) within the style of science fiction or fantasy, and new and beginner writers are welcome to use.
Deadlines: Quarterly on January 1, April 1, July 1 and October 1.
This boutique publishing agency gives a prize of a publishing contract to its contest winner. Submit a novel of 20,000 phrases or extra in any fiction style (no fanfic, brief tales or poetry).
Inkitt runs contests usually, so you’ll want to test again usually! And the judgments are partially crowd-sourced, with Inkitt group engagement and votes counting for 20% of your last rating — so it’s acquired a novel sort of egalitarianism to it.
Deadline: See particular person contest pages.
three. Drue Heinz Literature Prize
You’ll be able to win $15,000 and publication by the College of Pittsburgh Press with this prize, awarded for a set of brief fiction.
Chances are you’ll submit an unpublished manuscript of brief tales, two or extra novellas or a mixture of novellas and brief tales. Your whole phrase rely needs to be between 150 and 300 typed pages. It’s essential to even have already printed a novel or book-length work of fiction “with a good writer,” or no fewer than three brief tales or novellas in nationally-recognized journals.
Deadline: Annual submissions should be postmarked between Could 1 by June 30.
four. Poetry Basis Emily Dickinson First E book Award
When you’re an American poet who’s already celebrated their 40th birthday and has but to publish your first assortment, you’re in luck: you’re eligible to submit your manuscript to the Poetry Basis’s first e book contest, honoring Emily Dickinson — whose work, in fact, additionally went unpublished for much too lengthy.
The prize is obtainable on an “occasional” foundation, nevertheless it’s value checking again for updates: the winner receives $10,000 in addition to publication and promotion by Graywolf Press.
5. St. Francis Faculty Literary Prize
This biannual prize honors mid-career writers who’ve just lately printed their third, fourth or fifth work of fiction. The winner receives $50,000 and could also be invited to the St. Francis Faculty campus in Brooklyn, NY to ship a discuss their work or train a mini fiction workshop to St. Francis college students.
Deadline: Biennially; the deadline for prize submissions this 12 months is Could 15, 2019. (The shortlist might be introduced by August 15.)
6. Younger Lions Fiction Award
This $10,000 award acknowledges “younger authors,” which the foundations outline as any writer aged 35 or youthful. Submit any novel or brief story printed or scheduled to be printed within the calendar 12 months. Works should be written for adults; kids’s or YA items are ineligible.
Deadline: Yearly within the fall (most just lately in August or September). Deadline for submissions for 2019 awards was August 31, 2018. Deadline for 2020 awards TBA.
7. Graywolf Press Walt Whitman Award and Non/fiction Prizes
Among the finest-loved small presses within the inventive writing world, Graywolf Press host quite a lot of contests for each established and up-and-coming writers. The Walt Whitman Award is a $5,000 prize awarded, together with publication, to an American poet with a profitable first e book manuscript. She or he additionally receives an all-expenses-paid six-week residency on the Civitella Ranieri Heart in Umbria, Italy, and a visit to New York Metropolis to attend the American Poets Prizes ceremony.
Graywolf additionally gives smaller fiction and nonfiction prizes, with genres rotating by 12 months; 2018 was a nonfiction 12 months, so fiction is up in 2019. These awards embody a large advance — $12,000 in earlier years — in addition to publication with Graywolf.
Deadline: Contest is held yearly with rotating genres; the 2018 deadline (for nonfiction) has handed, and 2019 info has not but been printed.
Eight. The Jeff Sharlet Memorial Award for Veterans
Hosted by the celebrated Iowa Overview, the Jeff Sharlet Memorial Award is obtainable to U.S. navy veterans and active-duty members writing in any style about any topic. Manuscripts of as much as 20 pages might be accepted, and the first-prize winner will obtain $1,000 and publication within the Overview. A second place prize of $750 can be obtainable, in addition to three runner-up prizes of $500 every.
Deadline: Biennially. The following contest might be held in 2020, and submissions might be learn between Could 1 and Could 31.
9. New Voices Award
Introduced by Lee & Low Books, an award-winning kids’s e book writer, this award is given for a beforehand unpublished kids’s image e book manuscript (of not more than 1,500 phrases) written by a author of shade.
