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TWFest Poetry Contest

Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival

Submit a collection of 2-4 original, unpublished poems of any style or theme, written in English, with a combined length of up to 400 lines. This contest is open only to emerging writers who have not yet published a book of poetry with an ISBN. Those who have published books in other genres besides poetry remain eligible.


Deadline October 16, 2021 (Expired)

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Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

VIP all-access pass to the next festival, where you will give a public reading

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $15

TWFest Very Short Fiction Contest

Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival

A submission is one original short story, written in English, up to 1,000 words. This contest is open only to emerging writers who have not yet published a book of short fiction with an ISBN.


Deadline October 16, 2021 (Expired)

Learn more
Top prize

$500

Additional prizes

VIP all-access pass to the next festival, where you will give a public reading.

Genres

Fiction, Flash Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $10

Lazuli Literary Group Writing Contest

Lazuli Literary Group

We are not concerned with genre distinctions. Send us the best you have; we want only for it to be thoughtful, intelligent, and beautiful. We want art that grows in complexity upon each visitation; we enjoy ornate, cerebral, and voluptuous phrases executed with thematic intent.


Deadline October 21, 2021

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Top prize

$500

Additional prizes

Publication in "AZURE: A Journal of Literary Thought"

Genres

Essay, Fiction, Poetry, Short Story, Flash Fiction, Non-fiction, Novella, Script Writing,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $15

Quill Prose Award 2020

Red Hen Press

Queer literature is often found in the side stacks, in the back of the bookstore, under “Gay and Lesbian.” These authors are put into a genre that barely fits them, excluded from mainstream funding, and more. Red Hen Press seeks to work against the politics of labeling while honoring and empowering authors who identify as queer through this contest.


Deadline October 30, 2021

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Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Publication by Red Hen Press

Genres

Fiction, Novel,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $10

F(r)iction Short Story Contest

F(r)iction

We seek work that actively pushes boundaries, that forces us to question traditions and tastes. If your work takes risks, we want to read it. We like strong narratives that make us feel something and stories we haven’t seen before. Each entry should be between 1,001 and 7,500 words.


Deadline October 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 seek work that actively pushes boundaries, that forces us to question traditions and tastes. If your work takes risks, we want to read it. You may submit up to three entires for $12. A single entry is $10. Each entry can be up to 1,000 words long.


Deadline October 30, 2021

Learn more
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

We seek work that actively pushes boundaries, that forces us to question traditions and tastes. If your work takes risks, we want to read it. You may submit up to three entries for $12. A single entry is $10. Each poem can be up to three pages.


Deadline October 30, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

$300

Additional prizes

Considered for publication in F(r)iction

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $10

The Tamaqua Award for a Collection of Essays

Hidden River Arts

Hidden River Arts offers an award of $1,000 and publication by Hidden River Press, an imprint of Hidden River Publishing, for an original collection of essays. Previous publication of individual essays is acceptable, as long as you include the list of the published essays, the journals and magazines where they appeared, and authorize that the publication rights have reverted to you, as author.


Deadline October 31, 2021

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Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Publication by Hidden River Arts

Genres

Essay, Non-fiction,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $20

Benjamin Saltman Poetry Award

Red Hen Press

Established in 1998, in honor of the poet Benjamin Saltman (1927–1999), this award is for a previously unpublished original collection of poetry. The awarded collection is selected through an annual competition that is open to all poets.


Deadline October 31, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

$3,000

Additional prizes

Book publication by Red Hen Press, a four-week PLAYA residency

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $25

Cranked Anvil Short Story Competition

Cranked Anvil Press

Our quarterly short story competition is open for entries all year round. The competition is open to any theme or genre, but your story must be a maximum of 1,500 words (not including the title). You can enter up to three stories in each quarterly competition.


Deadline October 31, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

£150

Additional prizes

£75 for 2nd, £30 for 3rd

Genres

Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $7

Fiction Factory Short Story Competition

Fiction Factory

This is a bi-annual competition. We welcome stories on any theme. The maximum wordcount is 3,000.


Deadline October 31, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

£300

Additional prizes

£100, £50

Genres

Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $8

Annual Novel Opening Competition

Flash 500

We are looking for an opening chapter up to 3,000 words, plus a one page synopsis outlining the balance of your story of any genre, so long as it's unpublished.


Deadline October 31, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

$610

Additional prizes

Genres

Fiction, Novel,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $13

The Larry Brown Short Story Award

Pithead Chapel

We’re pleased to announce the sixth annual Larry Brown Short Story Award. The winners will receive the following prizes: 1st $500 USD, 2nd $50 USD, 3rd $50 USD, and 4th and 5th will receive a copy of the book Tiny Love: The Complete Stories by Larry Brown. Each prize winner will be published in the January 2022 issue of Pithead Chapel.


