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The Bath Short Story Award

Jude Higgins, Jane Riekemann and Alison Woodhouse

The International Bath Short Story Award, is currently organised by Jude Higgins, Jane Riekemann and Alison Woodhouse. Launched in 2012 the BSSA has rapidly become established as one of the prominent short story competitions in the UK receiving over fifteen hundred world-wide entries each year and producing a yearly anthology of short-listed and winning authors.


Deadline April 19, 2021 (Expired)

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Top prize

£1200

Additional prizes

Genres

Fiction, Flash Fiction, Non-fiction, Short Story, Young Adult,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $12

Tom Howard/John H. Reid Fiction & Essay Contest

Winning Writers

Welcome to the 29th annual Tom Howard/John H. Reid Fiction & Essay Contest. Submit published or unpublished work. $5,000 in prizes.


Deadline April 30, 2021

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Top prize

$3,000

Additional prizes

Genres

Fiction, Non-fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $20

Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize

University of Pittsburgh Press

The University of Pittsburgh Press announces the Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize for a first full-length book of poems. Named after the first director of the Press, the prize carries a cash award of $5,000 and publication by the University of Pittsburgh Press in the Pitt Poetry Series under its standard royalty contract. The winner will be announced in the fall; no information about the winner will be released before the fall announcement. The Starrett Prize is our only venue for first-book poetry manuscripts.


Deadline April 30, 2021

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Top prize

$5,000

Additional prizes

Publication by the University of Pittsburgh Press

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $25

Marsh Hawk Press Poetry Prize

Marsh Hawk Press

A prize of $1,000 and publication by Marsh Hawk Press is given annually for a poetry collection. Manuscripts should be between 48 to 84 pages. [Submissions open December 1, 2020]


Deadline April 30, 2021

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Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Publication by Marsh Hawk Press

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $25

The Ghost Story Supernatural Fiction Award

The Ghost Story

The Ghost Story Supernatural Fiction Award competition for full-length short stories on a supernatural theme is now open for submissions! Twice each year TGS awards $1,000 and both online and print publication to the winner of our short story competition.


Deadline April 30, 2021

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Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Publication on the Ghost Story website

Genres

Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $20

Irene Adler Prize

Lucas Aykroyd

The Irene Adler Prize offers a $1,000 US scholarship to a woman pursuing a degree in journalism, creative writing, or literature at a recognized post-secondary institution in the U.S. or Canada, based on an essay competition.


Deadline April 30, 2021

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Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Genres

Essay,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: FREE

Cave Canem Poetry Prize

Cave Canem

Launched in 1999 with Rita Dove 's selection of Natasha Trethewey 's Domestic Work, this first-book award is dedicated to the discovery of exceptional manuscripts by black poets of African descent. Manuscripts should be 48-75 pages in length.


Deadline April 30, 2021

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Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Publication by University of Pittsburgh Press

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $20

Adrienne Rich Award for Poetry

Beloit Poetry Journal

Submit 1-3 unpublished poems on any subject in any style up to a maximum of 10 pages per entry. (We enjoy long poems!)


Deadline April 30, 2021

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Top prize

$1,500

Additional prizes

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $15

Trio Award for First or Second Book

Trio House Press

The Trio Award for First or Second Book includes $1,000, publication, and twenty books. The Trio Award for First or Second Book is only open to poets with less than two books published.


Deadline April 30, 2021

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Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Genres

Fiction, Novel,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $25

Louise Bogan Award

Trio House Press

The Louise Bogan Award for Artistic Merit and Excellence includes $1,000, publication, and twenty books. The Louise Bogan Award for Artistic Merit and Excellence is open to ALL poets, regardless of publication history.


Deadline April 30, 2021

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Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $25

WOW! Women On Writing Quarterly Creative Nonfiction Essay Contest

WOW! Women On Writing

WOW! is proud to introduce our newest essay contest! The contest is open globally. Your story must be true, but the way you tell it is your chance to get creative. We are open to all styles of essay—from personal essay to lyric essay to hybrid essay, and beyond!