The winner receives $2,000 money and a normal publication contract, and an extra Honor Award winner will obtain a money prize of $1,000. Chances are you’ll submit as much as two manuscripts.
Deadline: Submissions should be postmarked between April 1, 2019, and August 31, 2019.
10. Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence
This contest goals to supply visibility for rising African American fiction writers and to allow them to deal with their writing by awarding a $10,000 money prize. Eligible authors ought to submit a piece of fiction, corresponding to a novel or brief story assortment, printed within the calendar 12 months. (Galleys for publication throughout the 12 months are additionally accepted.)
Deadline: The competition runs yearly, however this 12 months’s deadline is August 15, 2019.
11. PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction
Honoring the very best work of fiction printed by an American writer in a single calendar 12 months, this award has been given to the likes of John Updike, Philip Roth and Ann Patchett. Novels, novellas, and collections of brief tales are all eligible.
The winner receives a hefty money prize — as much as $15,000 previously — and an invite to learn on the award ceremony in Washington, DC. Plus, there are not any submission charges or software kinds to cope with; simply mail 4 copies of your e book (or certain proofs) to the group to be thought-about.
Deadline: Yearly on October 31 for books printed that calendar 12 months.
12. PEN/Robert J. Dau Brief Story Prize for Rising Writers
This contest is slightly completely different, as a result of it requires you to have already got printed a brief story in a literary journal or cultural web site. However when you’ve made your debut (however gone no additional), you could be eligible for the beneficiant money prize of $2,000, which is yearly awarded to 12 rising writers, whose works are then printed collectively in an anthology.
Brief tales of as much as 12,000 phrases are eligible and should be printed within the calendar 12 months previous the 12 months during which the award is given.
Deadline: Contest is open yearly between June and November.
13. Anisfield-Wolf E book Awards
Fiction and nonfiction writers who’ve just lately printed a e book that “contribute[s] to our understanding of racism and our appreciation of cultural variety” are eligible for this award, which gives $10,000 money as nicely media and publicity alternatives.
Submissions should be printed within the prior 12 months (so books printed in 2019 are eligible for the 2020 award).
Deadline: Annual submission window is September 1 by December 31.
14. Marfield Prize (a.ok.a. Nationwide Award for Arts Writing)
Introduced by the Arts Membership of Washington, this award seeks to honor nonfiction books that cope with the “visible, literary, media, or performing arts.” The prize is $10,000 and could also be awarded to works of criticism, artwork historical past, memoirs and biographies, and essays.
Deadline: Yearly within the final quarter of the 12 months; the 2019 deadline has not but been introduced. (When you have questions, attain out to to Briones, Chair of the Marfield Prize 2018, at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
15. W.Y. Boyd Literary Award for Excellence in Navy Fiction
When you’re a struggle buff, this competitors is for you. It awards $5,000 — and a 24-karat-gold-framed quotation of feat — the very best piece of fiction set throughout a interval when the U.S. was at struggle (struggle could both be the principle plot of the piece or just present the setting). Submissions could also be grownup or YA novels.
Deadline: Yearly on December 1.
16. Buddies of American Writers Chicago Awards
FAW presents two annual awards: an Grownup Literature Award for literary fiction or nonfiction, and a Juvenile Literature Award for a kids’s/YA e book.
Authors should reside within the state of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Nebraska, Ohio, South Dakota or Wisconsin — or they need to set their e book in a kind of areas. Prize quantities differ from 12 months to 12 months, however all winners are celebrated on the group’s Could luncheon.
Deadline: Yearly on the finish of the 12 months; 2019 deadline has not but been introduced.
17. Hektoen Grand Prix Essay Contest
Hektoen Worldwide, an internet journal devoted to medical humanities, gives two prizes yearly for essays of not more than 1,600 phrases in two classes: $three,000 is awarded to the winner and $800 to the primary runner-up. Eligible matters are broad as long as they’ve a relation to drugs, and should embody artwork, historical past, literature, training and extra.
Deadline: Yearly; April 15, 2019 is essentially the most present deadline.
18. Biopage Mini-Essay Writing Contest
There’s no denying it: social media is a big a part of our 21st-century lives. It’s straightforward to get used to restrict our communications to 140-character, emoji-strewn snippets, which is why this advertising agency is internet hosting an essay writing contest to “remind folks of the advantages of writing.”
