When I was about 12, I saw an ad in a magazine for a poetry contest that sounded fancy and impressive, something like “International Library of Poetry.” I bled poetry at that age, so I crossed my fingers and sent in a poem I’d been slaving over for weeks.
And, lo and behold, the people behind the contest quickly wrote back to tell me my poem had been selected as a winner!
I was speechless with honor. Of the thousands of poets who must have submitted to the contest — no doubt many of them adults much wiser and more skilled than me — my poem had been chosen to be featured in an exclusive, hardcover anthology! And honored on a something-karat-gold plaque!
Of course, I had to pay $50 if I wanted to see my work in print in the anthology, and I had to pay another $100 if I wanted the plaque. Those were the only “prizes.”
Even as a pre-teen, I sensed a scam.
Sadly, not much has changed when it comes to companies trying to take advantage of writers who want a chance at recognition and maybe a little bit of money. Google the term “writing contests,” and you’ll come up with approximately 8 million results. It can be hard for a writer to know where to start looking for competitions, and how to tell if they’re legitimate or not.
So I’ve done the legwork for you.
Here are 31 reputable, well-reviewed, free writing contests for poets, fiction writers, essayists and more.Some legitimate contests do charge a small entry or “reading” fee, but often a fee can be a red flag for a scam, so you may want to stick to free contests — and there are certainly enough of them.
Fiction and nonfiction writing contests
Ready to share your novel or personal essay with the world? Whether you’re a newbie or more established writer, you’re likely eligible for a few of these contests.
1. L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Contest
Whatever your feelings about L. Ron Hubbard’s work and philosophy, the prizes for this regular contest are nothing to sneeze at. Every three months, winners earn $1,000, $750 and $500, or an additional annual grand prize worth $5,000.
Submissions must be short stories or novelettes (up to 17,000 words) in the genre of science fiction or fantasy, and new and amateur writers are welcome to apply.
Deadlines: Quarterly on January 1, April 1, July 1 and October 1.
2. Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize
Awarded to “the most promising and innovative literary nonfiction project by a writer not yet established in the genre,” this prize provides a $12,000 advance and publication by Graywolf Press.
If you live in the U.S. and have published at least one book (in any genre), you’re eligible to submit a current manuscript in progress for consideration. The judges look for winners who push the boundaries of traditional literary nonfiction.
Deadline: Contest is every other year, with the last one running in 2016. The 2018 deadline has not been announced.
3. Drue Heinz Literature Prize
You can win $15,000 and publication by the University of Pittsburgh Press with this prize, awarded for a collection of short fiction.
You may submit an unpublished manuscript of short stories, two or more novellas or a combination of novellas and short stories. Your total word count should be between 150 and 300 typed pages.
Deadline: Annual submission window is May 1 through June 30.
4. Tony Hillerman Prize
Presented by St. Martin’s Press and WORDHARVEST, this prize awards the best first mystery novel set in the Southwest with $10,000 and publication by St. Martin’s Press.
It’s open to professional or non-professional writers who have not yet had a mystery published, and there are specific guidelines for the structure of your story: “Murder or another serious crime or crimes must be at the heart of the story, with emphasis on the solution rather than the details of the crime.”
5. St. Francis College Literary Prize
This biannual prize honors mid-career writers who have recently published their third, fourth or fifth work of fiction. The winner receives $50,000 but must be able to appear at St. Francis College in Brooklyn, NY to deliver a talk on their work and teach a mini-workshop in fiction to St. Francis students.
Deadline: Biannually; the deadline for work published between June 2015 and May 2017 is May 15, 2017.
6. Young Lions Fiction Award
This $10,000 award recognizes “young authors,” which the rules define as any author aged 35 or younger. Submit any novel or short story published or scheduled to be published in the calendar year. Works must be written for adults; children’s or YA pieces are ineligible.
Deadline: Annually in the fall (most recently in August or September). 2017 deadline not yet announced.
This boutique publishing firm offers a full-fledged publishing deal to its contest winner. Submit a novel of 20,000 words or more in any fiction genre (no fanfic, short stories or poetry) and if it’s selected, Inkitt will provide you with professional editing, a cover design, and 25 percent royalties. They also have a strategy to get you into the Amazon Top 100. (Not too shabby.)
Inkitt runs contests regularly, so be sure to check back often!
Deadline: See individual contest pages.
8.Real Simple’s Life Lessons Essay Contest
Have you ever had a “eureka” moment? If you have, and you can write a compelling personal essay about it in no more than 1,500 words, you may be able to win $3,000 in Real Simple’s annual essay contest.
Deadline: Annually; 2017 deadline has not yet been announced.
9. New Voices Award
Presented by Lee & Low Books, an award-winning children’s book publisher, this award is given for a previously unpublished children’s picture book manuscript (of no more than 1,500 words) written by a writer of color.
The winner receives $1,000 cash and a standard publication contract. You may submit up to two manuscripts.
Deadline: Submissions must be postmarked by September 30 each year.
10. Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence
This contest aims to provide visibility for emerging African American fiction writers and to enable them to focus on their writing by awarding a $10,000 cash prize. Eligible authors should submit a work of fiction, such as a novel or short story collection, published in the calendar year.
Deadline: Annually; 2017 deadline has not yet been announced.
11. PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction
Honoring the best work of fiction published by an American author in a single calendar year, this award has been given to the likes of John Updike, Philip Roth and Ann Patchett.
The winner receives $15,000 and an invitation to read at the award ceremony in Washington, DC. Four finalists also each receive a $5,000 award.
Deadline: Annually on October 31 for books published that calendar year.
