Once 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 rapidly wrote again to inform me my poem had been chosen as a winner!
I used to be speechless with honor. Of the hundreds of poets who should have submitted to the competition — little question lots 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.”
Whilst a pre-teen, I sensed a rip-off.
Sadly, not a lot has modified with regards to firms making an attempt to reap the benefits of writers who need an opportunity at recognition and possibly a bit of bit of cash. Google the time period “writing contests,” and also you’ll provide you with roughly 128 million outcomes. It may be laborious for a author to know the place to begin on the lookout for competitions, and find out how to inform in the event that they’re official or not.
So we’ve completed the legwork for you.
Listed here are 31 respected, well-reviewed, free writing contests for poets, fiction writers, essayists and extra. Some official contests do cost a small entry or “studying” payment, however usually a payment generally is a purple flag for a rip-off, so you might wish to stick with free contests — and there are definitely 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 seemingly eligible for a couple of 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 price $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 affords 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 often, so be sure you verify again usually! And the judgments are partially crowd-sourced, with Inkitt neighborhood engagement and votes counting for 20% of your remaining rating — so it’s acquired a novel form of egalitarianism to it.
Deadline: See particular person contest pages.
three. Drue Heinz Literature Prize
You may win $15,000 and publication by the College of Pittsburgh Press with this prize, awarded for a set of brief fiction.
It’s possible you’ll submit an unpublished manuscript of brief tales, two or extra novellas or a mixture of novellas and brief tales. Your complete phrase depend ought to be between 150 and 300 typed pages. You need 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 Might 1 via June 30.
four. Poetry Basis Emily Dickinson First E-book Award
Should 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, after all, additionally went unpublished for much too lengthy.
The prize is obtainable on an “occasional” foundation, but it surely’s price checking again for updates: the winner receives $10,000 in addition to publication and promotion by Graywolf Press.
5. St. Francis School Literary Prize
This biannual prize honors mid-career writers who’ve lately printed their third, fourth or fifth work of fiction. The winner receives $50,000 and could also be invited to the St. Francis School 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 yr is Might 15, 2019. (The shortlist will probably be introduced by August 15.)
6. Younger Lions Fiction Award
This $10,000 award acknowledges “younger authors,” which the principles outline as any creator aged 35 or youthful. Submit any novel or brief story printed or scheduled to be printed within the calendar yr. Works should be written for adults; youngsters’s or YA items are ineligible.
Deadline: Yearly within the fall (most 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 best-loved small presses within the artistic writing world, Graywolf Press host a wide range 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 successful first e-book manuscript. She or he additionally receives an all-expenses-paid six-week residency on the Civitella Ranieri Middle in Umbria, Italy, and a visit to New York Metropolis to attend the American Poets Prizes ceremony.
Graywolf additionally affords smaller fiction and nonfiction prizes, with genres rotating by yr; 2018 was a nonfiction yr, so fiction is up in 2019. These awards embrace 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 distinguished Iowa Evaluation, the Jeff Sharlet Memorial Award is obtainable to U.S. army veterans and active-duty members writing in any style about any topic. Manuscripts of as much as 20 pages will probably be accepted, and the first-prize winner will obtain $1,000 and publication within the Evaluation. A second place prize of $750 can also be out there, in addition to three runner-up prizes of $500 every.
Deadline: Biennially. The following contest will probably be held in 2020, and submissions will probably be learn between Might 1 and Might 31.
9. New Voices Award
Offered by Lee & Low Books, an award-winning youngsters’s e-book writer, this award is given for a beforehand unpublished youngsters’s image e-book manuscript (of not more than 1,500 phrases) written by a author of coloration.
The winner receives $2,000 money and an ordinary publication contract, and an extra Honor Award winner will obtain a money prize of $1,000. It’s possible 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 give attention to their writing by awarding a $10,000 money prize. Eligible authors ought to submit a piece of fiction, equivalent to a novel or brief story assortment, printed within the calendar yr. (Galleys for publication throughout the yr are additionally accepted.)
Deadline: The competition runs yearly, however this yr’s deadline is August 15, 2019.
11. PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction
Honoring the very best work of fiction printed by an American creator in a single calendar yr, 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 up to now — and an invite to learn on the award ceremony in Washington, DC. Plus, there are not any submission charges or utility kinds to cope with; simply mail 4 copies of your e-book (or certain proofs) to the group to be thought of.
Deadline: Yearly on October 31 for books printed that calendar yr.
12. PEN/Robert J. Dau Brief Story Prize for Rising Writers
This contest is a bit of 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 in the event you’ve made your debut (however gone no additional), you might 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 yr previous the yr by 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 lately printed a e-book that “contribute[s] to our understanding of racism and our appreciation of cultural range” are eligible for this award, which affords $10,000 money as nicely media and publicity alternatives.
Submissions should be printed within the prior yr (so books printed in 2019 are eligible for the 2020 award).
Deadline: Annual submission window is September 1 via December 31.
14. Marfield Prize (a.ok.a. Nationwide Award for Arts Writing)
Offered 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 yr; the 2019 deadline has not but been introduced. (When you’ve got questions, attain out to to Briones, Chair of the Marfield Prize 2018, at email@example.com.)
