40 Free Writing Contests: Legitimate Competitions With Cash Prizes

Some genuine contests do charge little entry charges, however often a charge can be a red flag for a fraud, so those might be the ones you wish to stay away from..

We discovered 40 trusted, well-reviewed, free writing contests for poets, fiction authors, essayists and more. With thousands of dollars in cash rewards and numerous chances to secure a publishing agreement, youre sure to find the right totally free writing contest for your work.

Fiction and nonfiction writing contests 2021.

Here are some fiction and nonfiction writing contests worth thinking about.

Prepared to share your personal or novel essay with the world? Whether youre a beginner or more recognized writer, youre likely eligible for a few of these contests.

( And if youre still starving for more opportunities, we also have posts on authors grants and composing fellowships.).

Have you ever Googled “writing contests”? Numerous require “checking out fees” or prizes– like seeing your work in print– that you can just get if you pay for it.

There are plenty of complimentary writing contests that encourage and influence limitless creativity with genuine money rewards and career-advancing chances! Because it can be tough for an author to understand where to find them, we did the legwork for you.

1. L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Contest.

Deadlines: Quarterly on March 31, June 30 and September 30.

Whatever your feelings about L. Ron Hubbards work and philosophy, the rewards for this regular contest are nothing to sneeze at. Every 3 months, winners earn $1,000, $750 and $500, plus an additional annual grand reward of $5,000.

Submissions must be short stories or novelettes (up to 17,000 words) in the genre of science fiction or dream, and amateur and brand-new authors are welcome to apply.

2. Inkitt.

Disclosure: Inkitt is an advertising partner of The Write Life. We hold our advertisers to high requirements and vetted this contest just like others on this list..

This boutique publishing company offers prize money and marketing bundles to winning authors. Send a novel of 10,000 words or more in any fiction genre (no fanfic or poetry).

Inkitts writing contest runs monthly and provides authors the possibility to win prize money up to $300, exclusive book badges and promotional packages while showcasing their books to Inkitts audience of more than 3 million users. Winners are determined by Inkitts distinct algorithm based on overall reader engagement.

Due date: See individual contest pages.

3. Drue Heinz Literature Prize.

You can win $15,000 and publication by the University of Pittsburgh Press with this prize, granted for a collection of brief fiction.

You might submit an unpublished manuscript of short stories, two or more novellas or a combination of novellas and narratives. Your overall word count must be between 150 and 300 typed pages. You should also have actually currently published a unique or book-length work of fiction “with a respectable publisher,” or no fewer than 3 narratives or novellas in nationally-recognized journals.

Due date: Annual submissions must be postmarked in between May 1 through June 30.

4. St. Francis College Literary Prize.

Since 2009, this biennial literary award has actually honored mid-career authors who have actually just recently released their 3rd, fourth or 5th work of fiction. The winner gets $50,000 and may be invited to the St. Francis College school in Brooklyn, New York, to provide a discuss their work or teach a mini fiction workshop to St. Francis trainees.

Deadline: Biennially; the contest is not used in 2021 due to the minimal and pandemic school gain access to.

5. Young Lions Fiction Award.

This $10,000 award recognizes “young authors,” which the rules define as any author aged 35 or more youthful. Send any novel or collection of short stories published or arranged to be released in the calendar year. Functions should be written for adults; childrens or YA pieces are ineligible.

Due date: Submissions for 2021 are open since May 2021; due date is TBA.

6. Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prizes.

Among the best-loved vanity press in the creative writing world, Graywolf Press hosts a range of contests for both established and up-and-coming writers. Graywolf likewise offers smaller sized fiction and nonfiction rewards, with genres rotating by year; 2020 was a nonfiction year, so fiction is up in 2021. These awards include a substantial advance– $12,000 in previous years– in addition to publication with Graywolf.

Deadline: Contest is held annually with turning categories; the 2021 deadline is TBA.

7. The Jeff Sharlet Memorial Award for Veterans.

Hosted by the prestigious Iowa Review, the Jeff Sharlet Memorial Award is provided to U.S. active-duty members and military veterans composing in any category about any topic. Manuscripts of up to 20 pages will be accepted, and the first-prize winner will receive $1,000 and publication in the Review. A 2nd place reward of $750 is also offered, along with 3 runner-up rewards of $500 each.

Deadline: Biennially. The next contest will be kept in 2022.

