25 Nov Why You Should Enter Author Competitions
Writing competitions! They might seem like a distraction from your ‘actual writing’, you know the real kind that results in a published book. But writing competitions for authors can have many benefits.
- You will be writing to a brief and a deadline, so it helps you get into the mindset of treating writing like a job or at least a part-time job where you put in regular time and effort to it. And really, being an author is a business so if you invest that time and energy just as you would any side-hustle you are passionate about then it can really pay off.
- Writing for competitions can help hone your writing skills as you sometimes will get feedback but something you can do is the writing community for feedback. As these tend to be shorter pieces, more are likely to offer critique and if you do it regularly you can really develop as a writer.
- One huge thing that I tell every single one of my clients is that having a portfolio of writing competition wins, author awards, and published work in writing magazines is a huge deal! It creates an established online presence which can help build your target audience but it can also help you hook a publishing agent if you have a great manuscript too. Having a proven track record and a portfolio is like having a strong resume showcasing your experience!
- You will learn to self-edit, proofread, polish, and do some simple formatting for your writing which is great as you’re going to need to do all that when you finish your manuscript!
- Some competitions and writing events have brilliant author communities. Some connect authors in Facebook groups or using hashtags on Twitter and Instagram. During NaNoWriMo in November every year, authors around the world connect particularly on Twitter using the relevant hashtags and support one another to write a novel within 30 days and some of those who mark off some of the milestones get chosen for big prizes.
- Some competitions have cash prizes which means you can put some of that cash away for either 1. self-editing expenses such as editing and a great book cover or 2. going to pitching events or paying for a session with a publishing agent to get feedback on your submission query.
Regardless, of how little time you may think you have try to make time to write some short stories or even flash fiction and pitch throughout the year. Look up what competition deadlines are coming up over the next twelve months and mark a few in your calendar so you can prepare well in advance. It will be worth it!
Written by Kirsten Rees
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We are also compiling a huge list of writing competitions open to authors which will be available as part of a very special product launching in early 2022. But in the meantime, here is a list of 50+ author competitions:
Please note, all dates are from previous entry dates in 2019/2020. During lockdown, many events have been postponed, cancelled, gone virtual and so dates may vary. A new list is being created for 2022.
Please check dates well in advance yourself before working on an entry submission so you do not risk missing a deadline!
Click the title to go the relevant sites for more information. Please double check each deadline date on the relevant website in case of error or change. As with anything, please use due diligence before sending any writing or paying fees to anyone or any platform.
Top Prize: Publication, a free book from Press 53 | Categories: Short Story Fiction | Deadline: first day of each month to deadline on 21st day of each month
Each month Prime Number Magazine invites writers to submit a 53-word story based on a prompt. Sponsored by Prime Number Magazine.
Top Prize: $5,000, an all-expenses-paid weeklong residency at The Betsy Hotel in Miami Beach, Florida, and distribution of the winning book to approximately one thousand Academy of American Poets members | Deadline: accepted yearly between January 1 and May 15
Offered since 1954, the James Laughlin Award is given to recognize and support a second book of poetry forthcoming in the next calendar year. Sponsored by The Academy of American Poets
Top Prize: £10,000, an engraved award, publication on our website and in a linen-bound mini publication available in The Oxford Collection of hotels, a professional audio recording of their story produced by The Story Player uploaded onto the Mogford prizes website. | Categories: food and drink | Deadline: 12th January 2022
Food and drink must be at the heart of the winning tale. Your short story could, for instance, be about crime or intrigue; about a chance meeting over a drink; a life-changing conversation over dinner; or perhaps the details of a relationship explored through food or drink.
Top Prize: ? | Categories: Works of fiction | Deadline: 31 January 2022 | Fee: $50
The Stanford Libraries and the William Saroyan Foundation jointly award the William Saroyan International Prize for Writing, a biennial competition for newly-published books.
The prize commemorates the life, legacy and intentions of William Saroyan – author, artist, dramatist, composer – and is intended to encourage new or emerging writers, rather than to recognize established literary figures.
Top Prize: £1,000 | Categories: Poem | Deadline: January | Fee: £4 – £5
Run each year by the Kent & Sussex Poetry Society, this competition offers a top prize of £1,000 and several runner-up prizes. Poems can be in any form or style but must be previously-unpublished and under forty lines in length. Postal and online entries are accepted.
Top Prize: £10,000 | Categories: Short Story | Deadline: 12th January 2022 | Fee: £10
This annual prize is open worldwide. Sponsored by the Mogford Hotels And Restaurants Group, it seeks to reward the writer of an unpublished short story not longer than 2,500 words which revolves in some way around food. The winner is announced at an annual prize-giving event.
