22 Free Writing Contests With Cash Prizes

Contributed By S. Kalekar

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  • This list has contests and awards for poets and writers of fiction and non-fiction in various demographics: there are contests of speculative fiction, envisaging future cities and economic equality; poetry on the massacre at Nanking, during World War II; for children’s writers and writers over 40; for Arts writing and writing of unclassifiable work; for debut writers and writers of a migrant background; for translators, and for writers to attend conferences and writing retreats, including one in Iceland. Some contests are for published writing. All are free to enter and have cash prizes.

    See this link for additional grants and fellowships for writers; some deadlines are coming up.

  • PEN/Phyllis Naylor Working Writers Fellowship

    This award is for a work-in-progress by a children’s/young author writer, who is in financial need, and who has had at least one children’s/YA book published in the US – the novel must have been warmly received by critics, but not generated a sufficient income to support the author. The judges will be looking for candidates whose work has not yet got broad readership. Applicants must send 50-75 pages of their work-in-progress as part of the application. No graphic novels or picture books.
    Value: $5,000
    Deadline: 13 October 2017 (deadline extended)
    Open for: Children’s/YA fiction writers in financial need, who have had at least one book published by a US publisher
    Details here.

  • PEN/Edward and Lily Tuck Award for Paraguayan Literature

    The award for published work carries a cash stipend of $3,000 for the living author of a major work of Paraguayan literature. Both established and emerging writers are eligible. Another $3,000 is given to the winning translator in order to bring the work from Spanish or Guarani to the English-speaking world. For the current cycle, they are accepting works of published Paraguayan fiction.
    Value: $3,000 for a writer and $3,000 for a translator
    Deadline: 13 October 2017 (deadline extended)
    Open for: Paraguayan writers and translators of published fiction
    Details here.

  • Futurescapes Short Story Competition
    Submit a short story of up to 8,000 words on the theme ‘Blue Sky Cities’. The judges are looking for stories that are set in a near-future city where significant strides have been made toward improving air quality, climate adaptation, or even net positive impacts on climate and air quality; stories that explore the nuance of technology, science, politics, and/or policy, without forgetting about plot and character. The stories could provide a road-map for cities, states, and nations to follow. Entrants can submit the first story for free.

    Value: $2,000; $500 for five runners-up, publication
    Deadline: 13 October 2017
    Open for: Writers who are not professional authors (see guidelines)
    Details here.

  • The Marfield Prize (for published Arts writing)

    Books must be non-fiction titles, originally published (or to be published) in the United States in 2017. They may be about any artistic discipline (visual, literary, performing, or media arts, as well as cross-disciplinary works); they accept art history and criticism, biographies and memoirs, and essays.

    Value: $10,000
    Deadline: 15 October 2017
    Open for: Non-fiction book on the Arts, published in the US
    Details here.

  • A Public Space Fellowships

    This is for unpublished writers. The fellowship aims to seek out writers of unclassifiable and uncategorizable work, and to provide support for their work at a critical juncture, before they have published a book. Submit one unpublished prose piece; there is no word count requirement.
    Value: $1,000, editorial support, opportunity for a public reading in New York City
    Deadline: 15 October 2017
    Open for: Unpublished and uncontracted writers worldwide
    Details here.

  • Poems on the Nanjing Massacre 1937

    This contest commemorates the 80th anniversary of the rape and massacre at Nanjing. Poems should pay a tribute to the victims, as well as to numerous Western and Chinese unsung heroes who risked their lives at time to save tens of thousands Chinese females and refugees in the Nanjing (Nanking) Safety Zone set up by the American, German and other Western and local residents in Nanjing (Nanking), then the capital of China. Poems can be in English or classical Chinese languages.
    Value: $1,000
    Deadline: 15 October 2017
    Open for: All poets
    Details here.

  • Deborah Cass Prize

    This is a prize for early-career Australian writers with migrant background. Submit a piece of prose, fiction or non-fiction, complete or part of a larger work. The writing sample should reflect, at least in part, the migrant experience.
    Value: AUD3,000, publication, mentoring by an established writer
    Deadline: 16 October 2017
    Open for: Australian early-career writers with migrant background (see guidelines)
    Details here.

  • Society of Authors: Goethe-Institut Award

    This is for British translators, including those who have been resident in the UK for the last three years. It is for the best translation of an extract from Unterleuten by Juli Zeh (see guidelines for downloading the text).

    Value: €1,000, a place at the International Translator’s Meeting at the Leipzig Book Fair, travel and accommodation costs
    Deadline: 30 October 2017
    Open for: British translators
    Details here.

  • Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction

    This is a prize for young UK writers. They want creative writing of 800-2,000 words – complete stories or an extract from a longer work; fictional diaries, letters or reportage; poetry or drama. The story can be set at any time in history, as long as it is an identifiable period before the author was born, in a world recognisably different from the present. Mailed entries only.
    Value: £500 travel and research grant, an invitation to the Borders Book Festival in Melrose, Scotland, in June 2018; book tokens worth £100 for runners-up
    Deadline: 31 October 2017
    Open for: UK residents aged 11-19
    Details here.

