There are nearly two dozen writing contests in October. All are free (no entry fees). Some of the prizes are in the tens of thousands of dollars. Others are more modest. (But a prize is a prize. You still get to say you are a prize-winning author if you win.)
Many of these contests are offered annually. If you want to plan ahead, see Free Contests for a month-by-month list of all contests offered throughout the year.
The Marfield Prize, also known as the National Award for Arts Writing, is given annually by the Arts Club of Washington to nonfiction books about the arts written for a broad audience. Genre: Non-fiction book. Self-published books not accepted. Prize: $10,000. Deadline: October 1, 2016. Read details here.
Red Dragonfly New Writing Competition. Restrictions: Open to UK residents from British East Asian, South Asian and South East Asian communities. Genre: 30-minute play. Prize: £1000. Deadline: October 1, 2016. Read details here.
Bop Dead City. Genre: Prose and poetry on theme of Apologies. Prize: $20. Deadline: October 1, 2016. Read details here.
RBC Taylor Prize for Literary Nonfiction. Restrictions: Open to published Canadian authors. Genre: Nonfiction book. Prize: CAN$25,000.00. Deadline: October 2, 2016 for books published between August 1 and September 30, 2016.
The Glenna Luschei Prize for African Poetry, sponsored by the African Poetry Book Fund and in partnership with the literary journal, Prairie Schooner, is the only one of its kind in the world and was established to promote African poetry written in English or in translation and to recognize a significant book published each year by an African poet. A standard edition is 48 pages or more in length. Genre: Open to any book of original poetry, in English, published during 2015 in a standard edition by a full-length collection of poetry. Restrictions: African nationals, African residents, or poet of African parentage with roots from any country, living anywhere in the world. Prize: USD $5,000. Deadline: October 1, 2016. Read details here.
Royal Institute of Philosophy Essay Prize. Topic: Can there be a credible philosophy of history? Prize: £2,500 top prize. Deadline: October 3, 2016. Read details here.
American Antiquarian Society Fellowships for Creative Writers is calling for applications for visiting fellowships for historical research by creative and performing artists, writers, film makers, journalists, and other persons whose goals are to produce imaginative, non-formulaic works dealing with pre-twentieth-century American history. Successful applicants are those whose work is for the general public rather than for academic or educational audiences. The Society’s goal in sponsoring this program is to multiply and improve the ways in which an understanding of history is communicated to the American people. Prize: A stipend of $1,150 to $1,350 and on-campus housing is provided; fellows residing off-campus receive $1,850. Deadline: October 5, 2016. Read details here.
Man Booker International Prize. The Man Booker International Prize for fiction translated into English is awarded annually by the Booker Prize Foundation to the author of the best (in the opinion of the judges) eligible novel or collection of short stories. Prize: £50,000 divided equally between the author and the translator. There will be a prize of £2,000 each of the shortlisted titles divided equally between the author and the translator. Deadline: October 7, 2016. Read details here.
Austrian Cultural Forum New York Translation Prize. Genre: A translation-in-progress from German into English of a work of Austrian poetry or prose published after 1945. Prize: $5,000. Deadline: October 10, 2016. Read details here.
The NC State Short Story Contests. Restrictions: Open to all North Carolina residents except 1) tenured/tenure-track professors in the University of North Carolina system or 2) writers with a published book, 3) previous winners. Genres: An unpublished SHORT STORY of no more than 20 double-spaced pages; limit 5000 words OR an unpublished SHORT-SHORT FICTION story of no more than 5 double-spaced typed pages; limit 1200 words. Prizes: James Hurst Fiction Prize for the winning story is $500. There will also be some Honorable Mention awards. Prize for short-short is $250. Deadline: October 11, 2016. Read details here.
Amy Lowell Poetry Traveling Scholarship. Restrictions: Poet must be born in the United States. Genre: Poetry. The sample must not exceed either (1) 40 typed pages or (2) one printed volume plus no more than 20 typed pages of your most recent work. There is no minimum page requirement. Prize: $54,000 for a year of travel and study abroad. Deadline: October 15, 2016. Read details here.