Top Prize: $100-$1500 | Categories: over 70 | Deadline: February 11, 2022| Fee: $75
Next Generation Indie Book Awards, the most exciting and rewarding book awards program open to independent publishers and authors worldwide who have a book written in English and released in 2020, 2021 or 2022 or with a 2020, 2021 or 2022 copyright date.
Top Prize: £25-£150 | Categories: All types | Deadline: 31st October 2021 | Fee: £6
Winning stories will be published on this website and, at a later date, will be included in a planned anthology. The competition is UK based but International entries are welcome!
Top Prize: Arvon Residential Writing Course | Categories: Short Story | Deadline: 11th February 2022| Fee: None
A free-to-enter short story competition, with a first prize which includes a place on an Arvon Residential Writing Course (valued at approximately £1,000) and online publication. Entries must be original, aimed at adults, and no longer that 2,000 words in length.
Top Prize: £1500/Arvon Course/Mentoring | Categories: Life Writing | Deadline: February | Fee: None
The Prize aims to find the best life writing from emerging writers from across the UK. The Prize defines life writing as “intended to be true”, reflects someone’s own life journey or experiences and is not fiction.
Top Prize: £1000 | Categories: Flash | Deadline: February/June/October | Fee: £9
The goal of this contest is to promote flash fiction for both writers and readers, and to bring the genre to a wider audience. Running three times a year, it has substantial prizes and the chance of publication for winning writers. There is also a novella-in-flash award.
Top Prize: £3,000 | Categories: Short Story/Poem | Deadline: March | Fee: None
Awarded for the best piece of previously-unpublished writing on the topic of ‘Our Wilderness and Civilization’ – the theme of the 2021 Alpine Fellowship Annual Symposium. In addition to the main prize, the winner and two runners up will be invited to attend the symposium in Venice.
Top Prize: £500 | Categories: Poem | Deadline: March | Fee: £5
The first Welsh Poetry Competition was set up by poet & writer Dave Lewis in 2007. Officially launched on St David’s Day, the aim was to encourage and foster the wealth of creative writing talent that existed in Wales but at the time languished in the doldrums. The aim remains to inspire people to capture life in the present day and to give a voice to a new generation of poets and writers.
Top Prize: £2,500 | Categories: Short Story | Deadline: April | Fee: £15
This annual short story competition is aimed at emerging writers. It awards £2,500 to the best piece of short fiction by a writer resident in the UK and Ireland who has yet to secure a publishing deal. “The judges will be looking for short stories that explore and expand the possibilities of the form. We encourage submissions from all literary genres, and there are no restrictions on theme or subject matter.
Top Prize: £10,000/15,000 |Categories: Novel/Manuscript | Deadline: March | Fee: £39/49
A competition for fictional adventure writing. The prize is split into two separate categories – an award for the best published adventure novel and an award for the best unpublished manuscript by a debut author. Consult the website for details of exactly what adventure writing is, and past winners.
Top Prize: £15,000 | Categories: Short Story | Deadline: March | Fee: None
One of the most significant short story competitions in the UK, this prize is awarded yearly by the BBC. Entrants must have a prior record of publishing creative work in the UK. Stories up to 8,000 words are accepted and may be submitted by the author or by their agent. Shortlisted stories are awarded a prize of £600.
Top Prize: £10,000 | Categories: Collection/Poem | Deadline: March | Fee: None
The largest annual poetry competition in the UK, this prize rewards the best collection, best first collection, and best single poem in the UK each year. All works put forward for the prize will also be considered for publication in The Forward Book of Poetry, a yearly anthology. Entries must be published works, and individual poets cannot enter their own work.
Top Prize: £2000 | Categories: no limits on the type| Deadline: 31st March 2022 | Fee: £37/$60
The Rubery Prize is a prestigious international book award seeking the best books by indie writers, self-published authors and books published by independent presses, judged by reputable judges. Creative writing is such a key part of life for those who enjoy writing yet it is increasingly difficult to become traditionally published. Through our reputation of finding quality and outstanding books we aim to bring recognition to the works that win and heighten an author’s profile.
Top Prize: First: $200, Second: $100, Third: $50 | Categories: no limits on the type| Deadline: April
Description: This annual contest seeks science fiction, fantasy, and horror short stories from non-professional writers. Sponsored by Parsec, Inc.
Top Prize: £1,200 | Categories: Short Story | Deadline: April | Fee: £9
An international competition that welcomes stories of up to 2,200 words on any theme or subject. Stories must be previously unpublished. The prizes available are £1,200 for 1st place, £300 for 2nd place, and £100 for 3rd place, as well as a special award for the best story by a writer who does not yet have any publications.