8. New Voices Award.

. The winner gets $2,000 cash and a basic publication agreement, and an extra Honor Award winner will receive a money reward of $1,000. You might submit up to 2 manuscripts.

Due date: Submissions for 2021 will be accepted May 1 to July 31..

Provided by Lee & & Low Books, an award-winning kidss book publisher, this award is provided for a formerly unpublished kidss image book manuscript of no more than 1,500 words composed by an author of color or Indigenous/Native writers whos a resident of the U.S

9. Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence.

Deadline: Annually; the due date for 2021 is August 15, 2021.

For 15 years, this contest has actually supplied visibility for emerging African American fiction writers and enables them to concentrate on their writing by granting a $15,000 cash reward. Eligible authors must send a work of fiction, such as a brief or unique story collection, released in the calendar year. (Galleys for publication within the year are likewise accepted.).

10. PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction.

Honoring the best work of fiction released by an American author in a single calendar year, this award has actually been provided to the similarity John Updike, Philip Roth and Ann Patchett. Novels, novellas and collections of narratives are all eligible.

Deadline: The 2021 submissions are closed. In 2022, submissions will be accepted from July 1 to October 31.

The winner receives a significant money prize– as much as $15,000 in the past– and an invite to read at the award event in Washington, D.C. Plus, there are no submission costs or application to deal with; just send a PDF of each book (as numerous as you d like) to awards@penfaulkner.org.

11. PEN/Robert J. Dau Short Story Prize for Emerging Writers.

Deadline: Contest is open yearly in between June and November.

Narratives of as much as 12,000 words are eligible and need to be released in the fiscal year preceding the year in which the award is provided. Furthermore, keep this in mind: Submissions are only qualified if submitted by an editor. Authors may not send their own work.

This contest requires you to have currently released a brief story in a literary publication or journal or cultural site. If youve made your debut (however gone no additional), you might be eligible for the generous cash reward of $2,000, which is every year granted to 12 emerging writers, whose works are then published together in an anthology.

12. Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards.

Submissions need to be published in the prior year (so books published in 2020 are qualified for the 2021 award).

Fiction and nonfiction authors who have actually just recently released a book that “contribute [s] to our understanding of racism and our gratitude of cultural variety” are eligible for this award, which offers $10,000 money along with media and publicity opportunities. Plus, winners get their reward at an event in Cleveland.

Due date: Annual submission window is September 1 through December 31.

13. Marfield Prize (aka National Award for Arts Writing).

Deadline: Annually in the last quarter of the year; the 2021 deadline is November 16 to December 31.

Provided by the Arts Club of Washington, this award looks for to honor nonfiction books that handle the “visual, literary, media, or performing arts.” The prize is $10,000 and might be granted to works of criticism, art history, biographies and memoirs, and essays.

14. W.Y. Boyd Literary Award for Excellence in Military Fiction.

Deadline: Annually on December 1.

If youre a war enthusiast, this competition is for you. It awards $5,000– and a 24-karat-gold-framed citation of accomplishment– to the very best piece of fiction set throughout a period when the U.S. was at war (war may either be the main plot of the piece or just supply the setting). Submissions may be ya or adult novels.

15. Friends of American Writers Chicago Awards.

FAW presents 2 yearly awards: an Adult Literature Award for literary fiction or nonfiction, and a Young Peoples Literature Award for a kidss/ YA book.

Authors must reside in the state of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Nebraska, Ohio, South Dakota or Wisconsin– or they should set their book in among those locations. Prize quantities vary from year to year, but you do not have to trouble with an application and all winners are celebrated at the organizations May luncheon.

Deadline: Annually in December; the 2022 deadline is TBA.

16. Hektoen Grand Prix Essay Contest.

Deadline: Annually; September 15, 2021 is the most existing deadline.

Hektoen International, an online journal dedicated to medical liberal arts, uses two prizes every year for essays of no greater than 1,500 words: $5,000 is awarded to the winner and $2,500 to the first runner-up. Eligible subjects are broad so long as they have a relation to medication, and many include art, history, literature, education and more.

17. Biopage Storytelling Writing Contest.

Theres no denying it: social media is a big part of our 21st-century lives. Its simple to get utilized to restricting our interactions to 280-character and emoji-strewn snippets, which is why this marketing company is hosting an essay composing contest to “remind people of the advantages of writing.”.

Essays of up to 5,000 characters (approximately 1,000 words) will be accepted, and today theyre searching for stories of COVID-19 quarantine life. The grand reward winner will get $300, and five runners-up will be awarded $100 each.