12. Brooklyn Non-Fiction Prize
Presented by the Brooklyn Film & Arts Festival, this annual prize awards $500 cash for “the best Brooklyn-focused non-fiction essay which is set in Brooklyn and is about Brooklyn and/or Brooklyn people/characters.” (So it’s Brooklyn-centric, if you haven’t picked up on that yet.)
Submissions should be four to 10 pages (up to 2,500 words), and five authors will be chosen to read and discuss their submissions at the annual December event.
Deadline: Annually in mid-November.
13. Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards
Fiction and nonfiction writers who have recently published a book that “contributes to our understanding of racism and our appreciation of the rich diversity of human cultures” are eligible for this award, which offers $10,000 cash as well media and publicity opportunities.
Submissions must be published in the prior year (so books published in 2016 are eligible for the 2017 award).
Deadline: Annual submission window is September 1 through December 31.
14. Marfield Prize (a.k.a. National Award for Arts Writing)
Presented by the Arts Club of Washington, this award seeks to honor nonfiction books that deal with “any artistic discipline (visual, literary, performing, or media arts, as well as cross-disciplinary works).” This may include criticism, art history, memoirs and biographies, and essays.
Deadline: Annually in the last quarter of the year; the 2017 deadline has not yet been announced.
15. W.Y. Boyd Literary Award for Excellence in Military Fiction
If you’re a war buff, this competition is for you. It awards $5,000 to the best piece of fiction set during a period when the U.S. was at war (war may either be the main plot of the piece or simply provide the setting). Submissions may be adult or YA novels.
Deadline: Annually on December 1.
16. Friends of American Writers Chicago Awards
FAW presents two annual awards: an Adult Literature Award for literary fiction or nonfiction, and a Juvenile Literature Award for a children’s/YA book.
Authors must reside in the state of Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Nebraska, Ohio, South Dakota or Wisconsin — or they must set their book in one of those locations. Prize amounts vary from year to year but are typically between $500 and $2,000.
Deadline: Annually at the end of the year; 2017 deadline has not yet been announced.
17. Hektoen Grand Prix Essay Contest
Hektoen International, an online journal dedicated to medical humanities, offers two prizes annually for essays of no more than 1,600 words in two categories.
The Grand Prize of $1,200 is given for an essay suited for their Famous Hospitals section, while a Silver Prize of $1,000 is given to the best essay suited for the sections of Art Flashes, Literary Vignettes, Moments in History or Physicians of Note.
Deadline: Annually; 2017 has passed and 2018 deadline is not yet announced.
18. Nelson Algren Short Story Award
Presented by the Chicago Tribune, this award presents $3,500 to one grand prize winner, $1,000 to four finalists and $500 to five runners-up for a short fiction story of less than 8,000 words.
You may submit up to two short stories, but note that your name must not appear anywhere on your submission as the process is anonymous.
Deadline: Annually; 2017 has passed and 2018 deadline is not yet announced.
19. Minotaur Books / Mystery Writers of America First Crime Novel Competition
Writers 18 and older who have never had a novel published (in any genre) are eligible for this prize, awarded for an original book-length manuscript where “murder or another serious crime or crimes is at the heart of the story.” The winner receives a publication contract with Minotaur Books and an advance of $10,000 against future royalties.
Deadline: Annually in the last quarter of the year. The deadline for 2017 awards has passed; the deadline for 2018 awards has not yet been announced.
20. FutureScapes Writing Contest
Want to change the world? Then listen up.
FutureScapes is looking for concrete, substantive pieces that “can provide a roadmap for cities, states, and nations to follow.” If you just want to write the next Hunger Games, this isn’t the contest for you, but if you’re inspired by politics and civic issues, you’ve found the right place. (Case in point: the inaugural theme, “Empowerment Cities,” features a quote from Alexis de Tocqueville.) First place wins $2,000; second place $1,000; and four runners-up will get $500 each. Oh, and did we mention publication in an anthology that will be “distributed to mayors, governors and members of the U.S. Congress”?
Deadline: Annually; deadline for 2017 is TBD.
21. Stowe Prize
This biennial prize of $10,000 honors an American author whose work has had an impact on a critical social justice issue (as did Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin).
In addition to submitting a copy of your book or written work, you must also complete a 250-word statement that describes the tangible impact your piece has made in the world and outlining any social justice work you perform outside of your writing.
Deadline: Biennially in odd-numbered years. The deadline for 2017 awards has passed, and the deadline for 2019 have not yet been announced.
22. The Diana Woods Memorial Award in Creative Non-Fiction
Creative nonfiction essays of no more than 5,000 words on any subject, are eligible for consideration for this award, whose winner receives $250 and publication in Lunch Ticket, the literary and art journal produced by the MFA community of Antioch University Los Angeles.
Works must not have been published elsewhere. Award winners are required to submit a 100-word biography, recent photo and a short note thanking the Woods family for their generosity and support.
Deadlines: Biannual reading periods are the month of February for the Summer/Fall issue and the month of August for the Winter/Spring issue.
23. Words & Brushes
This contest seeks to foster collaborations between artists and writers. Select a piece of artwork from the gallery provided and submit a short story inspired by it and you could win $350 — plus a spot in a future art book showcasing these collaborations. Short stories should be between 2,000 – 5,000 words.
Deadline: Annually; 2017 has passed and 2018 deadline is not yet announced.
24. Write the World
For young writers ages 13-18, this cool contest also serves as a mini writer’s camp. Recognizing that “a first draft is never perfect,” submissions actually receive peer review by authors, writing teachers and other experts and writers are given the chance to revise their pieces based on this feedback before submitting them for final prize consideration. There’s a $100 prize for the winner and $50 for the runner-up (plus $50 for the best peer-reviewer). All three are featured on Write the World’s blog alongside comments from a guest judge. And since each month’s prompt is from a different genre, developing writers get a chance to test out different styles.