Top Prize: £5,000 | Categories: Short Story/Flash/Poem | Deadline: May | Fee: £7 – £8
A prestigious annual competition with different strands for short stories, flash fiction and poetry. As well as the first-place prize money there are several supplementary awards, including one for writers based in Dorset. Selected stories are published in an anthology.
Top Prize: £1,000 | Categories: Short Story | Deadline: May | Fee: £8
This prize, run by Brick Lane Bookshop, is open to all UK residents for original short stories between 1,000 and 5,000 words. Its aim is to celebrate short stories and to give emerging writers encouragement and a little financial space to write. Winners are published in an anthology in addition to receiving prize money.
Top Prize: £1,000 | Categories: Short Story | Deadline: May | Fee: £8
An international short story competition opened to published and unpublished writers anywhere in the world. In addition to the main prize, all shortlisted writers are published in an anthology distributed by Tangent Books and receive £100 in prize money. Stories must be under 4,000 words in length.
Top Prize: £5,000 | Categories: Short Story | Deadline: May | Fee: None
A competition run by Commonwealth Writers, designed to reward and promote the best new writing from across the Commonwealth. Prizes are awarded for the best stories overall, as well as the best stories from a given region. Stories must be 2,000 – 5,000 words in length and previously unpublished.
Top Prize: £500/Feedback | Categories: Short Story/Poem | Deadline: June | Fee: £9
The winners, in each category, will receive a cash prize of £500, feedback on a piece of work of their choice from a leading literary agent (or editor as appropriate) and a year’s free membership to the Society of Authors, which includes access to advice and resources on all aspects of the business of writing.
Top Prize: £2,500 | Categories: Novel | Deadline: June | Fee: £25
An award for unpublished or independently-published novelists. Send along the first 5,000 words of a manuscript of a minimum of 50,000 words in length. A large percentage of shortlisted novelists have gone on to secure a publishing deal. There is a separate competition strand for children’s novels.
Top Prize: £500 | Categories: Poetry | Deadline: June | Fee: £4.5
A poetry competition attached to Manchester Cathedral. Winners and seven runners-up will be invited to read their poetry at the Manchester Literature Festival event in October.
Top Prize: $4,000 | Categories: Various | Deadline: 15th June
Awarded annually for the best short story, novel excerpt, poem, one-act play, graphic story, or work of literary nonfiction published by a new or emerging writer in Narrative.
Top Prize: £300 | Categories: Short Story/Poem/Memoir | Deadline: July | Fee: £5 – £6
This prize is administered by British literary magazine Wasifiri, in which the winners of each category are published. The competition is open to anyone worldwide who has not published a complete book in their chosen category.
Top Prize: £30,000 | Categories: Novel/Short Story | Deadline: July | Fee: None
A series of book and short story awards for authors from the UK and Ireland (previously known as the Whitbread Book Awards). One of the only UK awards open to children’s books as well as adult. The short story strand is narrowed down by judges and then decided by a popular vote.
Top Prize: £500 | Categories: Poem/Flash | Deadline: July | Fee: £5
In addition to the main strands of poetry and flash fiction, this competition also has a mainstream fiction category, which seeks a synopsis and extract from a longer work of mainstream fiction. The prize for this category includes a five-day writing retreat.
Top Prize: £500 | Categories: Poem/Short Story | Deadline: March | Fee: £10
The London Magazine‘s annual competitions seek to recognise new talent and promote unpublished poems and stories from around the world. Winning entries appear in the magazine, and authors and poets are invited to a London-based networking drinks reception.
Top Prize: £400 | Categories: Chapbook | Deadline: August | Fee: £12
This competition seeks a poetry collection that epitomises the values of Prole: writing that engages, challenges and entertains the reader. The winning entry will receive publication as well as the prize money. Collections should be less than 35 pages in length.
Top Prize: €2,000 | Categories: Short Story | Deadline: August | Fee: €12
Winners are published in Southword. Previous prizes have also included a week-long residency and an expenses-paid trip to the Cork International Short Fiction Festival. The organisers say, “The Sean O’Faolain Short Story Competition […] is dedicated to one of Ireland’s most accomplished story writers and theorists, sponsored by the Munster Literature Centre.”
Top Prize: £20,000 | Categories: Collection | Deadline: August | Fee: None
Awarded annually for the best collection of verse published in the UK or Ireland that year. One of the most prestigious British poetry prizes. This prize is administered by the Poetry Book Society and supported by the estate of renowned poet TS Eliot, after whom it is named.
