Literary Contests for Unpublished Writers

The number of literary contests can be overwhelming, so what I'm going to do is focus on the awards for unpublished writers and let you know about upcoming deadlines every few months.

If you decide to enter one of these competitions, but would like a professional edit first, please contact me for a 10% discount by referencing this blog post in your initial email. Even if you don't want an edit, I'd love to hear from anyone who decides to submit for these writing contests!

Please note that self-published works are often not accepted, and the majority of entries are submitted anonymously. Be sure to read the guidelines carefully.

writing contests open until april 30th, 2016

WhoAWP (Association of Writers and Writing Programs) Award Series
What: Novels, poetry, short fiction, and creative nonfiction. Entry fee is $20 for non-members. See guidelines for the various submissions.
When: Deadline is February 28th, 2016.
Where: Worldwide, but must be written in English.
Why: Winners receive $5,500 for poetry and short fiction or $2,500 for the novel and creative nonfiction.

WhoFloris Books: Kelpies Prize
What: Children's books set primarily in Scotland with Scottish characters. Entrants can only submit one manuscript for one of the following age groups: 6-8 year olds; 8-11 year olds; and 11-14 year olds. For more information, see full guidelines as well as the terms and conditions.
When: Deadline is February 29th, 2016.
Where: Worldwide, but must be written in English.
Why: Winners receive £2,000 and will have their novel published in the Kelpies range by Floris Books.

Who: Go On Girl Book Club: Unpublished Writer Award
What: Submissions must be an original, unpublished work of fiction (short story or novel excerpt), no more than 2,000 words. Applicant must be a US citizen of African descent. See full guidelines for more information.
When: Deadline is March 15th every year.
Where: US citizens residing in the United States.
Why: Winner receives $1,000 and will be invited to attend the annual award ceremony.

WhoJames Jones First Novel Fellowship
What: Novels that have never been published and writers who have never had a novel published (though entrants may have published other types of work i.e. short stories or nonfiction). Entry fee is $33. See guidelines and FAQ for further information.
When: Deadline is March 15th, 2016.
Where: US citizens only.
Why: Winner receives $10,000 and two runners-up receive $1,000 each.

WhoTo the Lighthouse & Clarissa Dalloway Book Prizes
What: Unpublished poetry collection and an "everything but poetry" manuscript (i.e. young adult, memoir, graphic novels etc.). Both must be authored by women. Entry fee is $20. See FAQ and guidelines for more information on each prize.
When: Deadline is April 1st, 2016.
Where: Open to women writers of any nationality, but must be written in English.
Why: Winners receive $1,000 plus publication and promotion.

Who: The Bath Novel Award
What: Novels written for adults or young adults: submit first 5,000 words plus the synopsis. Entry fee is £22. See full guidelines for details and an interview with the literary agent judge.
When: Deadline is April 10th, 2016.
Where: Worldwide, but must be written in English.
Why: First prize is £2,000 (approx. $3,000).

Who: The Claymore Award
What: The first 50 pages of a mystery or thriller novel. Entry fee is $30. Previously published authors may enter as long as the submitted manuscript is unpublished. Click here for more information.
When: Deadline is April 30th, 2016.
Where: Unknown if US-specific or not.
Why: $3,000 in prizes, plus possible agent representation/book publication.

Who: Bristol Short Story Prize
What: Short stories of any genre open to unpublished and published writers, though the submission itself must be unpublished. Entry fee is £8. See the full list of rules for more details.
When: Deadline is April 30th, 2016.
Where: Worldwide, but must be written in English.
Why: First prize is £1,000, second prize is £700, third prize is £400, and 17 shortlist winners receive £100.