Stuck with writer’s block and looking for a way to jumpstart your escape? Prose offers weekly challenges meant to spark your creativity; many are just for fun, but look for the weekly numbered challenges posted by Prose (rather than community members or sponsors) for a chance to win money.
Prizes are typically between $100 – $200 and word counts are low — some as low as under 150, some as high as 500, but all say “quality beats quantity.” So even if all you get from the prompt is a chance to flex your brain, it’s not a bad deal.
Curious about opportunities for poets? Your stanzas — rhyming or not — could be worth a fair amount of money in these competitions.
26. Naomi Long Madgett Poetry Award
Open to African American poets, previously published or not, this award provides a $500 prize and publication by Boardside Lotus Press for the best book-length collection of poems (approximately 60 to 90 pages).
Deadline: Annually on March 1.
27. James Laughlin Award
If you’re already a published poet, this is the award for you; it’s given for a second book of poetry due to come out in the forthcoming year. The winner receives $5,000 and an all-expenses-paid week-long residency. In addition, copies of her book are distributed to the 1,000 members of the Academy of American Poets.
Deadline: Annual submission window is January 1 through May 15.
28. African Poetry Book Fund Prizes
The APBF awards three prizes annually for African Poetry. The Glenna Luschei Prize for Afican Poetry gives $5,000 for a book of original African poetry published in the prior year.
The Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets gives $1,000 and a publication contract for an unpublished book-length collection of poetry by an African author.
The Brunel University African Poetry Prize is a new prize that grants £3,000 to a poet who was born in Africa, is a national of an African country or has African parents, who has not yet had a full-length book of poetry published. (U.S. citizens qualify.) To submit, you’ll need 10 poems.
Deadlines: See individual prize pages.
29. Tufts Poetry Awards
Claremont Graduate University presents two awards each year to poets they deem to be “outstanding.” The Kate Tufts Poetry Award grants $10,000 for a published first book of poetry that shows promise.
The Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award grants a mammoth $100,000 for a published book of poetry by an an established or mid-career poet.
Deadline: Books published between July of the previous year and June 30 of the current year are eligible for the following year’s prize (i.e. award for 2017 was for works publishing between between July 1, 2015 and June 30, 2016). Deadline for 2018 awards has not yet been announced.
Writing contests with multiple categories
Some contests accept submissions in multiple categories, so you could submit a novella as well as a poem or other work.
30. Binghamton University Book Awards
Sponsored by the Binghamton Center for Writers — State University of New York, this competition offers a $1,000 prize for work published in the previous year in two separate categories. The John Gardner Fiction Book Award goes to the best novel or collection of fiction, while the Milt Kessler Poetry Book award goes to the best book of poems.
Deadline: Annually on March 1 for books published the previous year.
31. Writer’s Digest Annual Writing Competition
(Editor’s note: We were so excited to include this competition that we overlooked its entry fees. We’ll leave it in the post for those interested in submitting their work, but please note that this contest is not free.)
One of the longest-running writing competitions — it’s now in its 83rd year — this contest spotlights up and coming writers in a number of categories, including Memoirs/Personal Essay, Magazine Feature Article and Genre Short story.
The Grand Prize winner gets $5,000, a feature in Writer’s Digest magazine, a paid trip to a writing conference and more. Runners-up earn prizes in first through tenth places.
Deadline: Annually; May 5, 2017.
Where to find more legitimate, free writing contests
Looking for more opportunities to submit your work to writing contests? Here are a few great sites to keep an eye on.
A number of the contests found on our list came highly recommended by this site, which compiles some of the best free literary contests out there. You can sort contests by recommendation level (Highly Recommended, Recommended or Neutral), view plenty of info on requirements and even see which contests are better for beginners, intermediate writers and pros.
They also offer a handful of contests themselves, including the Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest (which sounds delightful).
Poets & Writers
Another fantastic source for legitimate writing contests I consulted when compiling this list, Poets & Writers vets competitions, contests, awards and grants to make sure they’re following legitimate practises and policies. It’s worth checking out regularly as it features both annual and one-time contests.
Cathy’s Comps and Calls
Writer, poet and editor Cathy Bryant sources legitimate, free-to-enter writing contests and calls for submission. She releases a new list of contests and calls each month, so check back monthly for new opportunities.
Are you planning to enter any writing contests this year? Which ones?
This post contains affiliate links. That means if you purchase through our links, you’re supporting The Write Life — and we thank you for that!
This post originally ran in February 2016. We updated it in March 2017.
Filed Under: Craft
Move from irregular client work and crappy pay to being a freelance leader in your field. Paul Jarvis, who’s been freelancing for 16+ years, shares his advice on pricing, positioning and more.
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Short Story Competitions
Quick links on this page:
Last updated 11th March 2018
Below are tables listing various short story competitions. Some are based in the UK, some are global. Some contests are of high renown (like the BBC Short Story Award or the Bridport Prize), offering huge prizes, and some are lesser known, but offer great opportunities for newer writers to become published authors. I will try and keep this list up to date, but please check the rules and dates on the different competition websites before entering. Most of the competitions accept entries from anywhere in the world, but require stories to be written in English.
