Your Ultimate Guide to Writing Contests for 2024
I first published a writing competition guide in 2022 and it was so popular, I've updated it for 2024 for this week's blog post. If you're a planner like me, I love outlining my year ahead, not just in term of writing goals but also for literary events, writing competitions, authors I'd like to meet and so on. (Yes, I know we're only in September but what can I say...I love having stuff to look forward to!)
Writing competitions are an incredible opportunity to get your work in front of industry professionals so in this week’s blog post I’ve curated a list of contests - most of which are an international competition - that you may want to consider as part of your author journey.
In fact you may (or may not) know that my own author career started as a result of winning a writing competition in 2016 which led to a 3-book deal. While it can be nerve-wracking to submit your work, the benefits far outweigh any discomfort, helping you understand where you need to improve, who the competition is, and what the publishing industry is looking for.
If you win, there’s often a cash prize along with the prestige that comes from winning first place. However, even if you're not a grand prize winner taking home prize money, coming in second place, third place, or having an honorable mention in a literary magazine is a fantastic confidence boost. Imagine how good it would feel to share your winning story on social media!
So if you’re serious about your writing and becoming a published author, check out my round up of upcoming writing competitions, many of which have submissions open now. As many of you are from all around the world these are not just United States based; the majority of these are open to international entries.
While this blog mainly focuses on adults entrants, for writing contests for college students, high school students, and young writers, I would suggest looking at the New York Times student contest calendar . There are lots of student writing contests to choose from, many of which are open to young people all around the world and they cover lots of submission types including personal essay contests, short story competitions, science fiction, letters, flash fiction, diary entries, songs, raps, and even visuals such as graphic novels and illustrations. Check out this link to see which might work best.
The competitions covered below mainly focus on a work of fiction although in some cases you can compete with non-fiction or a poetry collection. Most writing contests require unpublished work and I'm sure I don't need to add that it must be your original work!
When reviewing these competitions, please do check the terms and conditions carefully, focusing on requirements such as word count, minimum and maximum length, and what contact information should be added and where it should be included (usually, judges of an annual contest prefer to read submissions anonymously.) I've added entry fees in local currency and there are often options for fee reductions depending on your circumstances.
Prize: There will be five winners, one from each region (Africa, Asia, Canada and Europe, Caribbean, Pacific).
The overall winner will receive £5,000 and the remaining four regional winners £2,500.
Entry fee: Free
Deadline: November 1, 2023
About: The Commonwealth Short Story Prize is an annual award for unpublished short fiction administered and funded by the Commonwealth Foundation. The story should be adult fiction and entrants must be citizens of a Commonwealth country . Submissions are accepted in English, Bengali, Chinese, Creole, English, French, Greek, Malay, Maltese, Portuguese, Samoan, Swahili, Tamil, and Turkish.
Prize: $3,000 in cash, published in Writer’s Digest magazine, and a paid trip to the Writer’s Digest Conference. There are also cash prizes for second, third, and fourth places.
Entry fee: Early-Bird $30, Final $35
Early-Bird Deadline: November 15, 2023
Final Deadline: December, 15, 2023
About: Submit a 1500 word short-story (or less) to the Writer's Digest Short Story Competition for an opportunity to win cash prizes and publication in the magazine. Open to all.
Prize: First prize - £1000 plus a trophy and five runners up will receive £100 and a paperweight
Entry fee: £20 (or £120 with appraisal)
Deadline: January 1, 2024
About: The competition is open to everyone, living anywhere in the world, published, self-published or yet to be published, who does not have representation by a literary agent, and who does not receive a contract from a commercial publisher by the closing date.
Prize: $1,000 advance and standard contract option to publish with Unleash Press for one winning manuscript
Entry fee: $35
Deadline: December 15, 2023
About: Unleash Press are looking for submissions for novels, short story collections, and creative nonfiction manuscripts. 5. First Novel Prize
Prize: 1st place: £1000, Shortlist Prize: £500
Entry fee: £25
Deadline: Submissions open February 1, 2024
About: The First Novel Prize aims to discover a powerful new voice in fiction writing, across the English language world. Prizes are available for unpublished or independently published novelists. The submission should be over 50,000 words and of an adult genre. 6. Mississippi Review Contest
Entry Fee: $16
Deadline: January 1, 2024
About: The contest is open to all writers in English except current or former students or employees of The University of Southern Mississippi. Fiction and non-fiction entries should be 1000-8000 words; poetry entries should be three to five poems totaling ten pages or less. 7. The Disquiet Prize
Prize: a full scholarship, accommodation, and travel stipend to attend the tenth annual DISQUIET International Literary Program in Lisbon (June 23-July 5, 2024). Genre winners will receive a tuition waiver for DISQUIET 2024 in addition to publication. Winners who are unable to attend the progam in Lisbon may elect to receive a $1000 cash prize in lieu of the tuition waiver. Deadline: January 5, 2024
Entry fee: $15
About: The DISQUIET Prize is open for submissions in fiction, poetry, and non-fiction.
As more annual awards are announced, I will add the details to this blog post so do check back occasionally and in the meantime, I would urge you to work on your unpublished manuscript - you just never know, your idea could be a winning entry and lead you to becoming one of the many published authors who have cemented their writing career this way. Best of luck!
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©2023 Karen Osman, New York, USA