Deadline October 31, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

$500

Additional prizes

Genres

Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $10

Anthology Poetry Award

Anthology Magazine

Entries are now invited for the Anthology Poetry Award. Established to recognise and encourage excellence in the craft of poetry writing and to provide a platform for publication, it is open to original and previously unpublished poems in the English language. Poems submitted must be on the theme of ‘Freedom’ and should not exceed 40 lines.


Deadline October 31, 2021

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Top prize

$500

Additional prizes

Publication in Anthology Magazine, one-year subscription

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $15

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 October 31, 2021

Learn more
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

Annual Short Story Contest

Rotary Club of Stratford

English language submissions of original, unpublished works of up to 2,500 words will be accepted until October 31. Submissions are processed by a two-tiered system of readers and judges. Winners will be announced on December 10, 2021.


Deadline October 31, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

$500 (CAD)

Additional prizes

2nd prize $250, 3rd prize $100.

Genres

Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $0

Justice Centre Essay Contest

Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms asks Canadian students to answer (in 1000-2500 words) the following question: Should citizens who refuse to get vaccinated have the same rights and freedoms as those who do get vaccinated? This contest is open to all Canadian youth who will be between the age of 15–24 on the date they submit their essay.


Deadline October 31, 2021

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Top prize

$2,000

Additional prizes

$1000 for 2nd, $500 for 3rd

Genres

Essay, Non-fiction,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: FREE

Black River Chapbook Competition

Black Lawrence Press

Twice each year Black Lawrence Press run the Black River Chapbook Competition for an unpublished chapbook of poems or prose between 16-36 pages in length. The contest is open to new, emerging, and established writers.


Deadline October 31, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

$500

Additional prizes

Publication by Black Lawrence Press

Genres

Poetry, Short Story, Fiction,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $15

Dillydoun International Fiction Prize

The Dillydoun Review

International fiction contest open to all genres, themes, and subjects. 8,000 word max / no minimum. Short story, flash fiction, self-contained excerpts from longer works welcome. Entries must be written in English.


Deadline October 31, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

$2,000

Additional prizes

2nd $1,000, 3rd $500, Honorable Mention $50, Publication in Print Anthology

Genres

Fiction, Flash Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $25

Gabriele Rico Challenge for Nonfiction

Reed Magazine

The Gabriele Rico Challenge for Nonfiction recognizes outstanding works of nonfiction. We are looking for creative nonfiction, such as personal essays or narratives, not scholarly papers or book reviews. All works should be stand-alone essays, not chapters of a longer work. Please limit prose submissions to 5,000 words.


Deadline November 01, 2021

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Top prize

$1,333

Additional prizes

Genres

Non-fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $20

Edwin Markham Prize for Poetry

Reed Magazine

The Edwin Markham Prize honors outstanding works of poetry. Our taste is eclectic and celebrates the wonderful diversity of forms, styles, and levels of diction available to the contemporary poet. Writers may submit up to five (5) poems per submission.


Deadline November 01, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $20

Caledonia Novel Award

Caledonia Novel Award

We are an Edinburgh-based, international award for unpublished and self-published novelists in all genres for adults and YA.


Deadline November 01, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

£1, 500

Additional prizes

Free place on a writing course at Moniack Mhor Creative Writing Centre

Genres

Crime, Fantasy, Fiction, Horror, Humor, Mystery, Novel, Science Fiction, Thriller, Young Adult,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $35

Catherine Doctorow Innovative Fiction Prize

Fiction Collective 2

The FC2 Catherine Doctorow Innovative Fiction Prize is open to any writer in English with at least three books of fiction published. Submissions may include a collection of short stories, one or more novellas, or a novel of any length.


Deadline November 01, 2021

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Top prize

$15,000

Additional prizes

Genres

Fiction, Novel, Novella, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $25

John Steinbeck Award for Fiction

Reed Magazine

Awarding one of the richest purses among literary magazines—$1,000 for the winning story—the John Steinbeck Award for Fiction recognizes exceptional works of fiction. Aesthetically, we are open to most styles and approaches. All works should be stand-alone short stories, not chapters of a longer work. Please limit prose submissions to 5,000 words.


Deadline November 01, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Genres

Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $20

Ronald Sukenick Innovative Fiction Contest

Fiction Collective Two

The FC2 Ronald Sukenick Innovative Fiction Contest is open to any writer in English who has not previously published with FC2. Submissions may include a collection of short stories, one or more novellas, or a novel of any length. There is no length requirement. Works that have previously appeared in magazines or in anthologies may be included.