Top Prize: £10,000 | Categories: Short Story/Poem | Deadline: September | Fee: £17.50
Each year this competition awards a prize of £10,000 for the best short story and best short portfolio of poems submitted. It is run by the Manchester Writing School at Manchester Metropolitan University. The competition is open to anyone over the age of sixteen
Top Prize: £2,000 | Categories: Poem/Pamphlet | Deadline: September | Fee: £10/£20
The Poetry Book Society and Mslexia have teamed up for two competitions for women poets. The Women’s Poetry Competition offers a £2,000 prize, a mentorship with PBS Book Selector Sandeep Parmar and a Cove Park writing retreat. The winner of the Women’s Pamphlet Competition will receive publication by independent UK publisher Seren.
Top Prize: £1,000 | Categories: Short Story | Deadline: September | Fee: £10
Galley Beggar Press is an independent publisher committed to publishing daring, innovative fiction creative non-fiction. Their annual prize has a top award of £1,000 and a year of editorial support, along with several other smaller prizes, including cash, books and book vouchers.
Top Prize: Membership/Writing Retreat | Categories: Flash Fiction | Deadline: September | Fee: None
A free international quarterly flash contest with an open theme – up to 500 words. Win up to a year’s membership with Writers’ HQ and access £1000+ online writing courses, plus 3 one-day UK writing retreats. Winning and shortlisted stories will be published online and in a print anthology.
Top Prize: £1,000 | Categories: Short Story | Deadline: September | Fee: £8
Spread the Word’s annual London Short Story Prize seeks to discover, publish and profile the best stories and writers coming out of the capital. The 2018 Prize provides the winner with £1,000 and a meeting with an agent. Two highly commended authors will receive £250 and an editorial meeting.
Top Prize: £100 | Categories: Short Story | Deadline: September | Fee: Free
International competition open to anyone over the age of 16. Welcoming previously unpublished stories based in the style of a love letter. The Prizes available are 1st place, £100, £50 for 2nd place and two special commendations of £25. Winning entries are published on Val Wood’s website and Borrowbox, the digital library service available across the UK.
Top Prize: £500 | Categories: Short Story/Poem/Flash | Deadline: October | Fee: £5 – £8
A yearly set of competitions administered by the literary magazine Bare Fiction. There are 1st, 2nd and 3rd prizes in each category, and the winners are published in an issue of the magazine. Different guest judges are bought in each year to select the winners.
Top Prize: £5,000 | Categories: Poem | Deadline: October | Fee: £7
One of the biggest single poem competitions in the world, the National Poetry Competition is open to anyone aged 17 or older. The competition is for previously unpublished poems of up to 40 lines in length. As well as the top prize, there are nine other small prizes for second place, third place, and commended entries.
Top Prize: £10,000 | Categories: Novel | Deadline: November | Fee: None
This prize is awarded annually for the best second novel published in the UK. The organisers say, “The award fills a niche in the catalogue of literary prizes by celebrating the achievement of outstanding second novels, often neglected in comparison to the attention given to promising first books.”
Top Prize: £1,000 | Categories: Short Story/Poem | Deadline: December | Fee: £5
This prize awards up to £1,000 to the best story and the best poem submitted. In addition, the organisers have pledge to plant a tree in Kenya for every entry received. Stories may be up to 4,000 words and poems up to 50 lines, and entries are accepted from writers anywhere in the world.
Top Prize: €10,000/€3,000 | Categories: Poem/Short Story | Deadline: December | Fee:€12
These international prizes are open to everyone over the age of sixteen and awards a top prize of €10,000 for the best poem and €3,000 for the best short story submitted. It is run by The Moth Magazine, with winners published in the magazine and invited to special prize-giving events.
Top Prize: £10,000 | Categories: Novel/Book/Collection | Deadline: December | Fee: None
An annual award administered by the Royal Society for Literature which goes to the work of fiction, non-fiction or poetry that judges feel best evokes the spirit of a place. All prize winners also receive a paperweight clock, which they are awarded at a celebratory dinner.
Top Prize: £30,000 | Categories: Short Story | Deadline: October | Fee: None
One of the most valuable short story prizes in the UK. “The Sunday Times EFG Private Bank Award honours the finest writers of short stories in the UK and Ireland. Worth £30,000 to the winning author, it is open to anyone with a previous record of publication in creative writing in the UK or Ireland.
Top Prize: $1,000 | Deadline: 30th November
Description: Accepts original, unpublished work (5,000 words or fewer) in any genre.