I’ve kept the information on the writing competition calendar brief, only detailing the important bits, like genre, approximate opening dates, approximate closing dates, word count and, of course, the amount of prize money you can win. You can learn lots more about the rules for each individual competition by visiting the different websites. I have provided links to make this resource as easy to use as possible :)
If you run a short story competition and would like me to add it to the lists below, please contact me and provide the following information:
- How often you will be running the competition (eg, annually, quarterly, one-off)
- The name of your competition
- A link to your website
- The country you run the competition from
- Closing date
- Date you announce winners
- Maximum word count of stories
- Entry fee
- Top prize
- Any other details, including how winning writers' stories will be published and any theme or limitation on style/genre of stories accepted
A note from Henshaw Press, about their listing on this page:
Three months ago, we did a review of our publicity, part of which was asking entrants how they found our competition. About a third of them found us through your web site.
So thanks again for your support.
I will also try and add to this list regularly as I hear about more competitions.
If you want to see stats of the growing audience you can reach by being listed here, please see my advertising page, which contains lots of statistics. I update this page once a year.
Please contact me if there is any other information you would like to see on this page, or for any ideas on improvements. I have recently updated the page into sections as detailed in the quick links at the top of the page, and have put the competitions in alphabetical order, the only exception being discontinued competitions which appear at the bottom of the relevant list for reference only. I hope this makes the lists easier to use.
Also, as the page is getting larger and the lists are getting longer, it is becoming harder for me to maintain. I'll do my best to check all the links regularly, but if you spot any mistakes, outdated information or broken links, please let me know.
I'm fortunate enough to have been published through some of the competitions in the lists below. In these instances, there will be links to the published stories and more detailed information about my direct experiences with the competition in question. See Devil's Crush as an example.
If you have been published through a short story competition and would be willing to write about your experiences for my website, please see my submission guidelines.
UPDATE: Very short story (flash fiction) competitions previously listed on this page have been moved here onto a dedicated page to improve usability.
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Featured Short Story Competitions
Do you run a short story competition? Do you want it featured at the top of this page? If so, get in touch. This page is the most popular resource on my website, receiving between 10,000 and 16,000 visits a month.
Featured Competition: To Hull And Back
To Hull And Back is an annual humorous short story competition that offers 'the greatest literary prize in the known macrocosm'. You can decide for yourself whether that's true or not...
To my knowledge, To Hull And Back is the only short story competition that celebrates humorous writing. If I'm wrong and you know of another contest specifically for comedy writing, please let me know.
There are 20 cash prizes (the top prize is £1,000) and all the entrants are published in an anthology. In addition to this, the winner's face is featured on the front cover of the book, which is created by a different artist each year. The book is then strapped to the handlebars of a Harley Davidson FLSTFi Fatboy and filmed being ridden to Hull and back.
Original. Unusual. Crazy. But lots of fun. You can see the most recent winner's video here:
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Regular Short Story Competitions
The first table lists weekly, monthly, bi-monthly, quarterly and bi-annual short story competitions.
As mentioned above, details of very short story (flash fiction) competitions have now been moved to a dedicated resource. I mention it again here because there were a lot listed in the regular competition lists.
|Competition||Country||Closing Date||Winners Announced||Max Words||Entry Fee||Top Prize|
|Alsina Short Story Competitions||UK||Varies||Varies||Varies||FREE||£50|
|Notes on Alsina Competition: Styles, genres and themes vary - they also run flash fiction contests - winning stories translated and recorded in multiple languages and distributed electronically through an app|
|Artificium Short Story Competition||UK||Varies||Varies||8,000||£5/£6||£300|
Notes on Artificium Short Story Competition: Any style / genre - entry fee £5 for UK residents, £6 for non-UK - winners published in Artificium journal - competition usually run twice a year, but sometimes more often
|Audio Arcadia Short Story Competition||UK||Varies||Varies||Varies||£5.50||See notes|
Notes on Audio Arcadia Competition: Themed, so check website for current theme - winning stories published in paperback and eBook formats - authors receive a royalty percentage of the net profit from total monthly net sales
|Chris Fielden's Flash Fiction Writing Challenges||UK||Never closes||Everyone is a winner||Varies||FREE||See notes|
Notes on Chris's Writing: Any style or genre but each challenge is themed, so check the link for current challenges - full details now available on a new page dedicated to flash fiction competition lists
|Commaful's Writing Contests||USA||Varies||Varies||Varies||FREE||See notes|
|Notes on Commaful's Contest: Any style / genre but themed, so check site for details - winner's story published on Commaful's website, which boasts a reach of over 4M - they run lots of different writing contests regularly, check the link for details|
|Creative Competitor Writing Competitions||France||Various||Various||Various||Various||Various|
Notes on Creative Competitor Competitions: These guys run, on average, 2 different writing competitions a month. Comps include short stories, poetry and more. I can't really keep on top of listing all the changes, so the best bet is to visit the website and see what they have running which might appeal to you
|Dark Tales Short Story Contest||UK||Monthly||Monthly||5,000||£2.50||£100|
Notes on Dark Tales Competition: Horror and speculative fiction - all winners and shortlisted entrants published on website and in anthology - this competition closed in 2016 having been run since 2003 and, I'm very pleased to say, has reopened in May 2017
|Drapers Guild Short Story Contest||USA||See notes||See notes||no max||$12.50||$100|
Notes on Drapers Guild Competition: Any style / genre - for every 15 stories submitted, a $100 prize is awarded, so it's a perpetual contest - winners published on the website