Deadline April 30, 2021

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Top prize

$500

Additional prizes

Publication, interview, and gift card good for one item from CreateWriteNow's Store

Genres

Non-fiction,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $12

Swanwick Short Story Competition

Writers Online

Swanwick Writers' Summer School is a week-long programme for writers of all ages abilities and genres. You could win a place for 2021 for a single short story, up to 1,000 words, on this year's theme 'Second chances'.


Deadline April 30, 2021

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Top prize

Fully inclusive stay at Swanwick Summer School

Additional prizes

Writing Magazine manuscript appraisal, Writers' & Artists' Yearbook 2021

Genres

Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $8

Anthology Short Story Award

Anthology Magazine

Writers of short fiction are invited to enter the Anthology Short Story Award. Established to recognise and encourage creative writing and provide a platform for publication, it is open to original and previously unpublished short stories in the English language. Stories submitted must be on the theme of ‘Memories’ and not exceed the maximum of 1,500 words.


Deadline April 30, 2021

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Top prize

$500

Additional prizes

Publication in Anthology Magazine, one-year subscription

Genres

Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $10

F(r)iction Short Story Contest

F(r)iction

We accept work, written in English, from anywhere in the world—regardless of genre, style, or origin—and welcome speculative writing and experimental literature. Strange is good. Strange with a strong character arc is even better. Keep it weird, folks. Entries should be between 1,001 and 7,500 words. Writers over the age of thirteen are welcome to submit.


Deadline April 30, 2021

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Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Considered for publication in F(r)iction

Genres

Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $15

F(r)iction Flash Fiction Contest

F(r)iction

We accept work, written in English, from anywhere in the world—regardless of genre, style, or origin—and welcome speculative writing and experimental literature. Strange is good. Strange with a strong character arc is even better. Keep it weird, folks. Entries should be up to 1,000 words a piece. Writers over the age of thirteen are welcome to submit.


Deadline April 30, 2021

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Top prize

$300

Additional prizes

Considered for publication in F(r)iction

Genres

Fiction, Flash Fiction,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $10

F(r)iction Poetry Contest

F(r)iction

You may submit up to five poems in the same document, and each poem can be up to three pages long. We are particularly drawn to poetry that capitalizes on three main elements: narrative trajectory, central imagery, and a strong content-to-structure relationship. We want to be challenged to dig deeper, but not so much that we have no idea what you’re saying.


Deadline April 30, 2021

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Top prize

$300

Additional prizes

Considered for publication in F(r)iction

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $10

F(r)iction Creative Nonfiction Contest

F(r)iction

F(r)iction celebrates and welcomes all forms of creative nonfiction: memoir excerpts, personal essays, braided narratives, and more. We are particularly drawn to works with interesting structures that help to propel the narrative forward, strong character arcs in which the narrator is deeply changed by their experiences, or a cinematic feel. Entries should be up to 6,000 words.


Deadline April 30, 2021

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Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Considered for publication in F(r)iction

Genres

Essay, Memoir, Non-fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $15

The Adventure Writers Competition

Adventure Writers

Any novels between 50,000 and 200,000 words that are in the realm of action/adventure/thriller/mystery - and chocked-full of adventure - are welcome. New and previously published books welcome, though you must have sold or given away less than 10,000 books of the title(s) you enter. We do not accept sci-fi, fantasy, horror or young children's books. See our website for info on rules and entering.


Deadline April 30, 2021

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Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Consideration by Braveship Books for publishing/promotion, free book trailer, free editing sample

Genres

Fiction, Novel, Thriller, Mystery,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $35

The Peseroff Prize

Breakwater Review

Submit up to three poems and a $10 entry fee. There are no restrictions on content or form: it 's all poetry. Poems should be previously unpublished. The winner and finalists will be published in Breakwater Review.


