View our curated results of the best free literary contests!
|Name||Deadline||Type||Status||Top Prize||WW Rating|
|Zocalo Public Square Poetry Prize||01/29/21||Individual Poems||Active||$1,000.00||Recommended|
Deadline January 29 (must be received by this date; don't enter before November 1). Recommended free contest awards $1,000 for a poem by a US author that best evokes a connection to place. "Place" may be interpreted by the poet as a place of historical, cultural, political, or personal importance; it may be a literal, imaginary, or metaphorical landscape. Send 1-3 unpublished poems, no length limit, by email. Zocalo Public Square connects people to ideas and to each other in an open, accessible, non-partisan, and broad-minded spirit.
|A Public Space Emerging Writer Fellowships||01/31/21||Short Fiction & Creative Nonfiction|
Deadline January 31 (must be received by this date; don't enter before January 1). Recommended free contest awards three prizes of $1,000 and six-month fellowships for aspiring writers who have not yet published or been contracted to write a book-length work but whose writing shows exceptional talent. Winners also receive publication in A Public Space, opportunities for publishing industry networking and mentoring, as well as participation in a public reading in NYC. Submit a previously unpublished short story or essay, of any length, and a comprehensive cover letter containing all the information stipulated in the sponsor's guidelines. No email or postal submissions permitted; submit all application materials online. Sponsored by A Public Space, an independent literary magazine.
|Caine Prize for African Writing||01/31/21||Short Fiction||Active||£10,000.00||Highly Recommended|
Deadline January 31 (must be received by this date). Highly recommended free contest awards 10,000 pounds for published short stories, 3,000-10,000 words, by African writers, defined as someone who was born in Africa, or who is a national of an African country, or who has a parent who is African by birth or nationality. Up to 5 shortlisted authors receive 500 pounds plus a travel stipend. Story must have been first published within the five years preceding the deadline date. Publisher must send 6 copies of published story. 6 originals are preferred, but they will accept 1 original and 5 photocopies of works published in a book or journal, or 6 photocopies if published online. Entries should be accompanied by a letter from the publisher conveying a brief biography of the writer, and specifying which African country the writer comes from.
|Danuta Gleed Literary Award||01/31/21||Published Prose Book||Active||C$10,000.00||Highly Recommended|
Deadline January 31 (must be received by this date). Highly recommended free contest awards top prize of C$10,000 for the best first collection of short fiction written by a Canadian author and published in Canada during the preceding calendar year. Publisher must send 4 copies to the Writers' Union of Canada and also complete a submission form online, which includes uploading publicity materials.
|Helen and Kurt Wolff Translator's Prize||01/31/21||Published Poetry Book|
Published Prose Book
Deadline January 31 (must be received by this date). Recommended free contest sponsored by the Goethe-Institut New York honors an outstanding literary translation from German into English published in the US or Canada during the preceding calendar year. Literary novels, novellas, short stories, plays, poetry, biographies, essays, and correspondences are eligible. Prize is $10,000 and an invitation to the award ceremony in New York. American publishers should complete online submission form and then send 6 copies of the book.
|Jerry Jazz Musician Fiction Contest||01/31/21||Short Fiction||Active||$100.00||Neutral|
Deadlines January 31, May 31, and September 30 (must be received by these dates). Thrice-yearly free neutral contest awards $100 and web publication for short fiction. The Jerry Jazz Musician reader has interests in music, social history, literature, politics, art, film, and theatre, particularly that of the counter-culture of mid-20th century America. Entries should appeal to a reader with these characteristics. Submit a story of up to 4,000 words (3,000 words is ideal) by email.
|Walter Rumsey Marvin Grant||01/31/21||Short Fiction & Creative Nonfiction||Active||$1,000.00||Recommended|
Deadline January 31. Recommended free contest awards a $1,000 grant to an Ohio writer aged 30 and under with no published books. Submit 1-4 prose pieces (fiction or creative nonfiction), 10-40 total double-spaced pages. Applicants must have been born in Ohio or lived there for at least 3 years. See website for details and entry form. Send 4 copies of your entry. Sponsored by the Ohioana Library Association.
|$1,000 for 1,000 Words Middle and High School Creative Writing Contest||02/01/21||Short Fiction||Active||$1,000.00||Recommended|
Deadline February 1 (must be received by this date; don't enter before November 1). Recommended free contest awards two top prizes of $1,000 for previously unpublished flash fiction, exactly 1,000 words long, by students in grades 6-12 (one prize for grades 6-8 and the other for grades 9-12). Winners may be published online and in the sponsor's annual Bluefire journal. Previous winners are ineligible. Submit one entry via the sponsor's online submission form. Sponsored by the Leyla Beban Young Authors Foundation.