  • Benjamin Franklin House Literary Prize

    This is for young UK writers, to explore Benjamin Franklin’s relevance in present times. For this round, writers must interpret this quote of his, in 1,000-1,500 words: ‘If you would not be forgotten, As soon as you are dead and rotten, either write things worth reading, or do things worth the writing.’ Poor Richard, 1738

    Value: £750, £500, publishing
    Deadline: 31 October 2017
    Open for: UK writers aged 18-25
    Details here.

  • Cyberpunk Short Story Competition

    Submit a story of up to 7,500 words in the Cyberpunk genre. This is a subgenre of sci-fi known for high tech and low life, taking its name from the combination of cybernetics and punk. It features advanced technology such as computers or information technology coupled with some degree of breakdown in the social order.

    Value: $150
    Deadline: 31 October 2017
    Open for: All writers
    Details here.

  • Hermeneutic Chaos Journal: The Jane Lumley Prize for Poetry

    They are looking for a poet whose “written work revels in the full spirit of creating a literary architecture that inspires the readers to engage with its being beyond the words and feelings that constitute it.” Submit up to eight poems in all forms and styles; no translations. They strongly encourage unpublished writers to submit.
    Value: $300
    Deadline: 31 October 2017
    Open for: Poets who have not published more than one book of poetry
    Details here.

  • Comma Press: The Dinesh Allirajah Prize for Short Fiction

    This is a prize for UK writers. The theme for the inaugural year of the prize is ‘Café stories’; submit a short story of 2,000-6,000 words.

    Value: £500, publication
    Deadline: 31 October 2017
    Open for: UK residents
    Details here.

  • Iceland Writers Retreat Alumni Award

    These awards offer full (including airfare) or partial funding to writers in need, to attend the writers’ retreat in Iceland in April 2018. Candidates do not need to be professional writers, but should be serious about the craft and interested in developing their skills and contacts. Their writing interests should fit well with the faculty for the 2018 retreat (i.e. literary fiction, non-fiction, memoir).
    Value: Full or partial funds to attend the writers’ retreat at Reykjavík
    Deadline: 31 October 2017
    Open for: All writers
    Details here.

  • Society of Authors: The Eric Gregory Awards

    This is for a collection of poetry by young UK-based poets. Submit up to 30 poems, published or unpublished.
    Value: Total prize money of £20,000
    Deadline: 31 October 2017
    Open for: Poets who are British nationals, or resident in Great Britain and Northern Ireland for three years prior to the date of submission for the award, and under 30
    Details here.

  • Society of Authors: McKitterick Prize

    This is for a first novel (not including works for children), published or unpublished, by authors over 40. The work must be a work of ‘fiction or imagination or substantially of fiction or imagination’ and must either have been first published in the UK in 2017, or be unpublished.
    Value: £4,000; £1,000 for the runner-up
    Deadline: 31 October 2017
    Open for: Authors over 40
    Details here.

  • Society of Authors: The Tom-Gallon Trust Award

    This is for UK and Commonwealth writers. Submit one short story – traditional, not experimental – published or unpublished, of up to 5,000 words.

    Value: £1,000, £500
    Deadline: 31 October 2017
    Open for: Authors who are resident in the United Kingdom, Commonwealth or the Republic of Ireland, and have had at least one short story published or accepted for publication
    Details here.

  • Economic Security Project: Into the Black

    This project invites speculative fiction writing of up to 5,000 words about the economics of the future; specifically, on how a basic individual income—where everyone gets the money to meet their basic needs—could change the US as it is known today. How different might America be without a class of have-nots?

    Value: $12,000 ($1,000 per month through 2018)
    Deadline: 1 November 2017
    Open for: Writers living in the US
    Details here.

  • Commonwealth Short Story Prize

    This is awarded for the best piece of unpublished short fiction (2,000–5,000 words) in English, written by authors in the Commonwealth. Translated entries are also eligible, as are stories written in the original Bengali, Chinese, Kiswahili, Malay, Portuguese, Samoan and Tamil. See guidelines for the list of Commonwealth countries.

    Value: £5,000 for the overall winner; £2,500 for regional winners
    Deadline: 1 November 2017
    Open for: Writers in the Commonwealth
    Details here.

  • Malice Domestic Grants for Unpublished Writers

    This is given to an unpublished writer in the Malice Domestic genre at each year’s Malice Domestic convention. The grant may be used to offset registration, travel, or other expenses related to attendance at a writers’ conference or workshop within a year of the date of the award. In the case of nonfiction, the grant may be used to offset research expenses. See guidelines for additional details and submission requirements.
    Value: $2,500
    Deadline: 1 November 2017
    Open for: Unpublished writers in the Malice Domestic genre
    Details here.

  • Vermont Writers’ Prize

    This is for Vermont residents – write up to 1,500 words of essay, short story, play or poem, with Vermont as a central theme.
    Value: $1,500, publication
    Deadline: 1 November 2017
    Open for: All Vermont residents and students
    Details here.

  • PEN/Robert J. Dau Short Story Prize for Emerging Writers

    This is a prize for US residents; editors of literary journals (not authors) can submit debut stories of writers that were published in their magazines. Participating publications may be cultural websites, online magazines, or print magazines distributed in the US.
    Value: $2,000 each for 12 writers, publication in The PEN America Best Debut Short Stories
    Deadline: 10 November 2017
    Open for: US residents
    Details here.


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