View our curated results of the best free literary contests!
|Name||Deadline||Type||Status||Top Prize||WW Rating|
|Iowa Short Fiction and John Simmons Short Fiction Awards||09/30/20||Prose Manuscript||Active||$0.00||Recommended|
Deadline September 30 (don't enter before August 1). Recommended free contest from the prestigious Iowa Writers' Workshop seeks two manuscripts of short fiction (each 150 double-spaced pages minimum) by authors who have not previously published books of prose fiction in English. (Books in other genres or languages and self-published books do not disqualify you.) Prize is publication under a standard royalty contract.
|Jerry Jazz Musician Fiction Contest||09/30/20||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.
|Johnson and Amoy Achong Caribbean Writers Prize||09/30/20||Poetry Manuscript|
Short Fiction & Creative Nonfiction
Deadline September 30 (must be received by this date; don't enter before July 23). Recommended free contest awards top prize of US$3,000 for a poetry collection in progress. Open to writers of Caribbean birth or citizenship, living and working in the Anglophone Caribbean, aged 18+. Writers must not have previously published a full-length poetry collection with a commercial publishing house. Eligible authors must have had at least two poems published previously. Submit one entry of 3-5 previously unpublished poems, maximum 120 lines total. No simultaneous submissions allowed. Along with the poetry sample, send an outline, 500-word statement, copy of 2 previously published poems, and a completed entry form. Enter via email.
|L. Ron Hubbard's Writers of the Future Contest||09/30/20||Short Fiction||Active||$6,000.00||Highly Recommended|
Deadlines March 31, June 30, September 30, December 31. Highly recommended free contest for emerging writers of short science fiction, fantasy, and horror awards quarterly prizes of $1,000 plus an annual $5,000 grand prize for one of the four winners. Send only one story per quarter, maximum 17,000 words. See website for eligibility rules. Entrants may not have professionally published a novel or short novel, or more than one novelette, or more than three short stories, in any medium.
|Michael Marks Awards for Poetry Pamphlets||09/30/20||Published Poetry Book||Active||£5,000.00||Highly Recommended|
Deadline September 30 (must be received by this date). Highly recommended free contest gives two top awards of 5,000 pounds: one for the author of a poetry chapbook written in English, Scots, or dialects of English and Scots and published or self-published in the UK between September 13 of the previous year and the contest deadline, and one for an outstanding UK publisher of poetry chapbooks. An additional award of 2,000 pounds is also given for the author of a chapbook written in a Celtic language and published in the UK during the same time frame specified previously. Winning poets will become Harvard University's Michael Marks Poets in Residence in Greece in the Spring following the deadline year. Books should be no more than 36 pages. Poet or publisher should send 6 copies of book and entry form. Co-sponsored by the Wordsworth Trust and the British Library.
|Owl Canyon Press Short Story Hackathon||09/30/20||Short Fiction||Active||$1,000.00||Neutral|
Deadline September 30 (must be received by this date; don't enter before August 1). Neutral free contest from Owl Canyon Press awards anthology publication and prizes up to $1,000 for a 20-paragraph short story (the 1st and 20th paragraphs are provided by the sponsor). No maximum word count, but each of the paragraphs needs to exceed 50 words apiece. Winner will also be invited to give a public reading at Inkberry Books in Niwot, Colorado. See complete rules on sponsor's website. Submit your story online. No $25 entry fee if submitted during the month of August.
|Victoria Literary Festival Writing Competition||09/30/20||Short Fiction||Active||C$350.00||Neutral|
Deadline September 30 (must be received by this date). Neutral free contest sponsored by a literary festival in Prince Edward Island, Canada, gives prizes up to C$350 and anthology publication for short stories, 1,400 words minimum, on a theme that changes annually. For 2020, the sponsor is offering prizes for two different themes: 'Hats Off' and 'Ghost Writer'. An author can submit stories in each of the two contests. Enter by mail AND email; submissions must be made in BOTH print and digital forms.
|Glenna Luschei Prize for African Poetry||10/01/20||Published Poetry Book||Active||$1,000.00||Highly Recommended|
Deadline October 1 (don't enter before May 1). Highly recommended free contest awards $1,000 for the best full-length collection of poetry published in the previous calendar year by an African national, African resident, or poet of African birth or African parentage. Translations are eligible; self-published books are not. Publisher should send an entry form and 4 copies of each nominated title to the African Poetry Book Fund at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
|Sator New Works Award||10/01/20||Prose Manuscript||Active||$2,500.00||Recommended|
Deadline October 1 (must be received by this date). Recommended free contest awards $2,500 and publication by Two Dollar Radio, an Ohio-based literary press, for a debut book of fiction or nonfiction by a transgender or nonbinary author. Enter online.