Top Prize: £1,000 | Categories: Short Story | Deadline: December | Fee: None
An annual prize administered by The Royal Society of Literature for the best unpublished short story of the year. Winners are published in Prospect online and the RSL Review. The prize was founded to commemorate writer and critic Sir Victor Sawden Pritchett.
Top Prize: Varies | Categories: Varies | Deadline: Varies | Fee: Varies
They run a wide variety of contests throughout the year, some offering big cash prizes (thousands of dollars) – best to check the website and see which competitions are currently running.
Top Prize: $50| Categories: Any style/genre | Deadline: Weekly
There are 5 new prompts each week so check website for current details – winners published on blog – Savannah Cordova won this competition and went on to judge it, you can read about her experiences and what qualities she looks for in a short story here
Top Prize: $50,000| Categories: Poem | Deadline: TBD
Description: For mid-career authors who have just published their 3rd, 4th, or 5th fiction book. Self-published books and English translations are also considered. Sponsored by St. Francis College.
Top Prize: First: $20,000, Three runners-up: $2,000 | Categories: Poem | Deadline: TBD
Description: With over 40,000 participants last year, this prize invites authors to submit flash fiction in Spanish, English, Arabic, and Hebrew. Sponsored by The César Egido Serrano Foundation.
Top Prize: £150| Categories: Any style / genre except children’s and YA | Deadline: Bi-Annual | Fee: £6
You can order an optional critique for £10 when entering – winners published on website and in anthology – they also run a flash fiction comp.
Top Prize: Varies | Categories: Varies | Deadline: Varies
Style & genres vary – MYC Midnight run short story, flash fiction, screenwriting and screenplay competitions – entry fees are around $45 – all entrants receive feedback from the judges.
Top Prize: £500 | Categories: Short Story | Deadline: May
Description: Serendipity and Writing East Midlands are looking for creative writers from the African and African Caribbean Diaspora to submit short stories for the 2021 edition of BlackInk’s New Writing Competition. The initiative seeks to showcase new short fiction, applicants are invited to submit stories of up to 2,000 words for consideration. Two winning short stories will be published in BlackInk magazine for Black History Month in October 2021 and each writer will receive £500 in prize money.
Top Prize: £5000 | Categories: Unpublished Women’s Fiction Novel | Deadline: June
Description: We’re looking for someone whose work is unpublished and who has never had a literary agent. This year, we are looking for entries in the women’s fiction genre – so if you have written an uplifting story that will transport readers to distant shores, the perfect feelgood beach read or an escapist page-turner, then get in touch. The first prize is amazing – a publishing deal with Orion Books worth £5,000, plus representation from agent Amanda Preston, as well as being featured in GH.
Top Prize: £500 | Categories: Flash Fiction | Deadline: March/June/September/December
Description: Welcome to the Flash Fiction Competition by Flash 500! When it comes to prizes, it often seems as though flash fiction is the poor relation of writing competitions. This, however, is a flash fiction competition where the prize money truly reflects the skill required to encapsulate an entire story in just 500 words.
Top Prize: £100/Masterclass/Mentorship/Membership | Categories: Poetry/Fiction | Deadline: June
Description: The Creative Future Writers’ Award is an annual award for talented writers from a wealth of backgrounds. It’s the UK’s only national writing competition for all under-represented writers, and includes any style or genre (except children’s or erotica). Our high-profile award event features a selection of readings from the award-winning submissions, as well as performances from prominent guest authors. Winning submissions are also published in an anthology alongside work by our guest authors, available in hard copy and as an e-book.
Top Prize: £1000 | Categories: Flash Fiction | Deadline: December
Description: Globe Soup are looking for the best flash fiction of no more than 800 words. The competition features a secret location in which all participants must set their story. Participants can get extensive feedback on their entry by joining Globe Soup’s writing group and free entry to their monthly micro fiction contests and other opportunities to win cash prizes!
Top Prize: £500 | Categories: Crime Short Story | Deadline: February
Description: Our mission is to find the best unpublished short mystery — one that fits into legendary crime writer Margery’s definition of what makes a great story: “The Mystery remains box-shaped, at once a prison and a refuge. Its four walls are, roughly, a Crime, a Mystery, an Enquiry and a Conclusion with an Element of Satisfaction in it.”
Top Prize: £1500/Course | Categories: Novel | Deadline: November
Description: We are an Edinburgh-based, international award for unpublished and self-published novelists in all genres for adults and YA. This is our Award.
Top Prize: £500 | Categories: Novel | Deadline: January
Description: We accept the first ten thousand words including synopsis of a novel that has not been accepted for publication by a traditional publishing house. We are delighted to welcome Kate Nash of the Kate Nash Literary Agency as our final judge.