30 Free Writing Contests With Cash Prizes ($75 to $75,000)

These are contests, awards, and fellowships ranging from $75 to $75,000, for writers of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and plays, and for editorial writers/columnists. They are broadly divided geographically, i.e. international prizes (which also includes those that do not specify anything about geographic restrictions), prizes for writers in the US and Canada, and those for writers in the UK. None charge an entry fee. Also see details about the international Novel Prize that ends on 1 July 2020, and pays $10,000, here. – S. Kalekar


PEN/Heim Translation Fund Grants
This international grant is to support the translation of book-length works of fiction, creative non-fiction, poetry, or drama that have not previously appeared in English in print or have appeared only in an outdated or otherwise flawed translation. Works should be translations-in-progress, as the grant aims to provide support for completion. The works must be translated into English. Projects may have up to two translators. There are various submission requirements, including a 10-12 page translation sample.
Value: $2,000-$4,000
Deadline: 1 June 2020
Open for: All translators
Details here and here.

Words Without Borders Poems in Translation Contest
This is a poetry translation contest. It is open to contemporary international poetry translated from other languages into English. Apart from the cash prize, four winning translated poems will be co-published on Words Without Borders, the digital magazine for international literature, and in Poem-a-Day, the popular daily poetry series produced by the Academy of American Poets, throughout September, which is National Translation Month.
Value: $150 each for winning poets and translators
Deadline: 1 June 2020
Open for: All poet-translators
Details here.

Atlanta Review: Dan Veach Prize for Younger Poets

The Dan Veach Prize for Younger Poets solicits poems from college-age students, aged 18-23, on any subject or style. Poems with an international focus are especially welcomed, but all poems must be written in English.  Students may submit up to two poems (40 lines or fewer for each poem). A letter of recommendation from a teacher or other person well-acquainted with the student’s writing must accompany the poem(s).  The recommendation letter should affirm that these poems are the student’s original work.
Value: $100
Deadline: 1 June 2020
Open for: College-age poets (18-23 years)
Details here.

Writing For Peace
This is an international contest for young writers (ages 13-19) to expand their empathy skills by researching an unfamiliar culture and writing from the point-of-view of a character within that new world, while exploring social, political, and environmental pressures, and universal themes. They accept fiction, non-fiction, and poetry submissions (see guidelines for themes).
Value: $200
Deadline: 1 June 2020
Open for: All writers aged 13-19
Details here.

They want a piece of writing in any format – short story, essay, poetry, song lyrics, etc – about bicycles and the cycling experience. Please read the terms carefully – all work submitted is the property of TreadBikely.
Value: $150, $100, $50
Deadline: 1 June 2020
Open for: All writers
Details here.

Green Stories Writing Competitions: QuiBi (8-10 minute episodes for new platform)
Their guidelines say, “We are looking for 3 – 15 ten-minute episodes of 8-10 minutes each  (suitable for new platform Quibi – designed for mobile phones) that in some way touches upon ideas around building a sustainable society. … We will consider all genres – rom-com, literary fiction, science fiction, mystery, crime etc. – but stories must engage with the idea of environmentally sustainable practices and/or sustainable societies.” Writers should send a minimum of 3 episodes and an outline of the others and/or synopsis of the whole story. They can send more than 3, but should specify which ones they would like the judges to read – “we suggest the first episode and any that most show how the story meets the green stories criteria.” Apart from the cash prizes, BBC Writers room have agreed to read the top five scripts and follow up with any writers they think have promise. In addition, Red Production Company have agreed to read the winning script and  consider it for production. 
Value: £500, £100, £50; best student submission prize of £50
Deadline: 4 June 2020 (extended)
Open for: All writers
Details here.

Eleanor Taylor Bland Crime Fiction Writers of Color Award
This grant is for supporting the recipient in crime fiction writing and career development activities. She or he may choose activities that include workshops, seminars, conferences, and retreats, online courses, and research activities required for completion of the work. An unpublished writer is preferred, however publication of several pieces of short fiction and/or up to two self-published or traditionally published books will not disqualify an applicant. The application process includes a writing sample – an unpublished piece of crime fiction, written with an adult audience in mind. This may be a short story or first chapter(s) of a manuscript in-progress, 2,500 to 5,000 words. Previous writing or publishing experience is not required.
Value: $2,000; the winner can choose from a range of activities
Deadline: 8 June 2020
Open for: Writers of color
Details here.