|International Booker Prize||10/02/20||Published Prose Book||Active||£25,000.00||Highly Recommended|
Deadlines October 2, November 6, January 8 (must be received by these dates; don't enter before July 6). Highly recommended free contest awards 25,000 pounds each for author and translator of an English translation of a novel or collection of short stories published in the UK or Ireland between May 1 of the deadline year and April 30 of the following year by an established UK/Ireland imprint. Author and translator need not be UK/Ireland citizens or residents, but entries must be submitted by an established UK/Ireland publisher. E-books and self-translated works welcome, but self-published titles are ineligible. Submit completed entry forms by October 2; send 8 copies of the work and other required materials specified in the contest's full rules of entry by November 6 (if slated for publication between May 1 and December 31, 2020) or January 8 (if slated for publication between January 1 and April 30, 2021). Sponsored by the Booker Prize Foundation and coordinated by Four Culture.
|John Glassco Translation Prize||10/02/20||Published Poetry Book|
Published Prose Book
Deadline October 2 (must be received by this date; don't enter before September 4). Neutral free contest from the Literary Translators' Association of Canada awards C$1,000 for an author's first book-length translation from any language into French or English, published between July 1 of the previous year and June 30 of the current year. Work may be poetry, fiction, drama, creative nonfiction, or children's book (all genres compete together). Contest is open to Canadian citizens or permanent residents. Translators can self-nominate. Submit four copies of translation, four copies of original book, and completed entry form; due to pandemic, also email digital files of all the required materials to the sponsor.
|Women's Prize for Fiction||10/05/20||Published Prose Book||Active||£30,000.00||Highly Recommended|
Deadlines September 25, October 5, November 9 (must be received by these dates; don't enter before September 14). Highly recommended free contest offers 30,000 pounds for full-length novels (no short story collections or novellas) by women, first published in the UK between April 1 of the current year and March 31 of the following year. Deadline varies depending on title's publication schedule. Translations and self-published books are not eligible. No fee, but publishers must contribute significantly toward the publicity budget for shortlisted books. Publishers should read detailed eligibility conditions on website closely before submitting. Publishers with a list of more than 5 fiction titles may submit up to 2 book-length novels per bona fide imprint; publishers with a list of 5 fiction titles or fewer may submit 1 book-length novel per bona fide imprint. Publishers must complete online entry form and send both a print ready PDF file and 10 hard copies for each submitted title. It is the UK's most prestigious annual book award for fiction written by a woman. Formerly known as the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction, it is now simply the Women's Prize for Fiction.
|North Carolina State Fiction Contest||10/13/20||Short Fiction||Active||$500.00||Neutral|
Deadline October 13. Neutral free contest for North Carolina authors with no published fiction books awards $500 for fiction (up to 5,000 words) and $250 for shorter fiction (up to 1,200 words). Authors may enter one story in each category. UNC professors/instructors and previous winners are ineligible. Entries may not have been published previously either in print or online. No emailed entries accepted. Prior to 2011, the fiction contest was known as the Brenda L. Smart Award for Fiction. Subsequently renamed the James Hurst Prize for Fiction.
|Amy Lowell Poetry Travelling Scholarship||10/15/20||Fellowship||Active||$60,500.00||Highly Recommended|
Deadline October 15 (must be received by this date). Highly recommended free contest awards a fellowship of about $60,500 for US poets, to fund a year of travel outside North America. Entrants must be US citizens by virtue of birth in the US, or birth outside the US to an American citizen parent who was born in the US. While contest is open to all, poets with significant publishing credits have the best chance. Send two copies of application and include 40 pages of poetry OR published book and maximum 20 pages of additional (more recent) poetry. See website for other required materials.
|Oregon Literary Fellowships||10/30/20||Fellowship|
Deadline October 30 (must be received by this date; don't enter before August 24). Highly recommended free contest awards two fellowships of $10,000 each and nine fellowships of $3,500 apiece to full-time Oregon residents, particularly those in the early stages of their writing career and demonstrating exceptional talent, in the following genres: poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, drama, and young readers literature. Two fellowships (one $10,000 grant and one $3,500 grant) are reserved specifically for writers of color. There are also fellowships for women/gender-nonconforming writers as well as special fellowships for fiction writers who have lived in Oregon over the past 5 years. All genres compete together, and the total number of fellowships varies from year to year depending on funding. Fellowship recipients in the last 5 years (2016-20) are ineligible for this 2021 cycle. Submit three copies of up to 15 pages of poetry or 25 pages of prose with the required entry form online. To apply for the larger grant, also submit your 2-page artist's CV, 1-page artist's statement, and 1-page impact statement.
