Winning a writing contest is a great way to get the attention of publishers and agents — the money, publication and bragging rights are nice too. Most contests do charge entry fees — the fees are what enable many literary magazines to support their activities. You may want to give yourself an annual budget for contests and then consider which ones are likely to give you the most bang for your buck. Check out our other writing contest posts for more possibilities.
For all of our lists, we look for annual (or at least regularly occurring) contests that don’t charge an exorbitant fee and that are open to writers of all nationalities. If you don’t manage to enter this time, you can always aim for next year. All the contests on this list ask that you enter previously unpublished work only.
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).
Salamander 2020 Fiction Prize – Send in your stories of up to 30 double-spaced pages in 12 point font. First prize is $1,000 and all entries are considered for publication in Salamander Magazine. Reading fee: $15. Next deadline: 1 June 2020.
Boulevard Poetry Contest for Emerging Poets has been going since 2005. The magazine awards $1,000 and publication for the winning group of three poems by a poet who has not yet published a book of poetry with a nationally distributed press. All entries are considered for publication at Boulevard‘s normal rates. Entry fees include a year’s subscription. Reading fee: $16. Next deadline: 1 June 2020.
Montreal International Poetry Prize – This prize is also featured in our post on contests with huge cash prizes. Every other year it awards $20,000 CAD (approximately $15,000) and publication in the 2020 Global Poetry Anthology for a single poem. Send in your poems of up to 40 lines. Entry fee: $25 CAD (approximately €16) if after 1 May. Next deadline: 1 June 2020.
William Van Wert Memorial Fiction Award – Hidden River Review of Arts & Letters awards this annual prize of $1,000 for a short story or a novel excerpt. You can submit up to 25 pages of fiction (and a synopsis if submitting a novel excerpt). Entry fee: $17. Next deadline: 30 June 2020
Lascaux Review Prize in Flash Fiction annually awards $1,000 and publication in Lascaux Review for a work of flash fiction. You can submit up to three stories of no more than 1,000 words per entry fee. All entries are considered for publication. Entry Fee: $15. Next deadline: 30 June 2020.
The Moth International Short Story Prize – Our friends over at The Moth are better known for their massive €10K poetry prize but they also offer an annual fiction prize. You can submit one story of up to 5,000 words per entry fee. First prize is €3,000 and the first and second runners up receive a weeklong retreat at Circle of Missé in Missé, France, with a €250 travel stipend and a prize of €1,000, respectively. Entry fee: €15. Next deadline: 30 June 2020.
Rattle Poetry Prize – Rattle awards an annual prize of $15,000 for a single poem. The ten finalists are also eligible for the Reader’s Choice Award of $5,000. You can submit up to four poems of any length per entry fee. All entries are considered for publication. Entry fee: $25 (includes a subscription to Rattle). Next deadline: 15 July 2020.
Manchester Metropolitan University Poetry and Fiction Prizes – Two more from our list of contests with huge cash prizes. Each contest (one for poetry and one for fiction) awards a cash prize of £10,000 (~€11,300). Poets, submit three to five poems totalling no more than 120 lines (the prize is awarded for the best submission rather than a single poem). Fiction writers, submit a story of up to 2,500 words. Entry fee: £18. Next deadline: 18 September.