|Dream Quest One Writing Contest||USA||Bi-Annual||Bi-Annual||5 pages||$10||$500|
Notes on Dream Quest One Competition: Any style / genre - winners published in the 'Dare to Dream' section of the website
|Edit Crowd Short Story Competition||UK||Quarterly||Quarterly||8,000||FREE||£25|
|Notes on Edit Crowd Competition: Any style / genre - winners published on the website|
|England's Future History Short Story Competition||UK||Varies||Varies||3,000||FREE||See notes|
Notes on England's Future History Competition: Any style / genre but set in England's future - all accepted (winning) stories become part of the website's timeline, so are published on the site
|FanStory Writing Contests||USA||Weekly||Weekly||Varies||$9.95||$100|
|Notes on FanStory Contests: FanStory run a variety of contests including short story, flash fiction, poetry, non-fiction and many more - each competition is run quarterly, but they launch new contests as often as every week|
|Fantastic Books Publishing Writing Competitions||UK||Varies||Varies||Varies||£5||£100|
|Notes on Fantastic Books Publishing Competitions: Any style / genre but themed, so check website for current details - FBS run at least 2 competitions a year, but sometimes run more in support of charities - winners published in anthology|
|Fairytalez Writing Competitions||Denmark / USA||Varies||Varies||5,000||FREE||$200|
|Notes on Fairytalez Competitions: Themed, so check website for current details - top prize paid as an Amazon gift voucher|
|Fiction Factory Short Story Competition||UK||Tri-Annually||Tri-Annually||3,000||£6||£150|
|Notes on Fiction Factory Competition: Any style / genre except children's and YA - you can order an optional critique for £5 when entering|
|Field of Words Writing Competitions||Australia||Varies||Varies||Varies||Varies||Varies|
Notes on Field of Words Competitions: Any style / genre - now open to Australian AND international residents over 18 only - they run a variety of competitions throughout the year, including short story, flash fiction, memoir and ghost story, so check website for current details - winners published on Field of Words website - top prizes up to A$750
|Flash Fiction Writers Group Contest||USA||Bi-weekly||Bi-weekly||1,200||FREE||See notes|
|Notes on Flash Fiction Writers Group Contest: Any style / genre - winners receive Eternal kudos and the occasional Starbucks Gift Card|
|Grindstone Short Fiction Competition||UK||Quarterly||Quarterly||Varies||Varies||Varies|
|Notes on Grindstone Competition: Any style / genre but themed, so check website for current details - winners published on the Grindstone website|
|Henshaw Press Short Story Competition||UK||Quarterly||Quarterly||2,000||£5||£100|
Notes on Henshaw Press Competition: Any style / genre - winners published on the website and offered inclusion in printed anthology, proceeds of which support charity - second prize £50, third prize £25 - optional critique £10
|Hour of Writes Weekly Writing Competition||UK||Weekly||Weekly||2,000||£3||£50*|
Notes on Hour of Writes Competition: Any style / genre, but themed, so check website for current theme - prize money based on number of entry fees, minimum usually £50 - winners published on website
|Michael Terence Publishing (MTP) Short Story Competition||UK||Varies||Varies||3,000||£5||£300|
|Notes on MTP Competition: Any style / genre but entrants must be new writers who have never been published - winners published in printed anthology|
|Needle in the Hay Writing Awards||Australia||Weekly / Monthly||Weekly / Monthly||200 to 2,000||FREE||See notes|
Notes on Needle in the Hay Competitions: Any style / genre - LOADS of different competitions, run weekly and monthly all year round for different story lengths with varying prize amounts - best to check the website and see what is currently running - short listed stories published on the website and then a rotating panel of judges vote for winner - prizes vary from cash (up to A$400) to critiques
|New Millennium Awards||USA||Bi-Annually||Bi-Annually||6,000*||$20||$1,000|
Notes on New Millennium Awards: Any style / genre - categories include fiction (6000 word limit) and short fiction (1000 word limit) - winners in each category receive $1000 and will be published in anthology and online - entry fee includes a copy of the anthology - also run essay, non-fiction and poetry prizes
|NYC Midnight Writing Challenges||USA||Varies||Varies||Varies||Varies||Varies|
Notes on NYC Midnight Challenges: Style & genres vary - MYC Midnight run short story, flash fiction, screenwriting and screenplay competitions - entry fees are around $45 - all entrants receive feedback from the judges
|Palmnates Writing Prize||South Africa||Monthly||Monthly||2,000||FREE||$200|
|Notes on Palmnates Prize: Any style / genre but themed, so check website for full details - winners and minimum of 7 runners-up will be published in a Kindle anthology|
|Park Publications (Scribble & Debut Magazine)||UK||Quarterly||Quarterly||3,000||£3, FREE to subscribers||£75|
Notes on Park Publications Competitions: Any style / genre - short listed stories published in Scribble magazine and judged by readers. Scribble has now merged with Debut to become 1 magazine which also accepts articles (I've been published in Scribble, so you can read a lot more about it here)
|Portable Story Series Competition||USA||Tri-Annually||Tri-Annually||4,500||$10||See notes|
Notes on PSS Competition: Any style / genre - top prize is $250 or 75% of submission fees (whichever is greater) and winning story professionally recorded (valued at $5500) and made available on the website as a free download - each contest supports 3 charitable organisations
|Sentinel Literary Short Story Competition||UK||Varies||Varies||Varies||Varies||Varies|
Notes on Sentinel Competition: Any style / genre - winners published in Sentinel Literary Magazine - their short story competition is currently under review, but the poetry competition they run is still operating
|Severance Publications Writing Competitions||UK||Varies||Varies||Varies||FREE||£50|
Notes on Severance Publications Competition: Any style / genre but each competition has a different theme, so check website for current details - winners published in anthologies
|Solution Loans Short Story Competition||UK||Biannually||Biannually||Varies||FREE||£200|
Notes on Solution Loans Competition: Any style / genre, but themed, so check website for current details - winners published on the Solution Loans website - started off as an annual competition, but due to the success of the inaugural contest, is now running twice a year
When this competition launched, I received a few concerns on Twitter. Some writers were worried that Solution Loans were exploiting writers for free content. I wrote to Solution Loans about these concerns and received this response:
The idea to sponsor a Short Story competition actually came from one of our employees who is a keen writer, and regularly enters competitions in her spare time. We thought it was a great idea, so offered to support it.