Deadline May 01, 2021

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Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Publication in spring issue

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $10

Stan and Tom Wick Poetry Prize

Kent State University

This prize is offered annually to a poet who has not previously published a full-length collection of poems. The prize awards the winner with $2,500 and publication of their first full-length book of poetry by the Kent State University Press. The winner and the competition's judge will give a reading together on the Kent State campus.


Deadline May 01, 2021

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Top prize

$2,500

Additional prizes

Publication by Kent State University Press

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $30

The Loraine Williams Poetry Prize

The Georgia Review

The Loraine Williams Poetry Prize is an award for a single poem, to be published in The Georgia Review. The winner will receive $1,500 and an expenses-paid trip to Athens, Georgia, to give a public reading with the judge. Submissions must be sent either online or by mail from March 1 through May 1. All submitted poems will be considered for publication in The Georgia Review; any selected will be paid $4 per line.


Deadline May 01, 2021

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Top prize

$1,500

Additional prizes

Expenses-paid trip to Athens, Georgia

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $15

Wild Atlantic Writing Awards (WAWA)

Ireland Writing Retreat

Open to all genres of flash fiction and creative non-fiction on the theme of love. Entries must be no more than 500 words and must have a title. Entry fee per story is 10 euro.


Deadline May 02, 2021

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Top prize

€500

Additional prizes

Genres

Flash Fiction, Non-fiction,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $12

Writer's Digest Self-Published Book Awards

Writer's Digest

Whether you’re a professional writer, a part-time freelancer or a self-starting student, here’s your chance to enter the premier self-published competition exclusively for self-published books. This self-published competition spotlights today’s self-published works and honors self-published authors.


Deadline May 03, 2021

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Top prize

$8,000

Additional prizes

A feature in Writer's Digest

Genres

Fantasy, Fiction, Memoir, Non-fiction, Science Fiction, Thriller, Young Adult, Novel,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $125

Elizabeth Jolley Short Story Prize

Australian Book Review

The Jolley Prize is open to all short story writers writing in English. We seek original short stories of between 2,000 and 5,000 words.


Deadline May 03, 2021

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Top prize

$AU6,000

Additional prizes

$AU4,000, $AU2,500

Genres

Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $25

Bristol Short Story Prize

Tangent Books

Welcome to the Bristol Short Story Prize – an annual international writing competition open to all published and unpublished, UK and non-UK based writers. Stories can be on any theme or subject and are welcome in any style including graphic, verse or genre-based (Crime, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Historical, Horror, Romance, Children’s etc..) .


Deadline May 05, 2021

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Top prize

£1,000

Additional prizes

£500, £250, £100

Genres

Fiction, Short Story, Crime, Fantasy, Horror, Science Fiction, Young Adult,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $12

Writer's Digest Annual Writing Competition

Writer's Digest

Enter our 89th Annual Writing Competition for your chance to win and have your work be seen by editors and agents! Almost 500 winners will be chosen. The top winning entries of this writing contest will also be on display in the 89th Annual Writer’s Digest Competition Collection. [$20 for a poetry entry, $30 for a manuscript entry]


Deadline May 07, 2021

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Top prize

$5,000

Additional prizes

Genres

Fiction, Non-fiction, Poetry, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $30

The Times/Chicken House Children's Fiction Competition

Chicken House Books

We're looking for original ideas, a fresh voice, a diverse range of entries and stories that children will love! To enter, you must have written a full-length novel suitable for children/young adults aged between 7 and 18 years. We suggest a minimum of 30,000 words and ask that manuscripts do not exceed 80,000 words. The IET 150 Award will be awarded to a manuscript that celebrates Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths.


