This October there are more than two dozen writing contests calling for every genre and form, from poetry, to creative nonfiction, to completed novels. Prizes range from $25,000 to publication. None charge entry fees.
Some of these contests have age and geographical restrictions, so read the instructions carefully.
If you want to get a jump on next month’s contests go to Free Contests. Most of these contests are offered annually, so even if the deadline is past, you can prepare for next year.
The Governor General’s Literary Awards. Restrictions: Books must have been written, translated or illustrated by Canadian citizens or permanent residents of Canada. Genre: Best English-language and the best French-language book will be chosen in each of the seven categories of Fiction, Literary Non-fiction, Poetry, Drama, Children’s Literature (text), Children’s Literature (illustrated books) and Translation (from French to English). Prize: $1,000 — $25,000. Deadline: Nominations by publishers for books in English must reach the Canada Council no later than October 1, 2020.
Bergen International Essay Competition. Restrictions: Open to everybody under the age of 30. Genre: Essay on theme of My generation. Prize: The winner will receive EUR 2 500. Three runners up each receive EUR 500. Deadline: October 1, 2020.
Patricia Dobler Poetry Award. Restrictions: Open to women writers over the age of 40 who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents, currently living in the U.S., who have not published a full-length book of poetry, fiction, or non-fiction. Genre: Poetry. Prize: $2,500 top prize and publication of the winning poem in Voices from the Attic. Deadline: October 1, 2020.
The Critical Junior Poet’s Award. Restrictions: Open to students between the ages of 13 and 18. Genre: Poetry. Prize: $100. Deadline: October 1, 2020.
Perito Prize. Genre: Fiction about accessibility. Prize: £250 and the story will be uploaded to the Perito Prize section of the Perito Ltd website. Deadline: October 1, 2020.
Royal Institute of Philosophy Essay Prize. Topic: Knowledge, Truth and Power in an Online World. Prize: £2,500 top prize. Deadline: October 1, 2020.
Bethune & Son Texas Short Story Competition. Genre: Unpublished short stories with the Texas theme: “Life and Stories from the Texas Gulf Coast.” Prize: Up to $1,000. Deadline: October 2, 2020.
John Glassco Translation Prize. Sponsored by Literary Translators’ Association of Canada. Restrictions: Open to Canadian citizens or permanent residents only. Genre: The work submitted must be the translator’s first published book-length translation into English or French. The book must have been published between July 1, 2017 and June 30, 2018. Prize: $1000. Deadline: October 2, 2020.
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 2, 2020.
The Furious Gazelle’s 2020 Halloween Writing Contest. Genre: Halloween-themed poetry, fiction, short plays and creative non-fiction. Prize: $50. Deadline: October 5, 2020.
Pass or Pages. Genre: Novel. Prize: Possible agent representation. Deadline: October 5–9, 2020. (Genre revealed September 22)
Bath Flash Fiction Award. Genre: Flash fiction (300 words max). Prize: £1000 prize for the winner, £300 second and £100 third. Two commendations £30 each. Deadline: October 11, 2020.
Dream Foundry. Restrictions: Conditions: You have published a total of less than 4,000 words of paid or income-earning speculative fiction in English. You have earned a total of less than USD 320 from those words. You have never been nominated for any award listed here as a major award in speculative fiction. Genre: Short speculative fiction, up to 10,000 words. Prize: $1,000. Deadline: October 11, 2020.
Grub Street: Writing Black Joy: True Stories From Real People. Restrictions: Open to any resident over the age of 18 in New England (Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine) and New York state. Genre: True stories between 500 and 1000 words. Submissions can be in any genre: prose, poetry, or cross-genre. “During a time when the news is mostly dispiriting, we want to read true stories about joy — specifically Black joy: moments, scenes, memories, that celebrate Black families, relationships, culture, and history. We are looking for a vivid story that is transporting and meaningful — maybe funny, maybe poignant, but always with joy at its center.” Prize: The winner will receive $1000, 2nd place $750, and 3rd place $500. Deadline: October 12, 2020.
North Carolina State Fiction Contest. Restrictions: Open to residents of North Carolina with no published fiction books. Genre: Short stories. Prize: $500 for fiction (up to 5,000 words) and $250 for shorter fiction (up to 1,200 words). Deadline: October 13, 2020.
Expatriate and Work Abroad Travel Writing Contest. Genre: Essays about working abroad. Prize: Up to $500. Deadline: October 15, 2020.
A Public Space Emerging Writer Fellowships. Restrictions: Open to writers who have not yet contracted to publish a book.Prize: $1000 and six months of editorial support from A Public Space editors to prepare a piece of prose for publication in the magazine. Deadline: October 15, 2020.
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: $60,500 for a year of travel and study abroad. Deadline: October 15, 2020.
Bronx Council on the Arts Community Engagement Grants. Restrictions: Open to residents of Bronx County. Genre: All art forms, including writing. Grant: $1000 — $500. Deadline: October 19, 2020.
The Orwell Prize for Political Fiction. Restrictions: The Orwell Prize for Political Fiction is open to novels and short story collections first published in the UK or Ireland in the calendar year 2020. Genre: Fiction that explores ideas and issues, political themes, dilemmas and injustices through imagined narratives. Prize: £3,000.00. Deadline: October 30, 2020.
Dinesh Allirajah Prize for Short Fiction. Restrictions: Open to residents of UK. Genre: Short stories between 2000–6000 words on the theme “Home.” Prize: £500 and 10 shortlisted authors will be published in an ebook anthology. Deadline: October 23, 2020.
Oregon Literary Fellowships. Fellowships of $3,000 each are given annually to Oregon writers to initiate, develop, or complete literary projects in poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction. One Women Writers Fellowship and one Writer of Color Fellowship of $3,000 each are also given annually. Submit three copies of up to 15 pages of poetry or 25 pages of prose with the required entry from. Deadline: October 30, 2020.
The John Byrne Award. Restrictions: Open to residents of Scotland. Genre: A piece of creative work on a chosen theme or value (written work must be no more than 15,000 words in length). Prize: £7500. Deadline: October 31, 2020.
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, 2020.
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, 2020.
The Young Walter Scott Prize. Restrictions: Open to UK authors aged 11–19. Genre: Historical fiction between 800 and 2000 words. Prizes: £500 travel and research grant to further explore historical places in the UK, and an invitation to the Borders Book Festival in Melrose, Scotland. Two runners-up in each category receive a £100 book token, and all four winning stories are published in a special YWSP anthology book. Deadline: October 31, 2020.
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, 2020.
Lex:lead Essay Competition. Restrictions: Candidates must show citizenship in an eligible country and be enrolled in studies with at least one law class in an eligible country at the time of the award. Genre: Essay: How can laws promoting gender and disability rights support economic development? Prize: $500 scholarship. Deadline: October 31, 2020.
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, 2020.
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, 2020.
McKitterick Prize. Restrictions: Open to authors over age 40 on December 31, 2020. 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, 2020.
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