|Gannon University's High School Poetry Contest||02/01/21||Individual Poems||Active||$100.00||Recommended|
Deadline February 1 (must be received by this date). Recommended free contest for US students in grades 9-12 awards prizes of $100, $75, $50. Open to home schoolers. Winners also receive signed book by an acclaimed poet and will be published in Writing Awards program. Email 1-2 poems, maximum 40 lines apiece. Sponsored by Gannon University, a Catholic college in Erie, PA.
|Iris N. Spencer Poetry Award||02/01/21||Individual Poems||Active||$1,500.00||Recommended|
Deadline February 1 (must be received by this date). Recommended free contest from West Chester University awards prizes up to $1,500 for unpublished poetry "composed in the traditional modes of meter, rhyme, and received forms" by US undergraduate students. Submit 1-3 poems, of any length, via email.
|Myong Cha Son Haiku Award||02/01/21||Individual Poems||Active||$1,500.00||Recommended|
Deadline February 1 (must be received by this date). Recommended free contest from West Chester University awards prizes up to $1,500 for unpublished haiku by US undergraduate students. Submit 1-3 poems via email.
|Paterson Poetry Prize||02/01/21||Published Poetry Book||Active||$1,000.00||Recommended|
Deadline February 1. Recommended free contest awards $1,000 for the strongest collection of poems published during the previous calendar year. Book must have 48+ pages. To receive the prize, the winning poet must participate in a reading and teach a workshop at the Poetry Center in Paterson, NJ. Publisher or author should submit 2 copies plus entry form. Recent winners have been well-established poets. Sponsored by the Poetry Center at Passaic County Community College.
|Paterson Prize for Books for Young People||02/01/21||Published Poetry Book|
Published Prose Book
Deadline February 1. Recommended free contest awards $500 in each of three age categories: books for PreK-Grade 3, Grades 4-6, or Grades 7-12. Books must have been published in the previous calendar year. Send 3 copies of book plus entry form. Publisher or author may submit more than one title for prize consideration. Sponsored by the Poetry Center at Passaic County Community College.
|Rhina P. Espaillat Poetry Award||02/01/21||Individual Poems||Active||$500.00||Recommended|
Deadline February 1 (must be received by this date). Recommended free contest from West Chester University awards $500 for unpublished poems written in Spanish and translations of English poems to Spanish by US undergraduate students. Submit 1-3 poems, of any length, via email.
|Spread the Word Life Writing Prize||02/01/21||Creative Nonfiction|
Deadline February 1 (must be received by this date; don't enter before November 2). Recommended free contest awards top prize of 1,500 pounds to an emerging UK writer aged 18+ for an unpublished life writing piece, maximum 5,000 words. Life writing is nonfiction work based significantly on the author's own personal experience; sponsor seeks pieces in which the writer weaves a considerable amount of their own experience in with someone else's life or with a concept. An entry may be a stand-alone piece or the beginning extract of a longer work. Open to writers who are not agented, do not have a publishing contract for a full-length work at the time of entry, and have not previously had a full-length literary work published in print, broadcast, or performed. See full terms and conditions on sponsor's website regarding author eligibility. Winner also receives online publication, an Arvon course, and a two-year membership to the Royal Society of Literature, among other prizes. Submit your entry online or send by mail.
|Wednesday Club Junior Poetry Contest||02/01/21||Individual Poems||Active||$200.00||Neutral|
Deadline February 1 (must be received by this date). Neutral free contest for students in grades 9-12 awards top prize of $200. Entrants must attend high schools in the area of St. Louis, MO. Entries must be submitted through their school's English Department. Send two copies of two previously unpublished poems, one page per poem maximum, signed with a pen name, along with entry form.
|Wednesday Club Poetry Contest||02/01/21||Individual Poems||Active||$500.00||Neutral|
Deadline February 1 (must be received by this date). Neutral free contest gives top prize of $500 for previously unpublished poetry by writers age 18+ living within a 50-mile radius of St. Louis, MO. Send 2 copies of 2 poems, any length.
|Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing||02/02/21||Published Prose Book||Active||C$25,000.00||Recommended|
Deadlines February 2, March 23, May 4 (must be received by these dates; don't enter before January 4). Recommended free contest awards C$25,000 for literary nonfiction books about Canadian politics by Canadian citizens or permanent residents and first published in Canada during the calendar year. Deadline varies depending on when the book was published: Books published between January 1, 2020 and December 31, 2020 must be received by February 2; those published between January 1, 2021 and March 22, 2021 must be received by March 23; and those published between March 23, 2021 and June 30, 2021 must be received by May 4. Publishers should complete online entry form and upload author and book cover images, a PDF copy of each submitted title, as well as a spreadsheet list of titles published by that publisher, to establish eligibility. Send 5 copies of the book. Sponsored by the Writers' Trust of Canada and named after Shaughnessy Cohen, an outspoken and popular Member of Parliament from Ontario.