Arrowhead Regional Arts Council Career Development Grants. Restrictions: Writers who are U.S. citizens and have lived in Aitkin, Carlton, Cook, Itasca, Koochiching, Lake, or St. Louis counties in northeastern Minnesota for at least six months are eligible. Genre: Poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction. Prize: $3,000 grant. Deadline: October 28, 2016. Read details here.
Penguin Random House — Daily Mail UK New Novelist Competition. Restrictions: Open to anyone aged 16 or over who is a resident of the UK or Republic of Ireland, except for employees (and their families) of the Penguin Random House UK group, Associated Newspapers Ltd and any other company associated with the competition.Genre: Entrants must never have had a novel published before (in any format, including ebook or self-published) and must be 16 or over. Prize: £20,000 top prize (advance fee). Submissions: Daily Mail First Novel Competition, c/o Penguin Random House Group, 20 Vauxhall Bridge Road, London SW1V 2SA. Deadline: October 30, 2016.
The Nancy Thorp Poetry Contest is sponsored by Hollins University. Restrictions: Open to young women who are sophomores or juniors in high school or preparatory school. Genre: Poetry. Prize: Up to $5,000 renewable annual Creative Talent Scholarship in creative writing if winner enrolls at Hollins. Free tuition and housing for the university’s Hollins summer creative writing program. $200 cash prize. Publication in Cargoes, Hollins’ award-winning student literary magazine. Ten copies of Cargoes. Deadline: October 31, 2016. Read details here.
PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction is the most prestigious literary award in the US. Restrictions: Authors must be living American citizens. Self-published works not accepted. Genres: Novels, novellas, and collections of short stories. Prize: $15,000. Deadline: October 31, 2016. Read details here
The Benjamin Franklin House Literary Prize. Restrictions: Entrants must be aged 18–25 years and living in the UK. Genre: Fiction and nonfiction. Each year a question or quote exploring Franklin’s relevance in our time is open for interpretation in 1000–1500 words. Prize: First prize of £750, second prize of £500. Winning entries will be posted on the website and also published online by The Telegraph. Deadline: October 31, 2016. Read details here.
Burt Award for Caribbean Literature. Restrictions: Caribbean authors age 12 through 18. Genres: Published books, previously self-published books, and unpublished manuscripts are eligible for the Award. Prize: First Prize of $10,000 CAD, a Second Prize of $7,000 CAD and a Third Prize of $5,000 CAD. Deadline: October 31, 2016. Read details here.
The Eric Gregory Awards. Restrictions: Applicants must be under 30 and a British subject by birth and must ordinarily be resident in the United Kingdom or Northern Ireland. Genre: Poetry collection. Previously published work accepted. Prize: £4,000.00. Deadline: October 31, 2016.
McKitterick Prize. Restrictions: Open to authors over age 40 on December 31, 2015. Genre: First novel. The work must have been first published in the UK in the year in which the deadline falls (and not first published abroad), or be unpublished. Prize: £4,000.00. Deadline: October 31, 2016.
Tom-Gallon Trust Award. Restrictions: Open to citizens of the United Kingdom, Commonwealth or the Republic of Ireland with at least one short story published or accepted for publication. Genre: Short story, maximum 5,000 words. May be unpublished. Prize: £1,000.00. Deadline: October 31, 2016. Read details here.
Lee & Low Books New Visions Award. Restrictions: Open to writers of color who are residents of the United States and who have not previously had a middle grade or young adult novel published. Genre: Middle grade or young adult novel. Prize: $1,000 and their standard publication contract, including their basic advance and royalties for a first time author. An Honor Award winner will receive a cash prize of $500. Deadline: October 31, 2016. Read details here.
Ouen Press Short Story Competition 2016. Genre: True story about a journey. Prize: £300 top prize. Deadline: October 31, 2016.
The Print Express Haiku Competition. Genre: Haiku. Deadline: October 31, 2016. Prize: £100 in Amazon vouchers. Deadline: October 31, 2016.
Originally published at publishedtodeath.blogspot.com on September 27, 2016.
About the author: Erica Verrillo has published five books, four with major publishers and one on her own. She blogs about the publishing world, posts useful tips on how to get an agent, lists agents who are looking for clients as well as publishers accepting manuscripts directly from writers, explains how to market and promote your work, how to build your online platform, how to get reviews, how to self-publish, and where to find markets for your work on Publishing … and Other Forms of Insanity.