|ALCS Tom-Gallon Trust Award||10/31/20||Short Fiction||Active||£1,000.00||Recommended|
Deadline October 31 (must be received by this date; don't enter before August 4). Recommended free contest from the Society of Authors gives top prize of 1,000 pounds for a short story (5,000 words maximum) by a resident of the United Kingdom, Commonwealth, or the Republic of Ireland who has had at least one short story published or accepted for publication. Previously published work accepted. Complete your entry form and upload your story online.
|Benjamin Franklin House Literary Prize||10/31/20||Short Fiction & Creative Nonfiction||Active||£750.00||Recommended|
Deadline October 31 (must be received by this date). Recommended free contest for UK residents aged 18-25 gives prizes up to 750 pounds for short fiction or essays of 1,000-1,500 words on a question exploring Franklin's relevance in our time. 2020 theme is the Benjamin Franklin quote: "Glass, China, and Reputation are easily crack'd, and never well mended." Entrants should interpret this quote for its significance today. Enter by email.
|Eric Gregory Awards||10/31/20||Individual Poems||Active||£4,000.00||Highly Recommended|
Deadline October 31 (must be received by this date; don't enter before August 4). Highly recommended free contest gives prizes totaling 20,000 pounds for a collection of up to 30 poems, drama-poems, or belles-lettres, maximum 50 pages total, by a writer who will be under age 30 as of March 31 of the year following the deadline. The author must be a British national or a resident in Great Britain and Northern Ireland for at least three years. Previously published work accepted. Submit your application and poems online.
|Lex:lead Essay Competition||10/31/20||Scholarly Essay||Active||$500.00||Neutral|
Deadlines October 31 (must be registered online by this date) and December 31 (must be received by this date; don't enter before December 1). Neutral free contest awards up to 17 one-time scholarships of $500 each for English-language essays on a law and economic development topic that changes annually, written by law students who are studying in and citizens of the world's least developed countries, across Africa, Asia, and the Americas. See list of eligible nations in sponsor's downloadable rules document. For 2020, the question to be addressed is "How can laws promoting gender and disability rights support economic development?" Although any and all references used by the writer must be cited within the essay, sponsor is "looking for insight and ideas that solve the problem posed; not a review of academic literature on the subject". Send your essay, maximum 5 single-spaced pages, via email. Based in New York City, Lex:lead is a nonprofit organization of lawyers seeking to create greater economic advancement and development worldwide.
|McKitterick Prize||10/31/20||Published Prose Book|
Deadline October 31 (must be received by this date; don't enter before August 4). Highly recommended free contest awards 4,000 pounds for a first novel by an author over age 40 as of the deadline date. The work must either have been first published in the UK in the year in which the deadline falls (and not first published abroad), or be unpublished. Submit application online; send 5 copies of the published book or upload a digital version of the book, OR upload the first 30 pages of the manuscript. Sponsored by the Society of Authors and named after Tom McKitterick, the former editor of Political Quarterly.
|Nancy Thorp Poetry Contest||10/31/20||Individual Poems||Active||$350.00||Recommended|
Deadline October 31 (must be received by this date). Recommended free poetry contest for female/female-identified high school sophomores and juniors (grades 10-11) gives top prize of $350, a $5,000 annually renewable scholarship if winner enrolls at Hollins, publication in Cargoes (Hollins' student literary magazine), as well as expenses paid to the summer creative writing program. No simultaneous submissions permitted; entries must not be under consideration elsewhere. To enter, student must have a faculty sponsor at her high school or preparatory school. Submit up to 2 poems online.
|PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction||10/31/20||Published Prose Book||Active||$15,000.00||Highly Recommended|
Deadline October 31 (must be received by this date; don't enter before July 1). Highly recommended free contest for books of fiction (novels, novellas, and short story collections) by US permanent residents published in the current year gives top prize of $15,000, four runners-up of $5,000. Email an easy-to-read PDF of book to sponsor. Recent winners have been well-established writers such as Philip Roth, Sherman Alexie, and John Updike.
|Perito Prize||10/31/20||Short Fiction||Active||£500.00||Neutral|
Deadline October 31 (must be received by this date; don't enter before January 1). Neutral free contest gives top prize of 500 pounds and anthology publication for a short story, 1,000-2,000 words, on the theme of accessibility, inclusion, and inclusive design. Enter by email. Perito Ltd. is a UK-based environmental design consultancy that provides disabled accessibility, inclusivity and diversity, inclusive environment, and residential building surveying services.