Sapiens Plurum: Interspecies Interaction
Sapiens Plurum conducts an annual short fiction contest, opening on Earth Day of each year. The purpose of the contest is to entice authors to conceive of the future in terms of desirable outcomes, and imagine how we might get there. The topic of this year’s contest is, ‘Interspecies Interaction’. Their guidelines say, “How can technology increase empathy and connection? The news today is full of examples of technology creating dissension and amplifying differences. We ask authors to imagine ways that technology can improve how we relate to each other and bring us closer, even across species. We welcome stories that view life from another species’ point of view and/or explore empathy between different forms of life.” (See guidelines for details). Submissions should be 1,500-3,000 words.
Value: $1,000, $500, $300
Deadline: 9 June 2020 (extended)
Open for: All writers
Details here and here.

Defenestration.net Short Story Contest
They want a short story which should include an incident of defenestration – the art or –ism of throwing people out of windows. This need not be literal. Their team defines such an incident as follows – “a sudden, immediate, even violent shift, change, or seismical event between the beginning and the end.” There will voting by four judges for this contest, with fan voting counting as an additional judge vote.
Value: $75, two runner-up prizes of $30 each
Deadline: 9 June 2020
Open for: All writers
Details here.

Cave Canem Northwestern University Press Poetry Prize
This is a second book award (see guidelines) for a collection of poetry by Black poets of African descent who have had no more than one full-length book of poetry published by a professional press. Apart from a cash prize, the poet also gets their manuscript published by Northwestern University Press. There is no entry fee this year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Value: $1,000
Deadline: 12 June 2020
Open for: Black poets of African descent who have had no more than one full-length book of poetry published by a professional press
Details here.

The Norton Writer’s Prize
This prize is for undergraduates who are enrolled during the 2019-20 academic year in an accredited 2- or 4-year college or university aged 17 or above. They will accept literary narratives, literary and other textual analyses, reports, profiles, evaluations, arguments, memoirs, proposals, mixed-genre pieces of 1,000-3,000 words. Entries require nomination by an instructor.
Value: Three prizes of $1,000 each
Deadline: 15 June 2020
Open for: Undergraduates
Details here.

Goi Peace Foundation: International Essay Contest for Young People
This is an international essay contest for people aged up to 25 years, in two categories – children and youth. The theme is ‘A Letter to Myself in 2030’. Their guidelines say, “Imagine what an ideal world ten years from now would be like. Write a letter from yourself in 2030 to your present (2020) self, in which you describe the state of the world, the way people are living, and what you, yourself, are doing in society. In addition, include any important message that you might wish to tell your present self.” Entries can be in English, French, Spanish or German (up to 700 words), or Japanese (up to 1,600 characters).
Value: For each category, the first prize is JPY100,000 (about $900) and a sponsored trip to the award ceremony in Tokyo and a Minister of Education award; JPY50,000 (about $450); five third prizes, and 25 honorable mentions
Deadline: 15 June 2020
Open for: People aged up to 25 years
Details here.

Bow Seat Ocean Awareness Contest
This is for junior and senior division (11-14 and 15-18) students worldwide. The theme for this ocean awareness contest is ‘Climate Hope: Transforming Crisis’- it invites students to learn about the climate crisis and its impact on oceans; discover or imagine solutions at local, national, or global scales; and create work that explores hope in action. Apart from prose (all forms) and poetry, the categories are art, film, music, and a new category, interactive & multimedia.
Value: Senior division – $1,500, $1,000, $500, $250 in each category; Junior division – $1,000, $750, $250, $100 for each category
Deadline: 15 June 2020
Open for: Students ages 11-18
Details here

Drue Heinz Literature Prize
This international award is open to authors who have published a novel, a book-length collection of fiction or at least three short stories or novellas in commercial magazines or literary journals. It is for an unpublished manuscript of short fiction, or two or more novellas, or a combination of one or more novellas and short stories. Manuscripts must be 150-300 pages.
Value: $15,000
Deadline: 30 June 2020
Open for: Published writers
Details here.

Blue Mountain Arts Biannual Poetry Card Contest
Blue Mountain Arts is a greeting card company and this international contest is for poetry for its greeting cards. Poems for this contest can be rhyming or non-rhyming, though they do find that non-rhyming reads better. Writers can enter the contest as often as they like.
Value: $350, $200, $100
Deadline: 30 June 2020
Open for: All writers
Details here.