Deadline: July 31, 2021.

The contest is totally free to get in, but youll need to register for a Biopage account to be qualified.

18. St. Martins Minotaur/ Mystery Writers of America First Crime Novel Competition.

Writers 18 and older who have never had an unique published (in any category) are qualified for this reward, awarded to an original book-length manuscript where “murder or another major criminal offense or crimes is at the heart of the story.” The winner receives a publication contract with Minotaur Books and an advance of $10,000 versus future royalties.

Due date: Annually in the very first quarter of the year; the deadline for 2022 is TBA..

19. ServiceScape Short Story Award.

ServiceScape, a platform matching freelance authors, editors and graphic designers with clients (i.e. a fantastic place to look for paid composing work!) provides a yearly Short Story Award of $1,000 to a winning fiction or nonfiction work of 5,000 words or fewer. The winner will also have their story featured on the ServiceScape blog site, which sees countless readers monthly.

Deadline: November 30, 2021.

20. Stowe Prize.

This biennial prize of $10,000 honors an American author whose adult fiction or nonfiction work has actually had an effect on a critical social justice issue (as did Harriet Beecher Stowes unique Uncle Toms Cabin).

Due date: Biennially; the 2022 deadline is TBA..

21. The Diana Woods Memorial Award in Creative Nonfiction.

Due dates: Biannual reading durations are in February for the Summer/Fall concern and in August for the Winter/Spring concern.

Creative nonfiction essays of no greater than 5,000 words on any topic are qualified 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.

Functions should not have actually been published elsewhere. Award winners are required to submit a 100-word bio, recent photo and a brief note thanking the Woods household for their kindness and support.

22. The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms Essay Contest.

Each year, this Canadian organization offers 3 prizes, varying from $500 to $1,500, to the essay with the most thoughtful, well-reasoned arguments around a particular human-rights theme. (For example, 2019s prompt was, “Should universities cops student habits at private events?”.

The contest is open to Canadian college and university students, and essays ought to be 2,500 words or less in length.

Deadline: 2021 contest standards and due date TBD.

23. Write the World.

For young writers ages 13-18, these cool contests also serve as mini workshops. Acknowledging that “an initial draft is never ever best,” submissions actually receive peer review by authors, composing teachers and other professionals and writers are offered the opportunity to modify their pieces based upon this feedback before sending them for last reward factor to consider.

Contests differ each month, however theres a $100 reward for the winner and $50 for the runner-up (plus $50 for the finest peer-reviewer). All three are featured on Write the Worlds blog alongside remarks from a visitor judge. And since each months prompt is from a various category, developing authors get a possibility to test out different styles.

Deadline: Monthly.

24. Prose.

Stuck with authors block and trying to find a way to jumpstart your escape? Prose uses weekly difficulties indicated to trigger your imagination; lots of are just for enjoyable, however search for the weekly numbered obstacles published by Prose (rather than community members or sponsors) for a possibility to win cash.

Prizes are normally in between $100 to $200 and word counts are low– some as low as under 150, some as high as 500. Even if all you get from the prompt is an opportunity to flex your brain, its not a bad deal.

Deadline: Weekly and month-to-month.

25. The Restless Books Prize For New Immigrant Writing.

Due date: Annually; the deadline for 2021 has passed. The 2022 submission deadline is TBA.

First-generation immigrants have a possibility to win $10,000 and publication by Restless Books for telling their stories (real or thought of). The contest rotates every year in between fiction (short or novel story collection) and nonfiction (narrative, essay collection, narrative nonfiction). In 2021, it will go to a work of nonfiction of a minimum of 25,000 words; 2022 will be fiction.

26. AFSA National High School Essay Contest.

The U.S. Institute of Peace and the American Foreign Service Association sponsor this yearly high school essay contest, where the winner gets a $2,500 cash reward, an all-expense paid journey to Washington, D.C., and a full-tuition paid trip with Semester at Sea upon the students registration at a certified university. Essays should be in between 1,000 and 1,250 words and need to respond to all elements of the timely in addition to show an understanding of the Foreign Service.

Runners-up get a quite sweet offer, too– a $1,250 cash prize and a complete scholarship to get involved in the International Diplomacy Program of the National Student Leadership Conference.

Due date: The 2021 due date has passed; the 2022 deadline is TBA.

27. Science-me a Story.

Deadline: The 2021 deadline has actually passed. The contest is normally open mid-February to mid-March.