Essays of as much as 5,000 characters (roughly 1,000 phrases) might be accepted, and might sort out nearly any matter you need. The grand prize winner will obtain $1,000, and three runners-up might be awarded $200 every.
The competition is free to enter, however you’ll must register for a Biopage account to be eligible.
Deadline: June 30, 2019
19. Minotaur Books / Thriller Writers of America First Crime Novel Competitors
Writers 18 and older who’ve by no means had a novel printed (in any style) are eligible for this prize, awarded for an unique book-length manuscript the place “homicide or one other severe crime or crimes is on the coronary heart of the story.” The winner receives a publication contract with Minotaur Books and an advance of $10,000 in opposition to future royalties.
Deadline: Yearly within the final quarter of the 12 months. The deadline for 2019 awards was January 11; the deadline for 2020 awards has not but been introduced.
20. ServiceScape Brief Story Award
ServiceScape, a platform matching freelance writers, editors, and graphic designers with shoppers (i.e., an awesome place to search for paid writing work!) gives a yearly Brief Story Award of $1,000 to a profitable fiction or non-fiction work of 5,000 phrases or fewer. The winner can even have their story featured on the ServiceScape weblog, which sees 1000’s of readers every month.
Deadline: November 29, 2019.
21. Stowe Prize
This biennial prize of $10,000 honors an American writer whose work has had an affect on a crucial social justice concern (as did Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin).
Deadline: Biennially; though there might be no winner for 2019, nominations for the 2020 prize might be accepted “very quickly.”
22. The Diana Woods Memorial Award in Artistic Non-Fiction
Artistic nonfiction essays of not more than 5,000 phrases on any topic are eligible for consideration for this award, whose winner receives $250 and publication in Lunch Ticket, the literary and artwork journal produced by the MFA group of Antioch College Los Angeles.
Works should not have been printed elsewhere. Award winners are required to submit a 100-word biography, current photograph and a brief notice thanking the Woods household for his or her generosity and help.
Deadlines: Biannual studying intervals are the month of February for the Summer season/Fall concern and the month of August for the Winter/Spring concern.
23. The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms Essay Contest
Every year, this Canadian group gives three prizes, starting from $500 to $1,500, to the essay with essentially the most considerate, well-reasoned arguments round a selected human-rights theme. (For instance, 2018’s immediate was, “Ought to Canadians be required by legislation to make use of gender-neutral pronouns? Why or why not?”
The competition is open to Canadian school and college college students, and essays needs to be 2,500 phrases or much less in size.
Deadline: Yearly; 2018’s deadline was October 31st.
24. Write the World
For younger writers ages 13-18, these cool contests additionally function mini workshops. Recognizing that “a primary draft isn’t excellent,” submissions truly obtain peer evaluation by authors, writing lecturers and different specialists and writers are given the possibility to revise their items based mostly on this suggestions earlier than submitting them for last prize consideration.
Contests differ every month, however there’s a $100 prize for the winner and $50 for the runner-up (plus $50 for the very best peer-reviewer). All three are featured on Write the World’s weblog alongside feedback from a visitor decide. And since every month’s immediate is from a special style, growing writers get an opportunity to check out completely different kinds.
Caught with author’s block and in search of a strategy to jumpstart your escape? Prose gives weekly challenges meant to spark your creativity; many are only for enjoyable, however search for the weekly numbered challenges posted by Prose (moderately than group members or sponsors) for an opportunity to win cash.
Prizes are sometimes between $100 – $200 and phrase counts are low — some as little as underneath 150, some as excessive as 500, however all say “high quality beats amount.” So even when all you get from the immediate is an opportunity to flex your mind, it’s not a foul deal.
Interested in alternatives for poets? Your stanzas — rhyming or not — might be value a good sum of money in these competitions.
26. Free Spirit Publishing African American Voices in Youngsters’s Literature ContestTony Hillerman Prize
Open to writers of African American heritage who’re over the age of 18 and Minnesota residents, this contest, hosted by Free Spirit Publishing, seeks to fill the necessity for African American illustration in kids’s and younger grownup books. Unique board and film books for youngsters aged Zero-Eight are eligible, supplied they characteristic modern African American characters and tradition and deal with character growth, self-worth, group, and different facets of constructive childhood growth.
