The following is a list of eleven free writing contests, grants, and awards with cash prizes over $1,000 –– and sometimes much higher. Deadlines are listed for each contest. Some of the prizes offer a very significant cash award.
If you’re looking for magazines to submit your writing to, I recommend getting a free copy of The Paid Publishing Guidebook.
1. Amazon UK is currently hosting a writing contest with a huge prize –– £20,000, which equals nearly $25,000. The contest requires writers to publish their entry via Kindle Direct Publishing. Keep in mind that doing so will make the book “published” in the eyes of publishers, and will make it harder to publish in other venues. The deadline is May 19th. To learn more, read this article.
2. The University of Pittsburgh Press is holding the 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.
3. The Arch and Bruce Brown Foundation is soon to open their 2017 playwriting competition. Playwrights are invited to submit full-length plays that concern LGBT issues and are “based on, or directly inspired by, a historical person, culture, work of art, or event.” First prize is $3,000. The contest opens on March 1st, and closes on April 30th, 2017. To learn more, read the contest guidelines.
4. The L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Contest is open for submissions. Emerging writers of fantasy or science fiction can submit prose of up to 17,000 words. Writers must be relatively unpublished (see number 5 on the guidelines). The first place winner will receive $1,000; second place will receive $750; and third place will receive $500. Winners will also receive trophies. At the end of the year, a Grand Prize winner will be announced and awarded $5,000.The next deadline is March 31, but the contest is held every quarter. To learn more, read the contest guidelines.
5. The Polari First Book Prize offers £1000 for an authors first book. The book must explore the “the LGBT experience, whether in poetry, prose, fiction or non-fiction,” and have been published in the 12 months leading to February 1st. The authors must also be a UK resident. Learn more here.
6. The Whiting Awards offers $40,000 to up to 6 authors to support the completion of a non-fiction book. Applicants must have a signed book contract, dated before May 1st, 2015. The deadline is May 1st, 2017. To learn more, read the award guidelines.
7. The Daily Mail Penguin Random House New Crime Novel Competition offers £20,000 and a book contract to a UK or Ireland resident. The deadline to enter is May 5th. Learn more here.
8. The Ross Writing Contest for Legal Short Fiction offers a $3,000 prize for “original works of fiction of no more than 5,000 words that illuminate the role of the law and/or lawyers in modern society.” The winner must be “U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents.” To learn more, read the contest guidelines.
9. The Wolfe Pack and Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine co-sponsor an annual contest that celebrates novellas. They offer a $1,000 prize, plus publication in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine. Eligible stories are 15,000 to 20,000 words. The deadline is May 31st. Learn more here.
10. The Eleanor Taylor Bland Crime Fiction Writers of Color Award offers a $1,500 grant to unpublished authors to support their career development. According to their guidelines “An unpublished writer is preferred, although publication of one work of short fiction or academic work will not disqualify an applicant. This grant is intended to support the recipient in activities related to crime fiction writing and career development.” The deadline to enter is June 15th, 2017. Learn more here.
11. The Ruth Lilly Fellowship offers $25,800 to 5 poets. The total award is $129,000. To be eligible, poets must be between 21 and 31 years old. (Sorry! Even the author of this short article is not eligible.) Applications are due April 30th, 2017. To learn more, visit this page.