Deadline November 01, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

$1,500

Additional prizes

Publication by FC2

Genres

Fiction, Novel, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $25

Brick Road Poetry Book Contest

Brick Road Poetry Press

The first place winner receives a publication contract with Brick Road Poetry Press and $1000 prize, publication in both print and ebook formats, and 25 copies of the printed book. We may also offer publication contracts to the top finalists.


Deadline November 01, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Publication contract with Brick Road Poetry Press

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $30

Writer's Digest Poetry Awards

Writer's Digest

Calling all poets! We’re on the look out for poems of all styles–rhyming, free verse, haiku, and more for the Annual Writer’s Digest Poetry Awards! This is the only Writer’s Digest competition exclusively for poets. Enter any poem 32 lines or less for your chance to win $1,000 in cash.


Deadline November 01, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Publication in Writer's Digest

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $25

7 Day Story Writing Challenge

Globe Soup

Register now for our next 7-day story writing challenge. A secret theme, a randomly assigned genre and just 7 days to write a story of no more than 2,000 words. Our 7 day story writing challenges take place throughout the year. The challenges are free and you can even get feedback on your story. Take part in one challenge or take part in all of them!


Deadline November 08, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

£500

Additional prizes

Genres

Fiction, Flash Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $0

Annual Contest Submissions

So to Speak Journal

So to Speak seeks work by writers who want to challenge and change the identity of the “canonical” writer. Our mission is to amplify voices of BIPOC, people with disabilities, LGBTQ+ people, women, neurodivergent people, people of different religions or none, migrants, refugees & immigrants (regardless of citizenship), and incarcerated writers. Free submissions for Black and Indigenous Writers.


Deadline November 14, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

$500

Additional prizes

Publication for winner and runner-up

Genres

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

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $9

Saudi Historical Short Story Award

Historical Novel Society

Inaugural Saudi Historical Short Story Award. Entries must have historical Saudi themes or characters. Please read full guidelines.


Deadline November 15, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

£10,000

Additional prizes

5 runners up prizes of £1,000

Genres

Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $14

Etched Onyx and the Story Discovery Podcast

Onyx Publications

Submitted works must be previously unpublished fiction, nonfiction, poetry or flash fiction. We are open to all styles, genres, and types of writing. We suggest you checkout our free archived editions to get a sense of what we publish. All stories published in the magazine also include a narration of the story and an author interview on our podcast. **Early Bird deadline 8th October, reduced fee of $7.50**


Deadline November 26, 2021

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Top prize

$350

Additional prizes

Publication in Etched Onyx On-line magazine

Genres

Crime, Fantasy, Fiction, Flash Fiction, Horror, Humor, Mystery, Non-fiction, Poetry, Science Fiction, Short Story, Thriller,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $11

Cranked Anvil Flash Fiction Competition

Cranked Anvil Press

Our quarterly flash fiction competition is open for entries all year round. The competition is open to any theme or genre, and your story must be a maximum of 500 words (not including the title). You can enter up to two stories in each quarterly competition.


Deadline November 30, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

£100

Additional prizes

£25, publication online

Genres

Fiction, Flash Fiction,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $4

The Bath Children’s Novel Award

The Bath Novel Awards

The Bath Children’s Novel Award is an annual international prize for emerging novelists writing for children or teens. Submissions are the first 5,000 words plus one page synopsis. A children’s literary agent will judge the winning manuscript from a shortlist chosen by Junior Judges aged seven to seventeen.


Deadline November 30, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

£3000

Additional prizes

Manuscript feedback from junior judges, literary agent introductions, novel editing course

Genres

Fiction, Novel, Young Adult,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $36

Fiction Factory Flash Fiction

Fiction Factory

We welcome previously unpublished stories (max 1,000 words) on any theme. Our judge is looking for freshness, originality and strongly drawn characters.


Deadline November 30, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

£200

Additional prizes

£50, £25

Genres

Fiction, Flash Fiction, Crime, Horror, Humor, Mystery, Science Fiction, Thriller,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $7

Fish Short Story Prize

Fish Publishing

The Fish Short Story Prize was started in 1994, and has become an established event on the literary calendar. This year’s judge is Sarah Hall. Her critically acclaimed second novel, The Electric Michelangelo, was nominated for the 2004 Man Booker Prize. Sarah will select 10 short stories to be published in the Fish Anthology 2022, which will be launched during the West Cork Literary Festival.


Deadline November 30, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

€3,000

Additional prizes

5 day Short Story Workshop at the West Cork Literary Festival

Genres

Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $23

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.