|Narrative Magazine "Tell Me a Story" High School Contest||02/04/21||Individual Poems||Active||$500.00||Recommended|
Deadline February 4 (must be received by this date; don't enter before January 4). Recommended free contest gives prizes up to $500 for unpublished poems by high school students aged 15-18. Send one poem, 10-50 lines, via their online submission system. Winners will be published in Narrative Magazine, a prestigious online journal, and invited to read their work on the Narrative OutLoud podcast. The schools of winners will also receive special recognition and prizes.
|Bethesda Urban Partnership Poetry Contest||02/05/21||Individual Poems||Active||$350.00||Neutral|
Deadline February 5 (must be received by this date). Neutral free contest awards prizes up to $350 in adult category (ages 18+) and $75 in high school category (ages 14-17) for previously unpublished poetry by residents of Washington, DC and select counties in Maryland and Virginia. All winners will be published on Bethesda.org and honored during Bethesda's Local Writer's Showcase in April; winner in adult category will also receive publication on The Writer's Center "First Person Plural" blog and a free class and membership to The Writer's Center. Poems should be 21 lines maximum. One entry per person. Enter via online submissions portal only; no mail or email entries accepted. Sponsored by the Bethesda Urban Partnership.
|Charles Crupi Memorial Poetry Contest||02/07/21||Individual Poems||Active||$250.00||Neutral|
Deadline February 7 (must be received by this date; don't enter before November 20). Neutral free contest awards prizes up to $250 for unpublished poems by Michigan high school students. Winners published in The Albion Review, the literary journal of Albion College in Michigan. Submit 1-3 poems online, maximum 50 lines each. Prior to 2012, contest was known as the Michigan High School Poetry Contest.
|Western Australian Premier's Book Awards||02/08/21||Published Poetry Book|
Published Prose Book
Deadline February 8 (must be received by this date; don't enter before December 17). Highly recommended free contest gives prizes for the best book published during the preceding calendar year in a variety of genres. Contest is open to authors who either are citizens or permanent residents of Western Australia. There is a top prize of A$60,000 (The Western Australian Writer’s Fellowship) designed to assist a Western Australian writer, of any style or genre, to develop their writing practice and give them the time to create new work. A prize for Writing for Children of A$15,000 will be awarded for a work of prose, poetry, or narrative nonfiction written for children (0-12 years old), in any genre, by an author residing in Western Australia. An Emerging Writer prize of A$15,000 is open to first-time published authors residing in Western Australia. See website for more details. Authors, publishers, or literary agents may nominate a title using the online form, then send 5 copies of book to the address provided during the online nomination process. For the fellowship, submit 3-page CV, your most relevant work (of any length), 40-page writing sample, 3-page statement, and three 1-page letters of support.
|Writers' and Artists' Short Story Competition||02/12/21||Short Fiction||Active||£0.00||Neutral|
Deadline February 12 (must be received by this date). Neutral free contest awards tuition to an Arvon Foundation residential writing retreat and online publication, for previously unpublished short fiction, up to 2,000 words, on any topic. Enter by email. Sponsored by Bloomsbury Publishing, publishers of The Writers' & Artists' Yearbook, an annual directory of markets and advice for writers.
|Ballard Spahr Prize for Poetry||02/15/21||Poetry Manuscript||Active||$10,000.00||Highly Recommended|
Deadline February 15 (must be received by this date; don't enter before January 1). Highly recommended free contest awards $10,000 and publication by Milkweed Editions for a complete, book-length poetry collection (48 pages minimum) by a poet residing in the Upper Midwest (North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Michigan). Winner also receives a standard royalty contract, national distribution, a comprehensive marketing and publicity campaign, and a public book launch/celebration in November in Minneapolis, MN. Limit one ms. per poet. See formatting requirements on sponsor's website. Submit ms. online.
|California Book Awards||02/15/21||Published Poetry Book|
Published Prose Book
Deadline February 15 (must be received by this date; don't enter before November 15). Neutral free contest for books whose authors lived in California when the work was accepted for publication. Gold medals are awarded in the genres of poetry, fiction, nonfiction, first work of fiction, Californiana, notable contribution to publishing, juvenile literature (ages 0-12), and young adult literature (ages 13-16). Poetry winners have been established writers. Entries must have been published during the current calendar year. No e-books, self-published titles, and books published by vanity or print-on-demand presses. Author or publisher should complete entry form online and send 6 copies of book.
|Harold Morton Landon Translation Award||02/15/21||Published Poetry Book||Active||$1,000.00||Highly Recommended|
Deadline February 15 (must be received by this date; don't enter before September 15). Highly recommended free contest from the Academy of American Poets awards $1,000 for the best book of poetry, 48+ pages, translated from any language into English and published in the US during the previous calendar year. Translator must be a living US citizen or resident who has resided in the United States for the past decade. To submit a book for consideration, the publisher must enter it online.