Deadline May 14, 2021

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Top prize

A worldwide publishing contract with Chicken House & royalty advance of £10,000

Additional prizes

An offer of representation from a top literary agent

Genres

Fiction, Novel, Novella, Science Fiction, Science Writing, Young Adult,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $25

Emerging Writer's Contest

Ploughshares

In the spirit of the journal 's founding mission, the Ploughshares Emerging Writer's Contest recognizes work by an emerging writer in each of three genres: fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. One winner in each genre per year will receive $2,000 and publication in the literary journal. Authors are considered "emerging" if they haven 't published or self-published a book.


Deadline May 15, 2021

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Top prize

$2,000

Additional prizes

Publication in Ploughshares

Genres

Essay, Fiction, Non-fiction, Poetry, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $24

Raymond Carver Short Story Contest

Carve Magazine

The Raymond Carver Short Story Contest is one of the most renowned fiction contests in the world. Featuring prominent guest judges and offering $3000 across five prizes, the contest delivers exciting new fiction from writers all over the world. The contest opens each year April 1 - May 15 and prizewinners are published in our annual fall issue in October.


Deadline May 15, 2021

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Top prize

$2,000

Additional prizes

Publication in Carve Magazine

Genres

Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $17

The Kurt Brown Prizes

Association of Writers & Writing Programs

AWP will offer three scholarships of $500 each to be awarded to three first-place winners in the genres of creative nonfiction, fiction, and poetry. These scholarships must be used to attend a writers’ conference, center, retreat, festival, or residency at one of the AWP member programs in the Directory of Conferences & Centers. All winners and six finalists will also receive a one-year individual membership.


Deadline May 15, 2021

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Top prize

$500 scholarship

Additional prizes

one-year membership

Genres

Fiction, Non-fiction, Novel, Poetry, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $10

James Laughlin Award

Academy of American Poets

Offered since 1954, the James Laughlin Award is given to recognize and support a second book of poetry forthcoming in the next calendar year. Along with $5,000, the winner receives an all-expenses-paid weeklong residency in Miami Beach, Florida, and distribution of the winning book to approximately one thousand Academy of American Poets members. Submissions are accepted January 1 through May 15 each year.


Deadline May 16, 2021

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Top prize

$5,000

Additional prizes

Distribution of book to Academy of American Poets members

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: FREE

Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize

Academy of American Poets

Established in 1975, this $25,000 award recognizes the most outstanding book of poetry published in the United States in the previous calendar year. The prize includes distribution of the winning book to hundreds of Academy of American Poets members.


Deadline May 16, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

$25,000

Additional prizes

Publication and distribution of book

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $75

Blue Lynx Prize for Poetry

Lynx House Press

The annual Blue Lynx Prize for Poetry awards $2000 plus publication for a full-length poetry collection. The Prize is awarded for an unpublished, full-length volume of poems by a U.S. author, which includes foreign nationals living and writing in the U.S. and U.S. citizens living abroad.


Deadline May 16, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

$2,000

Additional prizes

Publication

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $28

Flying South

Winston-Salem Writers

Each entry must be original work and previously unpublished. Simultaneous submissions will be accepted, but authors must notify Flying South immediately and withdraw from the contest if their work is accepted elsewhere. Prizes include publication in Flying South 2021, Best in Category, and President's Favorite.


Deadline May 31, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Publication in Flying South 2020

Genres

Fiction, Non-fiction, Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $25

Youth Writing Contest

The Vancouver Writers Fest

The Vancouver Writers Fest's annual youth writing contest is open to all students enrolled in grades 8-12 in British Columbia. Entries will be accepted for previously unpublished short stories (fiction or non-fiction) and personal essays: 1,500 word limit. The first-prize winner will receive a $200 cash prize and the second-prize winner, a $100 cash prize.


Deadline May 31, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

$200

Additional prizes

$100

Genres

Short Story, Essay, Fiction, Non-fiction,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $0

Discover the finest writing contests of 2021 for fiction and non-fiction authors — including short story competitions, essay writing competitions, poetry contests, and many more. Updated weekly, these contests are vetted by Reedsy to weed out the scammers and time-wasters. If you’re looking to stick to free writing contests, simply use our filters as you browse.

