Writing competitions are a great way for writers, especially those who are new and/or unpublished, to get your work seen. The contests address all types of creative writing—adult and young adult fiction, poetry, short story, essay. They can inspire you and give you that incentive you may need to get those fingers clacking on the keyboard. Some contests provide feedback, you may make contact with editors and agents, and you might even win—either a cash prize, publication, or both!
There’s a slew of contests out there. Here are some links and a few highlights from the lists. Many require a fee, but I’ve also provided a list of those that are free to enter. Most are open now, so get inspired, write, enter, and good luck!
A Comprehensive List from NewsPages.com
News Pages Classifieds provides a long list of writing contests, covering all genres.
Press53 is offering an award for short story collections, often a difficult genre to get published. The prize is nice, too—publication, a $1,000 cash advance, travel expenses and lodging for a special reading and book signing party in North Carolina, attendance to the 2014 Press 53/Prime Number Magazine Gathering of Writers, and ten copies of the book.
Here’s something different from The Digital Americana: A flash fiction contest whose winner will have his or her story turned into a short literary film. For details click here and scroll to 501 Word Writing Contest.
Four organizations—Benetech Global Literacy, the National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD), the Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST) and Orca Book Publishing—are sponsoring a contest for emerging and existing writers to submit “original high-interest fiction and non-fiction reading material for young adults aged 13+ who struggle with reading.” Eleven cash prizes will be awarded.
FreelanceWriting.com’s Contest List
This list has many contests for poets.
A biggie on this list is the PEN/The Bellwether Prize for fiction. Funded by author Barbara Kingsolver, the submissions must address “issues of social justice and the impact of culture and politics on human relationships.” The winner receives $25,000 and a publishing contract with Algonquin Books. The contest is open to writers who have an unpublished novel manuscript and have had at least four publications (including short stories or essays).
Writers Digest sponsors many writing contests throughout the year, including poetry, fiction, science fiction, and self-published book awards. Most are closed now (the Short Short Story competition is still open), but check the website for submission dates.
WritersViews.com kindly provides a list of writing contests that require no entry fee.
The list includes competitions from all over the world, some in very specific genres such as love story, satirist comedy, screenplays written by teens, and even an “Ocean Dream Cruise Liner Writing Contest.” To get all the contest details, you must register on the WritersViews website, which is free.
Miss Snark’s First Victim
“Authoress,” who anonymously runs the Miss Snark’s First Victim blog, is amazing in the time and support she provides the writing community with her contests for writers of adult, young adult, and middle-grade fiction. Every month she holds a “Secret Agent” contest where submissions are randomly chosen to participate via bot. The entries are then read and critiqued by both the blog community and the secret agent. The agent’s identity is revealed at the end of the contest, as well as his or her announcement of which manuscripts should be submitted to the agency.
At the end of each year, the “Bakers Dozen” contest is held (now closed) where 13 agents “bid” to read partial-to-full manuscripts based on the 250-word submissions. For this contest, the submissions are chosen by Authoress and author Jodi Meadows from hundreds of contest hopefuls.