Literary Contests for Unpublished Writers

Now that wintery weather is starting to kick in (at least here in the Northeast), it's time to hibernate and start entering all those writing contests you've been putting off over the summer. If you would like a professional edit before you enter, please contact me for a 10% discount by referencing this blog post in your initial email.

Good luck to you all!

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. Contests are organized by deadline.


WhoLee & Low Books New Visions Award
What: Middle grade or young adult novel by an unpublished writer of color. Only unagented manuscripts will be accepted. See more guidelines here.
When: Deadline is midnight on October 31, 2016 (give yourself time to upload all the necessary documents!).
Where: Must be a resident of the US.
Why: The winner will receive $1,000 and a Lee & Low publication contract (including advance and royalties). An Honor Award winner receives $500.

WhoMcKitterick Prize
What: First novel (unpublished or published in the UK only) by an author over the age of 40. Must be a work of fiction. Guidelines found here.
When: Deadline is October 31, 2016.
Where: Must be written in English (no translations).
Why: Winner receives £4,000 and the runner-up £1,000.

WhoGlimmer Train–three contests
WhatShort Story Award for New WritersFamily MattersStandard Submissions. There is an $18 reading fee per submission except for the Standard Submissions process, which is $2. 
When: Deadlines are, respectively, October 31, 2016; January 2, 2017; November 30, 2016.
Where: No specifications. 
Why: Winners for the short story and family matters categories each win $2,500 and publication in Glimmer Train. If you are selected for submission under the standard process, you receive $700 and publication in Glimmer Train.

Who: Walt Whitman Award
What: A first-book publication contest for poets. Manuscripts must be 48-100 pages, single-spaced and the entry fee is $35. More guidelines can be found here.
When: Deadline is November 1, 2016.
Where: Applicants must be a US citizen, or be a ten-year US resident, or have DACA/LPS/TPS status.
Why: The winner receives $5,000, an all-expenses-paid six-week residency in Italy, and "distribution of the winning book to thousands of Academy of American Poets members."

WhoThe Masters Review Fall Fiction Contest
What: A 7,000 word or less fiction story by an emerging writer. $20 entry fee.
When: Deadline is November 15, 2016.
Where: International submissions welcome.
Why: $2,000 and publication in The Masters Review.

WhoSCBWI On-the-Verge Emerging Voices Award
What: A work of children's fiction/picture book by a writer and/or illustrator from a traditionally under-represented ethnic group. Self-published works may be considered.
When: Deadline is November 15, 2016.
Where: No specifications, but must be written in English.
Why: Two writers or writers/illustrators will receive a paid trip to the SCBWI Summer Conference in Los Angeles (accommodation to be shared with other winner), tuition to the Summer Conference, manuscript consultation, and publicity.

WhoSycamore Review Wabash Prizes in Fiction and Poetry
What: A contest for fiction writers and/or poets (entrants may submit multiple works). $20 fee per submission (you will receive a copy of the prize issue for entering).
When: Deadline is November 15, 2016.
Where: No specifications.
Why: Winners in each category will receive $1,000 and publication in Sycamore Review.

WhoWriter's Digest Short Story Competition
What: A 1,500 word short story competition for unpublished writers. Submission fee is $20-$25 (depending on when you submit). More details here.
When: Deadline is November 15, 2016.
Where: Must be written in English. Entrants from most countries can submit.
Why: First prize is $3,000, publication in Writer's Digest, and a paid trip to the Writer's Digest Conference. Twenty-five runners up will receive varying amounts of cash prizes and publication.

WhoBath Children's Novel Award
What: Novels written for children and young adults. £22 entry fee per novel.
When: Deadline is November 20, 2016.
Where: Any nationality accepted.
Why: First prize is £2,000. This is the second year of the prize; in the first year, the winner and runner-up were both signed by an agency. An agent is one of the judges as well.

WhoBoulevard Short Fiction Contest for Emerging Writers
What: Fiction, poetry, or creative nonfiction that has not been published with a nationally distributed press. $16 entry fee.
When: Deadline is December 31, 2016.
Where: No specifications.
Why: Winner gets $1,500 and publication in Boulevard.

WhoThe Nine Dots Prize
What: A new prize that asks entrants to respond to a question focusing on contemporary societal issues in 3,000 words. Authors may work together to respond and submit the required materials. More details can be found here.
When: Deadline is January 31, 2017.
Where: Responses must be in English and entrants must be over 18.
Why: The winner receives $100,000 to turn their idea into a book, which will be edited and published by Cambridge University Press.

WhoRestless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing–Nonfiction
What: A prize for first-generation US residents who have never had a nonfiction book published with a US publishing house.
When: Deadline is February 28, 2017.
Where: Candidates must be first-generation residents of the US (those born in another country who relocated or American-born residents whose parents were born in another country). Submissions must be in English (translations welcome).
Why: A $10,000 advance, publication with Restless Books, and editorial guidance.

WhoHunger Mountain Contests–four contests
WhatHoward Frank Mosher Short Fiction PrizeHunger Mountain Creative Nonfiction PrizeRuth Stone Poetry PrizeKatherine Paterson Prize for YA and Children’s Writing. You may enter more than one contest, but each submission costs $20.
When: Every contest has the same deadline: March 1, 2017.
Where: US and international entrants welcome. 
Why: A winner from each category will win $1,000 and publication in Hunger Mountain. Runners-up in each category will win $200 and consideration for publication.

WhoColorado State University Nelligan Prize for Short Fiction
What: A short story contest for unpublished works. Multiple stories may be submitted, though there is a $15 fee per story. See guidelines here.
When: Entries must be received between December 1, 2016 and March 14, 2017.
Where: You do not need to be a Colorado or US resident to enter.
Why: $2,000 and publication in the fall/winter 2017 issue of Colorado Review.

WhoJames Jones First Novel Fellowship
What: Unpublished writers who have not had a novel published. $30 entry fee.
When: Deadline is March 17, 2017.
Where: US citizens only.
Why: The first prize is $10,000 and two runners-up receive $1,000 each.

WhoKiller Nashville Claymore Award
What: Unpublished crime literature manuscripts (submit the first 50 pages). $40 entry fee or $140 to receive a critique. More details here.
When: Deadline is April 30, 2017.
Where: No specifications.
Why: The winner receives $525 worth of redeemable prizes (such as admission to and critiques at the Killer Nashville conference) and possible representation. There are also three runners-up and ten finalists.

Who: St. Francis College Literary Prize
What: This is a rare prize for mid-career authors who are between their third and fifth books that have been, or will be, published between June 2015-May 2017. Self-published books and English translations may also be entered.
When: Entries must be received between November 1, 2016 and May 15, 2017.
Where: No specifications. Translations into English welcome.
Why: The winning author receives $50,000 and will be announced at the 2017 Brooklyn Book Festival.