15. W.Y. Boyd Literary Award for Excellence in Navy Fiction
Should you’re a battle buff, this competitors is for you. It awards $5,000 — and a 24-karat-gold-framed quotation of accomplishment — the very best piece of fiction set throughout a interval when the U.S. was at battle (battle might 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 youngsters’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 have to set their e-book in a type of areas. Prize quantities fluctuate from yr to yr, however all winners are celebrated on the group’s Might luncheon.
Deadline: Yearly on the finish of the yr; 2019 deadline has not but been introduced.
17. Hektoen Grand Prix Essay Contest
Hektoen Worldwide, a web based journal devoted to medical humanities, affords 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 subjects are broad as long as they’ve a relation to medication, and will embrace artwork, historical past, literature, schooling 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 large 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) will probably be accepted, and may deal with nearly any subject you need. The grand prize winner will obtain $1,000, and three runners-up will probably 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 authentic book-length manuscript the place “homicide or one other critical 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 yr. 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 important place to search for paid writing work!) affords a yearly Brief Story Award of $1,000 to a successful 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 hundreds of readers every month.
Deadline: November 29, 2019.
21. Stowe Prize
This biennial prize of $10,000 honors an American creator whose work has had an influence on a crucial social justice subject (as did Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin).
Deadline: Biennially; though there will probably be no winner for 2019, nominations for the 2020 prize will probably 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 neighborhood 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 word 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 subject and the month of August for the Winter/Spring subject.
23. The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms Essay Contest
Annually, this Canadian group affords three prizes, starting from $500 to $1,500, to the essay with essentially the most considerate, well-reasoned arguments round a particular human-rights theme. (For instance, 2018’s immediate was, “Ought to Canadians be required by regulation to make use of gender-neutral pronouns? Why or why not?”
The competition is open to Canadian faculty and college college students, and essays ought 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 is rarely excellent,” submissions really obtain peer assessment by authors, writing academics and different consultants and writers are given the possibility to revise their items primarily based on this suggestions earlier than submitting them for remaining prize consideration.
Contests fluctuate 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 distinct style, creating writers get an opportunity to check out completely different kinds.
Caught with author’s block and on the lookout for a option to jumpstart your escape? Prose affords weekly challenges meant to spark your creativity; many are only for enjoyable, however search for the weekly numbered challenges posted by Prose (slightly than neighborhood members or sponsors) for an opportunity to win cash.
Prizes are usually 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 — could possibly be price a good amount of cash 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 youngsters’s and younger grownup books. Authentic board and movie books for youngsters aged Zero-Eight are eligible, offered they characteristic modern African American characters and tradition and give attention to character improvement, self worth, neighborhood, and different elements of constructive childhood improvement.
Three prizes, starting from $250 to $1,000, will probably be awarded, and the primary place winner will probably be “critically thought of” for publication, although it’s not assured.
Deadline: June 30, 2019
27. James Laughlin Award
Should you’re already a broadcast poet, that is the award for you; it’s given for a second e-book of poetry on account of come out within the forthcoming yr. The winner receives $5,000 and an all-expenses-paid week-long residency at The Betsy Lodge in Miami Seashore, 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 via Might 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 authentic African poetry printed within the prior yr.
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 creator.
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 every year to poets they deem to be “excellent.” The Kate Tufts Poetry Award grants $10,000 for a broadcast first e-book of poetry that exhibits promise.
The Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award grants a mammoth $100,000 for a broadcast e-book of poetry by a longtime or mid-career poet.
Deadline: Books printed between July of the earlier yr and June 30 of the present yr are eligible for the next yr’s prize. For instance, books printed between July 1, 2018 and June 30, 2019 will probably 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 is going to go to a piece of nonfiction of no less than 25,000 phrases; 2020 will probably be nonfiction.
Deadline: Yearly; submissions for the 2019 Prize in Nonfiction will probably 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 can submit a novella in addition to a poem or different work.
31. Author’s Digest Annual Writing Competitors
(Editor’s word: We have been so excited to incorporate this competitors that we neglected its entry charges. We’ll go away it within the submit for these interested by submitting their work, however please word that this contest isn’t free.)
One of many longest-running writing competitions — it’s now in its 88th yr — this contest spotlights up and coming writers in numerous 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 via tenth locations.
Deadline: Yearly; (The deadline for 2019 was Might sixth.)
The place to seek out extra official, free writing contests
On the lookout for extra alternatives to submit your work to writing contests? Listed here are a couple of nice websites to regulate.
Quite a lot of the contests discovered on our record got here extremely really helpful by this website, which compiles among the greatest free literary contests on the market. Together with a variety of really helpful contests for writers of all stripes, Successful Writers additionally lists some contests and providers to keep away from — which is simply as helpful!
Additionally they provide a handful of contests themselves, together with the Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest (which sounds pleasant).
Poets & Writers
One other unbelievable supply for official writing contests we consulted when compiling this record, Poets & Writers vets competitions, contests, awards and grants to ensure they’re following official practices and insurance policies. It’s price testing often because it options each annual and one-time contests.
This submit comprises affiliate hyperlinks. Which means if you buy via our hyperlinks, you’re supporting The Write Life — and we thanks for that!
This submit 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 workforce.