|Leroy & Mildred Kanterman Memorial Merit Book Awards||02/15/21||Published Poetry Book|
Published Prose Book
Deadline February 15 (must be received by this date; don't enter before January 1). Neutral free contest from the Haiku Society of America awards up to $250 for the best book of haiku, or primarily haiku, published in the previous calendar year. At least 50 percent of the book must be haiku, senryu, or haibun, or prose about these subjects (books mostly of tanka, for example, are not eligible). HSA members, authors, or publishers may submit or nominate more than one title; send two copies of each book. Early entries encouraged.
|Raiziss/de Palchi Translation Award||02/15/21||Published Poetry Book|
Deadline February 15 (must be received by this date; don't enter before September 15). Highly recommended free contest from the Academy of American Poets alternates between a $25,000 fellowship for translators of modern Italian poetry to complete a work-in-progress (odd-numbered years), and a $10,000 prize for published books of English translations of modern Italian poetry (even-numbered years). Open to US citizens and residents who have resided in the United States for at least a decade. For 2021, the Raiziss/de Palchi Fellowship will be given for the translation into English of modern, standard (non-dialect) Italian poetry. Translator must enter online, completing the entry form as well as uploading a 5-page proposal, 15-page sample of the translation-in-progress, and the original poems.
|Matthew Power Literary Reporting Award||02/16/21||Creative Nonfiction|
Deadline February 16 (must be received by this date). Recommended free contest awards $12,500 grant for article proposals from promising early-career, creative nonfiction writers age 21+ to report on "an untold story that uncovers truths about the human condition". The completed project, which will probe an important public issue in depth (4,000-6,000 words), and which the sponsor expects to be featured in an English-language publication of strong reputation, must be delivered no later than December 31 of the deadline year. Winner will receive visiting scholar privileges at NYU, including full online and on-site library access from April-December. Complete sponsor's comprehensive application online by answering several questions regarding the proposed project and by supplying required application materials (e.g., URL addresses of previously published articles, resume/CV, references). Sponsored by the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute at New York University. Named in honor of Matthew Power, an award-winning journalist who passed away in 2014 while reporting in Uganda.
|Gaithersburg Book Festival Poetry Contest||02/18/21||Individual Poems||Active||$250.00||Neutral|
Deadline February 18 (must be received by this date). Neutral free contest from the annual Gaithersburg Book Festival in Gaithersburg, MD gives prizes up to $250 in gift certificates for poems, maximum 1 page, by high school students (grades 9-12) from across the Washington Metropolitan Area (Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, DC). For 2021, poems must focus on "the themes of isolation and/or community during the pandemic". Submit your entry using the sponsor's online submissions portal. Homeschool students in that age group are also eligible.
|RBC Bronwen Wallace Award for Emerging Writers||02/22/21||Individual Poems|
Deadline February 22 (must be received by this date; don't enter before January 7). Highly recommended free contest awards top prizes of C$10,000 apiece for poetry and fiction by Canadian authors under 35 with no published books. All finalists (three in each genre) also receive C$2,500, a mentorship opportunity, and an invitation to attend the virtual award ceremony. Genre usually alternates by year, but 2020 contest is for both poetry and fiction. Submit 5-10 pages of unpublished poetry OR a single unpublished story (or an excerpt from a longer piece of fiction), 2,500 words maximum, online. Sponsored by Writers' Trust of Canada.
|Black Caucus of the American Library Association Self-Published E-Book Literary Award||02/28/21||Published Poetry Book|
Published Prose Book
Deadline February 28 (must be received by this date). Recommended free contest awards two prizes of $500 for self-published e-books of fiction and poetry written by African-Americans that depict the "cultural, historical, or sociopolitical aspects of the Black Diaspora". Author must be the copyright holder of the English-language work and also hold the rights to digital distribution. Complete online submission process, which includes uploading the e-book file. Co-sponsored by the BCALA and BiblioLabs.
|Imagine Little Tokyo Short Story Contest||02/28/21||Short Fiction||Active||$500.00||Neutral|
Deadline February 28 (must be received by this date; don't enter before October 28). Neutral free contest awards three prizes of $500 in English-language, Japanese-language, and youth (under 18) divisions for unpublished stories set in past, present, or future Little Tokyo (Japanese-American region of Los Angeles). Maximum 2,500 words for English entries. Winning stories will be published in The Rafu Shimpo and Discover Nikkei website, and winners will be invited to a virtual award ceremony hosted at the Japanese American National Museum in Little Tokyo. Submit via email. Include a signed agreement, which can be found on the sponsor's website, along with your entry. Sponsored by the Little Tokyo Historical Society.