Three prizes, starting from $250 to $1,000, might be awarded, and the primary place winner might be “significantly thought-about” for publication, although it’s not assured.
Deadline: June 30, 2019
27. James Laughlin Award
When you’re already a printed poet, that is the award for you; it’s given for a second e book of poetry as a result of come out within the forthcoming 12 months. The winner receives $5,000 and an all-expenses-paid week-long residency at The Betsy Resort in Miami Seaside, Florida. As well as, copies of her e book are distributed to roughly 1,000 members of the Academy of American Poets.
Deadline: Annual submission window is January 1 by Could 15.
28. African Poetry E book Fund Prizes
The APBF awards three prizes yearly for African Poetry. The Glenna Luschei Prize for Afican Poetry offers $1,000 for a e book of unique African poetry printed within the prior 12 months.
The Sillerman First E book Prize for African Poets offers $1,000 and a publication contract for a book-length assortment of poetry by an as-yet-unpublished African writer.
The Brunel College African Poetry Prize is a brand new prize that grants £three,000 to a poet who was born in Africa, is a nationwide of an African nation or has African dad and mom, who has not but had a full-length e book of poetry printed. (U.S. residents qualify.) To submit, you’ll want 10 poems.
Deadlines: See particular person prize pages.
29. Tufts Poetry Awards
Claremont Graduate College presents two awards annually to poets they deem to be “excellent.” The Kate Tufts Poetry Award grants $10,000 for a printed first e book of poetry that reveals promise.
The Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award grants a mammoth $100,000 for a printed e book of poetry by a longtime or mid-career poet.
Deadline: Books printed between July of the earlier 12 months and June 30 of the present 12 months are eligible for the next 12 months’s prize. For instance, books printed between July 1, 2018 and June 30, 2019 might be eligible for the 2020 award; an entry type should be accomplished and submitted by no later than July 1, 2019.
30. The Stressed Books Prize For New Immigrant Writing
First-generation immigrants have an opportunity to win $10,000 and publication by Stressed Books for telling their tales (actual or imagined). The competition alternates yearly between fiction (novel or brief story assortment) and nonfiction (memoir, essay assortment, narrative nonfiction). In 2019, it can go to a piece of nonfiction of at the least 25,000 phrases; 2020 might be nonfiction.
Deadline: Yearly; submissions for the 2019 Prize in Nonfiction might be accepted from September 1, 2018 till March 31, 2019.
Writing contests with a number of classes
Some contests settle for submissions in a number of classes, so you could possibly submit a novella in addition to a poem or different work.
31. Author’s Digest Annual Writing Competitors
(Editor’s notice: We have been so excited to incorporate this competitors that we missed its entry charges. We’ll depart it within the put up for these fascinated by submitting their work, however please notice that this contest just isn’t free.)
One of many longest-running writing competitions — it’s now in its 88th 12 months — this contest spotlights up and coming writers in a lot of classes, together with Memoirs/Private Essay, Print or On-line Article and Style Brief Story.
The Grand Prize winner will get $5,000, a characteristic in Author’s Digest journal, a paid journey to a writing convention and extra. Runners-up earn prizes in first by tenth locations.
Deadline: Yearly; (The deadline for 2019 was Could sixth.)
The place to search out extra professional, free writing contests
On the lookout for extra alternatives to submit your work to writing contests? Listed below are just a few nice websites to regulate.
A variety of the contests discovered on our record got here extremely really useful by this web site, which compiles a few of the finest free literary contests on the market. Together with a variety of really useful contests for writers of all stripes, Profitable Writers additionally lists some contests and providers to keep away from — which is simply as helpful!
Additionally they supply a handful of contests themselves, together with the Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest (which sounds pleasant).
Poets & Writers
One other improbable supply for professional writing contests we consulted when compiling this record, Poets & Writers vets competitions, contests, awards and grants to verify they’re following professional practices and insurance policies. It’s value testing usually because it options each annual and one-time contests.
This put up accommodates affiliate hyperlinks. Meaning if you are going to buy by our hyperlinks, you’re supporting The Write Life — and we thanks for that!
This put up was up to date in March 2019 so it’s extra helpful and related for our readers! It was initially written by Kelly Gurnett and up to date by The Write Life staff.