10 Free Writing Contests with Cash Prizes

The following is a list of writing contests with cash prizes. All of them are completely free to enter. None of them require submission fees.

A wide variety of writing is covered, including non-fiction, poetry, and short stories, essays, etc…

1. The Bacopa Literary review has a contest for the best poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction. They offer a $200 first prize, and a $160 runner-up prize for each genre. All published writers will get $20 and a copy of the print journal. The deadline is June 30th. To learn more, read their submission guidelines.

2. Creative Nonfiction is hosting a contest for the Writing Pittsburgh series. They want “a single-author book-length work of creative nonfiction with a significant connection to contemporary Pittsburgh.” The prize is $7,500 as an advance against royalties. The deadline is October 15th. To learn more, visit their submission page.

3. The Utah Original Writing Competition honors Utah writers with cash prizes.  Prizes are in a variety of categories, including poetry, essays, short stories, books, and children’s books. Prizes are up to $1,000. The deadline is June 24th. To learn more, read this document.

4. The 2016 I Must Be Off Travel Writing Contest is now open to submission. First place prize is $200. The deadline is July 31st. To learn more, visit the contest page.

5. The Paz Prize for Poetry “recognizes a previously unpublished poetry book written in Spanish by a poet residing in the U.S.” The book will be translated and published in a bilingual edition by Akashic Press. The cash prize is $2,000. The deadline for submission is June 15th. To learn more, read the guidelines.

6. Penguin Young Readers, in partnership with We Need Diverse Books™ is hosting a book contest with a $35,000 prize and a book contract. They’re specifically writers who identify as “non-white,” writing for children aged 8-14. To learn more, read their submission guidelines.

7. The Richard J. Margolis Award is awared annually to a “promising new journalist or essayist whose work combines warmth,  humor, wisdom and concern with social justice.” The prize is $5,000 and a one month residency. To learn more, visit the contest’s website.

8. The University of Pittsburgh Press is holding the 2017 Drue Heinz Literature Prize. Published writers may submit a collection of short fiction for consideration. The winner will receive $15,000 and publication by the University of Pittsburgh Press. The deadline is June 30, but the submission period begins on May 1. To learn more, read the prize guidelines.

9. Blue Mountain Arts is hosting its 28th Biannual Poetry Card Contest. Writers can submit poems that focus on a special occasion or person. There is no limit to how many poems a writer can submit. The first place winner will receive $300; second place will receive $150; and third place will receive $50. The winning poems will also be published online. The deadline is June 30. To learn more, read the contest guidelines.

10. FutureScapes is holding a 2016 writing contest with a unique agenda; they’re looking for “stories that, when placed in the hands of a mayor or governor, could change the course of the future.” This year’s theme is “Cities of Empowerment,” and winning stories will indeed be distributed to mayors and governors. The first place winner will receive $2,000; the second place winner will receive $1,000; and 4 runners-up will receive $500 each. All winners will be published in an anthology. The Deadline is July 15. To learn more, read the contest guidelines.


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