Finance can be a pretty dull area so we’re always looking for new ideas and ways to link to our Solution Loans brand. It’s just a form of sponsorship really – a bit like Costa and Bailey’s sponsoring book awards!
Yes, there are prizes - £200 for the winner and 3 x £50 for runners up. Only the four winning entries will be published on the website, and if a writer has a concern about that then I’m sure we could have a separate discussion. There’s no question about us gaining free content. We already employ a number of freelance writers to produce our blog and social media posts.
Hopefully aspiring writers will see it as an opportunity to have their work recognised and published and win a cash prize.
Alex Silverman, Competition Co-Ordinator
I understand the concerns of the writers who queried the legitimacy of this contest. However, having worked in digital marketing, I also understand what Solution Loans are doing. I've done the same things for clients in the past. As the competition is legitimate, and Solution Loans were good enough to prepare the response above, I will be continuing to list the contest on my website. Winning writers receive cash prizes, so I don't believe they are being exploited - they are being paid for their stories.
I hope this resolves any concerns, but if not, please feel free to contact me
|Stirling Robyns Publishing Short Story Competition||UK/USA||Quarterly||Quarterly||5,000||$3||$100|
|Notes on Stirling Robyns Competition: Any style / genre - winners published in anthology and on website - winner also receives a free reading of their novel/novella/poetry chapbook|
|Stringybark Short Story Awards||Australia||Varies||Varies||Varies||Varies||Varies|
|Notes on Stringybark Awards: Different genre for each competition, so check website for current details - runs 3 or 4 times a year - word count limit usually between 1,500 and 1,800 - prizes up to $500 plus publication|
|Sweek's Writing Competitions||Holland||Varies||Varies||Varies||FREE||Varies|
|Notes on Sweek's Competition: Any style / genre - Sweek run a wide variety of regular writing competitions, so it's best to check the website to see what's currently running|
|Tethered by Letters Writing Contests||USA||Quarterly||Quarterly||Varies||Varies||Varies|
Notes on Tethered by Letters Competition: Any style / genre - winners published in the Tethered by Letters’ Quarterly Journal - all finalists considered for later publication in the journal - TBL also run a variety of other competitions, including a regular flash fiction competition and a poetry competition, so check out the website for more details
|The Monkey Collective's Monkey Collection||UK||Quarterly||Quarterly||5,000||FREE||See notes|
|Notes on The Monkey Collective Competition: Any style / genre - winners published in short story collection and get a royalty on sales|
|The Squat Pen Rests Short Story Writing Competition||UK||Quarterly (ish)||See notes||2,000||£3||£50|
|Notes on The Squat Pen Rests Competition: Any style / genre but each competition has prompt, so check website for current details - shortlisted writers read at live short story performance event held in Swindon, UK, where the winner is selected by the audience - in addition to cash, winner receives a mug emblazoned with ‘Writing Champion of the World’ (or similar) - all finalists' stories published on the competition website and receive a runners-up mug|
The Writing District Competition
|Notes on The Writing District Competition: Any style / genre - winners published on website|
|The Writing World Short Story Competition||UK||See notes||See notes||3,000||£5||£100|
|Notes on The Writing World Competition: Any style / genre but themed, so check website for current details - runs every month for a 6 month period between October and March - winners published in eBook anthology|
|Vanda 'n' Linda's Write Space Short Story Competition||UK||Bi-Annually||Bi-Annually||2,000||£6||£250|
|Notes on Write Space Competition: Any style / genre - winners published on website - they also run other free contests throughout the year, so best to check website for current details|
|Words Mag Short Story Competition||UK||Bi-Annually||Bi-Annually||2,000||£3||£75|
Notes on Words Mag Competition: Any style / genre - all winning and commended short stories are published in Words Magazine and online anthologies
Notes on Writer's Bureau Competition: Any style / genre - winning stories published on the WB website - WB run a short story competition, a flash fiction competition and a limerick competition, so at least 3 comps run a year - the link will take you to the competition that is currently running - top prize money is decent, always hundreds of pounds
|Writer's Digest Writing Competitions||USA||Varies||Varies||Varies||Varies||Varies|
Notes on Writer's Digest Competitions: They run a wide variety of contests throughout the year, some offering big cash prizes (thousands of dollars) - best to check the website and see which competitions are currently running
|Writers' Forum||UK||Monthly||Monthly||3,000||£6, £3 for subscribers||£300|
Notes on Writers' Forum Competition: Any style / genre - top 3 stories published in Writers' Forum magazine (I've won this competition in the past, so you can read more about it here - more recently, Rhiannon Lewis also won the competition and she's kindly written about her experiences here, including details of the exact process she used to win)
|Writers of the Future||USA||Quarterly + Annual||Quarterly + Annual||17,000||FREE||$5,000|
Notes on Writers of the Future Competition: SF & Fantasy - quarterly prizes + annual prize - amateur only, so if you've published more than 3 stories you're not eligible
|Writing Magazine Short Story Competition||UK||Monthly||Monthly||Varies||Varies||Varies|
Notes on Writing Magazine Competition: Any style / genre - winners are published in Writing Magazine - WM run a variety of competitions, some open and some for subscribers only, so it's best to check the website to see what competitions are currently open
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Prestigious &/or Big Prize Short Story Competitions
The second table lists well renowned and prestigious competitions which offer big cash prizes. Any short story competition with a prize of more than £1,000 ($, € or other currency) is listed here. There are a couple of other big prize awards listed in the Regular Short Story Competitions (it seems pointless to list them twice).