Why you should submit to writing contests

Submitting to poetry competitions and free writing contests in 2021 is absolutely worth your while as an aspiring author: just as your qualifications matter when you apply for a new job, a writing portfolio that boasts published works and award-winning pieces is a great way to give your writing career a boost. And not to mention the bonus of cash prizes!

That being said, we understand that taking part in writing contests can be tough for emerging writers. First, there’s the same affliction all writers face: lack of time or inspiration. Entering writing contests is a time commitment, and many people decide to forego this endeavor in order to work on their larger projects instead — like a full-length book. Second, for many writers, the chance of rejection is enough to steer them clear of writing contests. 

But we’re here to tell you that two of the great benefits of entering writing contests happen to be the same as those two reasons to avoid them.

When it comes to the time commitment: yes, you will need to expend time and effort in order to submit a quality piece of writing to competitions. That being said, having a hard deadline to meet is a great motivator for developing a solid writing routine.

Think of entering contests as a training session to become a writer who will need to meet deadlines in order to have a successful career. If there’s a contest you have your eye on, and the deadline is in one month, sit down and realistically plan how many words you’ll need to write per day in order to meet that due date — and don’t forget to also factor in the time you’ll need to edit your story!

For tips on setting up a realistic writing plan, check out this free, ten-day course: How to Build a Rock-Solid Writing Routine.

In regards to the fear of rejection, the truth is that any writer aspiring to become a published author needs to develop relatively thick skin. If one of your goals is to have a book traditionally published, you will absolutely need to learn how to deal with rejection, as traditional book deals are notoriously hard to score. If you’re an indie author, you will need to adopt the hardy determination required to slowly build up a readership.

The good news is that there’s a fairly simple trick for learning to deal with rejection: use it as a chance to explore how you might be able to improve your writing.

In an ideal world, each rejection from a publisher or contest would come with a detailed letter, offering construction feedback and pointing out specific tips for improvement. And while this is sometimes the case, it’s the exception and not the rule.

Still, you can use the writing contests you don’t win as a chance to provide yourself with this feedback. Take a look at the winning and shortlisted stories and highlight their strong suits: do they have fully realized characters, a knack for showing instead of telling, a well-developed but subtly conveyed theme, a particularly satisfying denouement?

The idea isn’t to replicate what makes those stories tick in your own writing. But most examples of excellent writing share a number of basic craft principles. Try and see if there are ways for you to translate those stories’ strong points into your own unique writing.

Finally, there are the more obvious benefits of entering writing contests: prize and publication. Not to mention the potential to build up your readership, connect with editors, and gain exposure.

Resources to help you win writing competitions in 2021

Every writing contest has its own set of submission rules. Whether those rules are dense or sparing, ensure that you follow them to a T. Disregarding the guidelines will not sway the judges’ opinion in your favor — and might disqualify you from the contest altogether. 

Aside from ensuring you follow the rules, here are a few resources that will help you perfect your submissions.

Free online courses

On Writing:

On Editing:

Blog posts

Bonus resources

After you submit to a writing competition in 2021

It’s exciting to send a piece of writing off to a contest. However, once the initial excitement wears off, you may be left waiting for a while. Some writing contests will contact all entrants after the judging period — whether or not they’ve won. Other writing competitions will only contact the winners. 

Here are a few things to keep in mind after you submit:

  • Many writing competitions don’t have time to respond to each entrant with feedback on their story. However, it never hurts to ask! Feel free to politely reach out requesting feedback — but wait until after the selection period is over.

  • If you’ve submitted the same work to more than one writing competition or literary magazine, remember to withdraw your submission if it ends up winning elsewhere.

  • After you send a submission, don’t follow it up with a rewritten or revised version. Instead, ensure that your first version is thoroughly proofread and edited. If not, wait until the next edition of the contest or submit the revised version to other writing contests.