Born in 2018, the Society of Spanish Researchers invites skilled and initial writers to write a 100-word blurb for a theoretical novel. This may sound really easy, however your blurb has to rapidly hook readers and make them wish to read more. Open to anybody over 18 throughout the world, your fictional or genuine narrative for this competitors need to be either in English or Spanish and “developed from the goal of scientific dissemination to main school” to get approved for the prize money: ₤ 150, ₤ 100 and ₤ 50..

28. VCU Cabell First Novelist Award.

Virginia Commonwealth University sponsors this award that honors an exceptional launching unique published in the preceding calendar year. While you might have published previous books in a different kind, the submission must be your very first published book marketed as a novel.

The award is a $5,000 prize money, and the winning author needs to accept go to the award occasion, normally scheduled for November.

Due date: Annually; the 2022 contest runs July 1 through December 20, 2021.

29. Daisy Utemorrah Award.

The Daisy Utemorrah Award is for an unpublished manuscript of junior or YA fiction written by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples currently living in Australia. Generously supported by the Copyright Agencys Cultural Fund and the State Government of Western Australia, the winner of the award receives $15,000 and a publishing agreement with Magabala Books.

Due date: The 2021 deadline has passed; 2022 due date TBD.

30. Ultimate Meal Plans Nutrition Scholarship.

Due dates: January 30 (awards in March) and July 31 (awards in September).

University student studying exercise-science, kinesiology or nutrition fields: youre going to be all over this one. Two times per year, the Ultimate Paleo Guide (aka the finest paleo resource on the web) awards $500 scholarships to 2 deserving trainees who fulfill all eligibility requirements– along with write an 800-word essay about why you picked your field, an impact you d like to make in your career, a challenge youve faced and more.

31. Insecure Writers Support Group Annual Anthology Contest.

The category? As long as you stick to these standards, The Insecure Writers Support Groups annual contest invites your 5,000- to 6,000-word (previously unpublished) innovative story. Before you send it off, make sure your story is polished and formatted!

Due dates: September 1, 2021.

32. Brief Fiction Prize.

One winner will get a $1,000 prize along with a scholarship to the 2022 Southampton Writers Conference.

Deadline: June 1, 2021.

If youre an undergrad at a college in the U.S. or Canada, this writing competitors is for you. (Traditionally, this contest has encouraged applicants with an Asian background, however anybody is welcomed to apply.) Submissions should disappear than 7,500 words.

33. Bacopa Literary Review Contest.

Curious about opportunities for poets? Your stanzas– rhyming or not– could be worth a fair quantity of money in these poetry competitors.

Deadline: May 31, 2021.

Poetry contests 2021.

Inspect out these poetry writing contests.

The Bacopa Literary Review is a global journal released by the Writers Alliance of Gainesville. Location gets $300, and the second reward in each of the four genres gets $100.

34. Black Voices in Childrens Literature Writing Contest.

This contest is open to Black authors who are over the age of 18 andresidents of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota or Wisconsin. Its hosted by Strive Publishing and Free Spirit Publishing and seeks to fill the need for Black representation in kidss and young adult books. Original board and image books for children aged 0-4 and photo books for ages 4-8 are eligible, offered they include contemporary, practical Black characters and culture and concentrate on character advancement, self-confidence, neighborhood and other aspects of positive childhood advancement.

3 prizes, varying from $250 to $1,000, will be awarded, and the top place winner will be “seriously considered” for publication, though its not guaranteed.

Deadline: September 20, 2021..

35. James Laughlin Award.

If youre currently a published poet, this is the award for you; its given for a 2nd book of poetry due to come out in the forthcoming year. The winner receives $5,000 and an all-expenses-paid week-long residency at The Betsy Hotel in Miami Beach, Florida. In addition, copies of the winning book are dispersed to 1,000 members of the Academy of American Poets.

Due date: Annual submission window is January 1 through May 15.

36. African Poetry Book Fund Prizes.

The APBF awards 3 prizes annually for African Poetry. The Luschei Prize for African Poetry gives $1,000 for a book of initial African poetry published in the prior year.

The Brunel International African Poetry Prize is a brand-new reward that grants ₤ 3,000 to a poet who was born in Africa, or has African moms and dads, who has not yet had a full-length book of poetry released. (U.S. residents certify.) To send, youll need 10 poems.

The Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets offers $1,000 and a publication agreement for a book-length collection of poetry by an as-yet-unpublished African author.

Deadlines: See individual prize pages.

37. Tufts Poetry Awards.

Due date: 2021 due dates not yet announced.

Claremont Graduate University provides 2 awards each year to poets they consider to be “exceptional.” The Kate Tufts Poetry Award grants $10,000 for a published first book of poetry that shows guarantee.

The Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award grants a mammoth $100,000 for a released book of poetry by a recognized or mid-career poet.

38. Graywolf Press Walt Whitman Award.

Deadline: Submissions for 2021 have actually passed; 2022 submission deadline TBD.

The Walt Whitman Award is a $5,000 prize granted, in addition to publication, to an American poet with a winning very first book manuscript. She or he also gets an all-expenses-paid six-week residency at the Civitella Ranieri Center in Umbria, Italy.

Graywolf Press is likewise one of the publishers of the Cave Canem Poetry Prize, “a first book award committed to the discovery of remarkable manuscripts by Black poets.” Winners get $1,000 and Graywolf releases every third winner of the reward.

39. Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest.

Now in its 21st year, this humor contest wants your best released or unpublished work for a grand reward of $2,000; runners-up are awarded $500 and 10 honorable discusses will receive $100 each. Writers of any ages from eligible nations can send an original, amusing poem with 250 lines or less, and it needs to be an English.

Due date: April 1, 2022.

40. The Alpine Fellowship Writing Prize.

Deadline: Applications for 2021 have actually closed. Follow the Alpine Fellowship on Instagram for updates.

A variety of the contests discovered on our list came highly recommended by this site, which compiles a few of the very best free literary contests out there. Along with a wide variety of recommended contests for authors of all stripes, Winning Writers likewise lists some services and contests to avoid– which is simply as useful!

Looking for more opportunities to submit your work? Here are a few great sites to keep an eye on for composing contests.

Where to find more legitimate, complimentary writing contests.

This composing competition is looking for the finest piece of unpublished themed writing. The winner gets a ₤ 10,000 money reward, second location gets ₤ 3,000 and 3rd place gets ₤ 2,000.

They also provide a handful of contests themselves, consisting of the North Street Book Prize.

Winning Writers.

Poets & & Writers

Because 2014, Reedsy has actually constructed a network of world-class publishing professionals and helped produce more than 10,000 books. An environment for authors and publishing specialists, Reedsy prides itself on supplying assistance at every stage of your publishing journey– it even curates writing contests..

Today, for circumstances, The Narrative Prize will award $4,000 to an author with the very best brief story, novel excerpt, poem, one-act play, graphic story or work of literary nonfiction released by a brand-new or emerging writer in Narrative. (Deadline for that is June 15.).


. Another wonderful source for legitimate composing contests we sought advice from when compiling this list, Poets & & Writers veterinarians competitions, contests, grants and awards to make sure theyre following legitimate practices and policies. Its worth taking a look at routinely as it features both one-time and annual contests.

Dont forget to set your filter appropriately to discover all the contests with fee-free entries!

The initial version of this story was written by Kelly Gurnett. We updated the post so its more helpful for our readers..

Hosted by the prominent Iowa Review, the Jeff Sharlet Memorial Award is used to U.S. active-duty members and military veterans writing in any category about any subject. Provided by Lee & & Low Books, an acclaimed kidss book publisher, this award is offered for a formerly unpublished kidss picture book manuscript of no more than 1,500 words written by an author of color or Indigenous/Native writers whos a homeowner of the U.S

About the Author: Farrah Daniel.
Farrah Daniel has been composing expertly for three years, meddling subjects like finance, micromobility, travel and more. After leaving The Penny Hoarder in 2019, Farrah pursued a freelance profession, where she now produces and manages material for small companies and nonprofits. Have a look at more of her work at farrahdominique.com.

Photo by means of Viktoriia Hnatiuk/ Shutterstock.

( This listing contains affiliate links. That implies if you acquire through our links, youre supporting The Write Life– and we thank you for that!).

. The winner gets $2,000 cash and a standard publication agreement, and an extra Honor Award winner will get a cash reward of $1,000. For 15 years, this contest has actually supplied visibility for emerging African American fiction authors and allows them to focus on their writing by awarding a $15,000 cash reward. Another great source for genuine writing contests we sought advice from when compiling this list, Poets & & Writers veterinarians competitions, awards, grants and contests to make sure theyre following genuine practices and policies.

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