|Competition||Country||Closing Date||Winners Announced||Max Words||Entry Fee||Top Prize|
|Aeon Award (speculative fiction)||Ireland||November||December||10,000||€20||€1,000|
Notes on Aeon Award Competition: Speculative fiction - so fantasy, sci-fi, horror etc. - winning stories published in Albedo One
|Alpine Fellowship Writing Prize||UK||March||June||2,500||2,500||£3,000|
|Notes on Alpine Fellowship Prize: Any style / genre but themed, so check website for this year's details - winner and two runners up invited to attend the Venice symposium|
Notes on the Asham Award: Any style / genre - the competition is only open to women who live in the UK - run every other year - attracts up to 950 entries, so competition is tough - winners published alongside well known female writers in a collection
|Bath Flash Fiction Award||UK||Tri-Annually||Tri-Annually||300||£9||£1,000|
Notes on the Bath Flash Fiction Award: Any style / genre (except children's) - details have been moved to my lists of flash fiction competitions
|Bath Short Story Award||UK||April||July||2,200||£8||£1,200|
Notes on the Bath Short Story Award: Any style / genre (except children's) - winning stories published on the BSSA website and in print and digital anthology - generous payments for 2nd and 3rd prize too
|Bayou Magazine ' James Knudsen Prize for Fiction'||USA||January||February||7,500||$20||$1,000|
|Notes on the Bayou Magazine Prize: Any style / genre - winner published in Bayou Magazine and given free subscription - all entries considered for publication in the magazine|
|BBC Short Story Award||UK||March||September||8,000||FREE||£15,000|
Notes on BBC Competition: Any style / genre - you have to be a published author to enter this, so you need to win another competition first, or be published in a publication of some renown. Self published does NOT count! - winning and short listed stories recorded and broadcast on BBC Radio 4
|Boston Review Short Story Contest||USA||October||Spring||5,000||$20||$1,500|
Notes on Boston Review Contest: Any style / genre - entry fee includes 6 month subscription to magazine - winners published in Boston Review
Notes on Bridport Prize Competition: Any style / genre - winning stories published in anthology - highly prestigious, so lots of competition
Notes on Bristol Prize Competition: Any style / genre - top 20 stories published in Anthology - in 2011, over 2,000 entries, so high competition
|Christopher Fielden's 'To Hull And Back' Humorous Short Story Competition||UK||July||October||2,500||£9/£11||£1,000 and see notes|
Notes on the To Hull & Back Competition: Any style / genre, but stories must contain some element of humour - winners published in the To Hull & Back anthology and, in addition to money, the winner will receive the GREATEST writing prize in the known universe (click the link to see more) - 2nd prize £500, 3rd prize £250 and there are 17 runner-up cash prizes - £9 is 'early bird' entry fee for entries received by the end of April - the entry fee goes up to £11 on 1st May - discounts available if you enter more than 1 story - as I'd been running this list for many years, it seemed appropriate to launch my own short story competition, so I did in 2013
|Colorado State University Nelligan Prize||USA||March||July||12,500||$15||$2,000|
Notes on Nelligan Prize: Any style / genre - winner published in the Colorado Review - all entries considered for publication in the Colorado Review
|Commonwealth Short Story Prize||UK||November||May||5,000||FREE||£2,500 / £5,000 - see notes|
Notes on Commonwealth Short Story Prize: Any style / genre - regional winners receive £2,500 prize, overall winner receives £5,000 prize - winning stories are published in an anthology - open for submissions in October and November only
|Costa Short Story Award||UK||August||January||4,000||FREE||£3,500|
Notes on Costa Short Story Award: Any style / genre - 6 shortlisted stories are announced in November and then the public vote for the winner - runners-up also receive high cash prizes - open to residents of UK and Ireland only
|Davy Byrnes Short Story Award||Ireland||February||June||15,000||€10||€15,000|
Notes on the Davey Byrnes Award: Any style / genre - 5 runner up prizes of €1,000 - runs every 5 years (last run 2014) - open to Irish citizens and to writers who are resident or were born in the thirty-two counties - winners published in anthology by The Stinging Fly
|Dragonfly Tea Short Story Competition||UK||July||October||3,000||FREE||£1,500|
|Notes on Dragonfly Tea Competition: Any style / genre but themed so check website for current details - open to UK residents only - run in association with Henley Literary Festival|
|Enizagam Literary Contest for Fiction||USA||March||April||4,000||$20||$1,000|
|Notes on Enizagam Contest: Any style / genre - winners published in Enizagam Journal and nominated for Pushcart Prize|
|Fish Publishing Short Story Competition||Ireland||November||March||5,000||€20||€3,000|
Notes on Fish Publishing Competition: Any style / genre - winning stories published in the Fish Anthology
|Galtellì Literary Prize||Sardinia, Italy||April||May||5,000||FREE||€1,000|
Notes on Galtellì Prize : A novel is selected to inspire and stimulate writers and a different genre is used every time the prize is run, so check website for current details - winners receive up to €1,000 in travel costs to Sardinia to attend awards ceremony (1st place receives an additional €1,000 in prize money) - winners published in anthology - runs every other year: 2015, 2017, 2019 etc.