Richard J. Margolis Award
The award is for non-fiction writers of social justice journalism. It is for a promising new journalist or essayist whose work combines warmth, humour, wisdom and concern with social justice. Applications should include 2-3 non-fiction writing samples, up to 30 pages.
Value: $5,000, residency at Blue Mountain Centre artists’ colony
Deadline: 1 July 2020
Open for: Unspecified
Details here

Green Stories Writing Competitions: Full-length novel
This is a contest for a full-length novel (for adults – the deadline for children’s stories is in September). Their guidelines say, “We are looking for Full-Length Novels for adults that in some way touch upon ideas around building a sustainable society. … We will consider all genres – rom-com, literary fiction, science fiction, mystery, crime etc. – but stories must engage with the idea of environmentally sustainable practices and/or sustainable societies.” Submissions should be 5000 – 10,000 words (of a 50,000-100,000 word novel) that must include the following: the first chapter; another chapter that best showcases how your novel meets the green stories criteria; a third chapter (suggest the final chapter if possible); and a one-page synopsis. Apart from the cash prize, they have agreement from Peter Cox from the literary agency, Redhammer Management, to provide a one to one mentoring session with the winners (at their office in London or virtual meeting).
Value: £500, £100, £50; best student submission prize of £50
Deadline: 2 July 2020 (extended)
Open for: All writers
Details here.

Hubub: Four prizes
This poetry magazines asks contributors to mail three to six poems for their annual issue. There is no separate entry for the prizes; they are chosen by external judges from entries for a previous issue. Regular poems selected for publishing get a small honorarium.
Value: The Vern Rutsala Award of $1.000; the Vi Gale Award of $500; the Kenneth O. Hanson Award of $200; and the Stout Award of $175. 
Deadline: Open now
Open for: All poets
Details here.


The Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture: Hiett Prize in the Humanities
This prize is aimed at identifying candidates in the early stages of their careers devoted to the humanities and whose work shows extraordinary promise to have a significant impact on contemporary culture. Applications include a Narrative Profile of Accomplishments and Published Work, and a plan for Future Scholarship and/or Project in the Humanities. Applicants must be active and continuing in their work. Age and length of experience are not necessarily limiting factors. Past winners have included writers of columns, nonfiction, poetry and memoir, and journalists.
Value: $50,000
Deadline: 1 June 2020 (extended)
Open for: Those resident in the US
Details here.

ABA Journal/Ross Writing Contest for Legal Short Fiction
They want short stories (up to 5,000 words) that illuminate the role of the law and/of lawyers in modern society. This contest is for US citizens or legal permanent residents.
Value: $3,000
Deadline: 1 June 2020
Open for: US writers
Details here.

The Stony Brook Short Fiction Prize
This prize is for short fiction of up to 7,500 words. It is for undergraduates enrolled full time in US and Canadian universities and colleges for the academic year 2019-20. This prize has traditionally encouraged submissions from students with an Asian background, but they urge all students to enter.
Value: $1,000, scholarship to the Southampton Writers Conference
Deadline: 1 June 2020
Open for: Undergraduate students from the US and Canada
Details here

Fraser Institute Student Essay Contest

For this year’s essay contest, the theme is ‘The Ideas of Milton Friedman: Exploring the Connections between Economic Freedom and other Freedoms or Aspects of the Human Condition.’ (See their extensive guidelines for details). The contest is for high school, undergraduate, and graduate students studying in Canada and Canadian students studying abroad.
Value: CAD1,500, CAD1,000, CAD500 each in high school, undergraduate, and graduate categories
Deadline: 1 June 2020
Open for: Canadian students
Details here.

Berton House Writer-in-Residence
This is for published Canadian writers (of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, young readers, playwriting). Four writers will be selected to live and work in Dawson City, Yukon, in the childhood home of noted Canadian author Pierre Berton. Residents will receive an honorarium. Housing and travel costs are covered. Special access requirements will not affect a writer’s application or chances of being selected.
Value: CAD9,000, Residency
Deadline: 8 June 2020
Open for: Canadian writers
Details here.

Eugene C. Pulliam Fellowship
This award is for an outstanding mid-career editorial writer or columnist to help broaden his or her journalistic horizons and knowledge of the world. The annual award can be used to cover the cost of study, research and/or travel in any field. The fellowship results in editorials and other writings, including books. One of the eligibility requirements is, the candidate must hold a position as a part-time or full-time editorial writer or columnist at a news publication located in the US. Applications also are welcome from freelance opinion writers who devote a majority of their time, or derive a majority of their income, from that pursuit. The application includes five samples of editorials or columns.
(Also see the Eugene S. Pulliam First Amendment Award of $10,000, for a person or persons who have fought to protect and preserve one or more of the rights guaranteed by the First Amendment; the entrants need not be journalists.)
Value: $75,000
Deadline: 20 June 2020
Open for: Editorial writer/columnist at a news publication in the US
Details here.


