Writing contests can be a great way to get more exposure for your work. Yes, there are usually submissions fees (some writers we know give themselves an annual budget for contests) but contest fees are what enable many literary magazines to keep publishing.
For our list, we looked for annual contests that don’t charge an exorbitant fee and that are open to writers of all nationalities. All are looking for previously unpublished writing. If you don’t manage to enter this time, you can always aim for next year. For contests with deadlines in August, September and October see our previous post.
We are not affiliated with any of the contests listed. For more information and to enter, please see the contest website (click on the green link).
The Fish Short Story Prize – annually awards a prize of €3,000 for a short story (maximum 5000 words). Winners also receive publication in the annual Fish Publishing anthology and an invitation to a five-day short story workshop and reading at the West Cork Literary Festival in July 2020. The judge this year is Colum McCann. Entry Fee: €20 (€10 subsequent entries). Next deadline: 30 November 2019
Jeff Marks Memorial Poetry Prize – december magazine annually awards a prize of $1,500 and publication for a single poem. All entries are considered for publication. The judge this year is Aimee Nezhukumatathil. Entry fee: $20 (up to 3 poems per entry and includes a copy of the prize issue of december). Next deadline: 1 December 2019
Hamlin Garland Award for the Short Story – Beloit Fiction Journal annually awards a prize of $2000 and publication for a short story of up to 7000 words. All entries are considered for publication. Entry fee: $20. Next deadline: 10 December 2019
Sunday Times Audible Short Story Award – (also featured in our list of writing contests with huge cash prizes) is the richest prize for a single short story in the English language, worth £30,000 to the winner. The award, for a story of 6,000 words or less, is open to any novelist or short story writer from around the world who has been published in the UK or Ireland. No entry fee! Next deadline: 13 December 2019.
Amsterdam Open Book Prize – our friends over at Versal are launching a new international prize. Submit your chapbook-length to full book manuscripts in any genre of between 25 and 80 pages. They love hybrid, experimental, and collaborative works. The winning manuscript will be the first title of the new Versal Editions, Amsterdam’s community-centered publisher and curator. Entry fee: €20 (€15 for Netherlands residents). Next deadline: 15 December 2019.
Virginia Woolf Award for Short Fiction – LitMag annually awards a first prize of $3,500 and publication in the magazine for a story of between 3000 to 8000 words. Sobel Weber Associates literary agency will review the winning entries for possible representation. All entries will be considered for publication. Entry fee: $20. Next deadline: 15 December 2019
The Moth Poetry Prize – (also featured in our list of writing contests with huge cash prizes) annually awards €10,000 (with 3 runner-up prizes of €1000 each) and publication for a single poem. You can submit as many poems as you like, but the entry fee ( €15) is per poem. The judge this year is one of our favourite poets, Claudia Rankin. Next deadline: 31 December 2019
Boulevard Short Fiction Contest for Emerging Writers – annually awards $1,500 and publication in Boulevard magazine for a short story of up to 8000 words. The contest is only open to writers who have not yet published a book of fiction, poetry, or creative non-fiction with a nationally distributed press. Entry fee: $16 (includes a one-year subscription to Boulevard). Next deadline: 31 December 2019.
River Styx Microfiction Prize – The River Styx magazine annually awards $1,500 for a story of 500 words or fewer. All stories will be considered for publication. You can submit up to 3 stories per $15 entry fee and you’ll receive a copy of the issue in which the winning story is published (for $20 you’ll receive a year’s subscription to the magazine). Next deadline: 31 December 2019.
The Mogford Prize – (also featured in our list of writing contests with huge cash prizes) sponsored by restaurateur Jeremy Mogford, the prize annually awards £10,000 for a single short story. Your story must be a maximum of 2500 words and food and/or drink must play a prominent role, for example, your story could feature “a chance meeting over a drink; a life-changing conversation over dinner; or perhaps the details of a relationship explored through food or drink”. The judges this year are Stephen Fry and Prue Leith. Entry fee: £10, Next deadline: 13 January 2020.