Short Story Contest
|MA, USA||March||?||no max||$5||$1,000|
Notes on Gemini Magazine Contest: Any style / genre - winners published on Gemini Magazine website
|Glimmer Train||OR, USA||Varies||Varies||Varies||Varies||up to $3,000 (see notes)|
Notes on Glimmer Train Competition: Any style / genre - Glimmer Train run various competitions throughout the year, with prizes varying from around $600 to about $3,000 - entry fees range from FREE to around the $20 mark, depending on the competition - winners are published in the Glimmer Train Literary Journal, which is a highly respected US publication read by many literary agents and publishers
|Hourglass Literary Magazine Writing Contest||Bosnia||May||September||7,000||$15||$1,000|
Notes on Hourglass Contest: Any style / genre - winners published in Hourglass Literary Magazine
|InkTears Short Story Competition||UK||Varies||Varies||3,000||£6||£1,000|
Notes on InkTears Competition: Any style / genre - winners and runners up published on website and also offered the possibility of having a collection of their short stories published through Ink Tears (I've been published through this competition and you can read more about my experiences here) - on occasion they also run a flash fiction contest with a £250 prize
|Launceston, Tasmania Literary Award||Tasmania||June||October||1,500||A$10||A$2,500|
Notes on Launceston Tasmania Competition: Any style / genre - run by The Society of Women Writers, Tasmania but open to male and female entrants residing anywhere in the world - winners published in an anthology
|Literary Taxidermy Short Story Competition||USA||June||September||3,000||See notes||$1,500|
|Notes on Literary Taxidermy Competition: Any style / genre - the opening and closing lines is chosen from a classic work of literature, the entrant provides the rest, so check website for current details - winners published by Regulus Press in anthology - entry free, but there is a voluntary $10 fee|
|London Short Story Prize||UK||October||December||5,000||£5||£1,000|
Notes on the London Short Story Prize: Any style / genre but for writers based in London only - winners published in short story anthology by Spread The Word - (2015 highly commended author, James Woolf, has written about his experiences with this competition on my site - read James's post and an extract of his story here)
|Los Gatos Irish Writers' Festival Short Story Competition||USA||September||October||5,000||$15||$1,000|
|Notes on the Los Gatos Competition: Any style / genre - winners published on website|
|Magic Oxygen Literary Competition||UK||December||February||4,000||£5||£1,000|
Notes on the Magic Oxygen Competition: Any style / genre - winners and shortlisted entries published in anthology - Tracey and Simon, the competition organisers, plant a tree for every entry received (each entrant receives GPS coordinates to their tree so they can go and visit it if they wish!) and are also funding the build of a classroom at a school in Kenya - (short story author Christie Cluett was shortlisted and published by Magic Oxygen - read Christie's story and learn about her experiences here)
|Manchester Writing Competition||UK||August||October||2,500||£17||£10,000|
Notes on Manchester Writing Competition: Any style / genre - winning stories may be published in journals or on the website
Masters Review Short Story Award for New Writers
|Notes on Master Review Award: Any style / genre - winners published on Masters Review website - top 3 winning stories reviewed by major NYC literary agencies|
|Mogford Literary Prize for Food & Drink||UK||January||March||2,500||£10||£10,000|
Notes on Jeremy Mogford Competition: Theme is food and drink - used to run as part of the Sunday Times Oxford Literary Festival but is now run independently - the winner's story will be read by an actor and uploaded on the StoryPlayer website
|Moth Magazine Short Story Competition||Ireland||June||Autumn||6,000||€12||€3,000|
Notes on Moth Magazine Competition: Any style / genre - winning story published in the summer issue of Moth Magazine
|New Welsh Review Writing Awards||Wales||Varies||Varies||30,000||FREE||£1,000|
Notes on New Welsh Review Competition: Any style / genre, but themed so check website for current details (changes each year) - winner published by New Welsh Review - runners up may also be published - only open to residents of the UK and Ireland, or people living worldwide that were educated in Wales for a minimum of 6 months
|Pirate’s Alley Faulkner Society - William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition||USA||May||September||10,000||$35||$1,500|
|Notes on Pirate’s Alley Faulkner Society Competition: Any style / genre - winners might be published|
|Prarie Fire Press Short Fiction Contest||Canada||November||?||10,000||C$32||C$1,250|
Notes on Prarie Fire Contest: Any style / genre - entry includes 1 year subscription to Prarie Fire magazine - winners published in the magazine and paid for publication
|Prism International Short Fiction Contest||Canada||January||?||6,000||C$45||C$1,500|
Notes on Prism International Contest: Any style / genre - all contest entrants receive a 1 year subscription to Prism International - winners published in the Prism International magazine - Prism also run a creative non-fiction contest, a poetry contest and a variety of other competitions, all with generous top prizes
|Reader's Digest 100-Word-Story Competition||UK||February||March||100||FREE||£1,000|
Notes on Reader's Digest Competition: Any style / genre but entries must be exactly 100 words in length - the full details of this contest have been moved to a dedicated resource for very short story competitions
|Room Magazine Writing Contest||Canada||July||?||3,500||$49||$1,000|
Notes on Room Magazine Competition: Any style / genre - entries are cheaper for Canadian residents ($35) and all entries include a year's subscription to Room Magazine - winners published in Room Magazine
|Royal Society of Literature V.S. Pritchett Memorial Prize||UK||June||?||4,000||£5||£1,000|
Notes on V.S. Pritchett Memorial Prize: Any style / genre - open to citizens or residents of the UK, the Republic of Ireland and Commonwealth countries - winners published on RSL website - (author Nick Sweeney has written about his experiences of coming runner-up in this competition - read Nick's advice and an extract of his winning story here)
|Ruminate Magazine William Van Dyke Short Story Prize||CO, USA||October||December||5,500||$20||$1,500|
Notes on Ruminate Short Story Contest: Any style / genre - winner and runner up published in the spring issue of Ruminate Magazine - they recommend that you read previous winners to see the preferred style
|Scottish Arts Club Short Story Competition||UK||March||October||1,500||£10||£1,000|
|Notes on Scottish Arts Club Competition:|