Note: King Lear Prizes has one entry category that is open for non-UK residents also.

Galton & Simpson Bursary for Comedy Writing
This is a bursary for comedy writing aimed at writers and writing partnerships, to develop a script for broadcast consideration under the guidance of established industry practitioners and BBC Comedy Commissioning. Applicants must submit a sample script of 30 pages/30 minutes maximum duration, supported by a series development plan and a short (one page) biog/statement. BBC Comedy will shortlist four projects for further consideration. One final award winner will have their script developed for broadcast consideration, with advice and input from leading industry practitioners, and receive a bursary.
Value: £5,500
Deadline: 5 June 2020
Open for: UK residents, or EU or UK national resident in an EU member state
Details here.

Sphinx Theatre Company: Sphinx 30
This is an opportunity for emerging/mid-career female writers in the UK. It is part of Sphinx 30, a year-long programme celebrating Sphinx Theatre’s 30th anniversary. Sphinx 30 will be launched with the pilot of Sphinx Lab, a new writers’ development programme for female playwrights; it will offer advice from leading female playwrights, advice from the industry, craft and business skills, and a chance to write a play and receive guidance on your work, with the aim to equip female playwrights with information, skills and dramaturgy on their work to support their careers. Playwrights will receive a £1,000 seed commission to write the new play, written for the main stage. Submission requirements include a 10-page example of your playwriting.
Value: 10 seed commissions of £1,000 each
Deadline: 15 June 2020
Open for: Female playwrights in the UK
Details here.

Writers & Artists: Working-Class Writers Prize

This is for writers with a working class background, in the UK and Ireland. Submission requirements include the beginning of a work-in-progress in any genre of prose, of up to 2,000 words. They have other prizes also apart from the cash prize, including a year-long writing mentoring from their judge, and a year’s free subscription to The Society of Authors.

Value: £200

Deadline: 15 June 2020
Open for: UK writers
Details here.

Phil Fox Award for Playwriting
They invite playwrights with any level of experience from across the UK to submit full-length scripts about issues related to addiction. The winning writer will get a commission to develop the winning script, or to develop a new script about issues related to addiction, and mentoring.
Value: £6,000 commission
Deadline: 16 June 2020
Open for: UK playwrights
Details here.

King Lear Prizes

This is for amateur UK writers and artists who are stuck at home because of Coronavirus, and who are aged above 70 years; one of the categories is also open for overseas participants. Their website says, “Our greatest writer, William Shakespeare, was faced with a similar situation, with outbreaks of the plague throughout his career, and in particular in 1605-06, when he wrote his King Lear.
We have launched the King Lear Prizes to encourage amateurs and beginners to have a project to get stuck into, and to create new works of literature, poetry, music, drama and art during the time they are quarantined.” Entrants must not have had their work published before in a ‘paid for’ book, magazine or other format, or be a professional in the category that they are entering (though self-published is ok). The categories are: short stories (up to 10,000 words), poetry (up to 40 lines), solo musical composition (up to 4 minutes), short drama (up to 15 minutes in running time), and art.
There is also a Chairman’s Prize, in any art form, for those not eligible for other categories – they will also accept non-UK citizens overseas in this category. Value: £1,000 in each category
Deadline: 19 June 2020 (for postal entries, postmarked by 17 June)
Open for: Amateur UK writers aged over 70 years
Details here (home page), here (rules) and here (how to enter).

The Society of Authors: The Sunday Times/University of Warwick Young Writer of the Year
The prize is for a published or self-published book or e-book of fiction, non-fiction or poetry of high literary merit. It is for UK/Ireland based authors between the ages of 18 and 35.
Value: £5,000; three awards of £500 each
Deadline: 22 June 2020
Open for: Young UK/Irish writers
Details here.

Author Bio: S. Kalekar is the pseudonym of a regular contributor to this magazine. She is the author of 182 Short Fiction Publishers. She can be reached here.


We send you writing jobs.

Sign up and we'll send you 3 companies hiring writers now. Plus, we'll send more companies as we find and review them. All in our free email magazine.

We're the magazine for freelance writers.

We send you companies hiring writers.

Subscribe and we'll send you 3 companies hiring right now.

We'll also send you a guide that gets you started.

We're completely free.

Subscribe now. (It's free.)


About Us

We're dedicated to helping freelance writers succeed. We send you reviews of freelance writing companies, assignments, and articles to help build your writing career. You can view our privacy policy here, and our disclaimer. To get started, simply enter your email address in the form on this page.