Writing contests

12 international writing contests to enter this year

Writing contests are useful for developing your writing craft and giving yourself a deadline to finish something polished. Often, you receive valuable feedback from experienced judges. It’s best to see writing competition prizes as a possible bonus. Treat international writing contests as exercises in creating in response to diverse writing prompts and sending your work out into the world.

Writing contests are useful for developing your writing craft and giving yourself a deadline to finish something polished. Often, you receive valuable feedback from experienced judges. It’s best to see writing competition prizes as a possible bonus. Treat international writing contests as exercises in creating in response to diverse writing prompts and sending your work out into the world.

Here are 12 legitimate writing contests open to international submissions, their entry requirements, prizes and other information:

1. The Lorian Hemingway Short Story Competition

What: Lorian Hemingway, granddaughter of Ernest Hemingway, founded this international short story contest that’s been running over 30 years.

Contest prizes:

  1. First place: $1500 and publcation of the winning story in Cutthroat: A Journal of the Arts
  2. Second and third place: $500 each
  3. Promising entries are also awarded honorable mentions

Submission guidelines:

Submissions must not exceed 3500 words and must be original, unpublished fiction. There are no theme or genre restrictions. For 2018, submissions must be made by 1 May. You can read the full submission guidelines here.

Submission fee:

$15 per story, $20 late entry fee for any story submitted up to two weeks after the submission deadline.

Who judges this contest?

Hemingway herself and an additional panel comprised of writers and literary academics.

2. Writers and Artists’ Yearbook Short Story Competition

What: Writers and Artists’ annual short story competition is open to published and aspiring authors anywhere and entry is free.

Contest prizes:

  1. First place: A place in Arvon’s Clcokhouse writing retreats, as well as publication on Writers and Artists’ website.

Submission guidelines:

Your submission must be a story for adults up to 2000 words long. There is no theme or subject requirement. Send submissions as per the guidelines here by Tuesday 13th February 2018 for this year’s contest.

Submission fees:

Submission is free though W&A requires you to be registered on their website.

Who judges this contest?

In 2018, the judge for this contest is comissioning editor Alysoun Owen.

3. Colorado State University’s Nelligan Prize for Short Fiction

What: Colorado State University’s Center for Literary Publishing runs this annual contest (open to submissions from outside the US, too) in memory of an alumnus of the university, Liza Nelligan.

Contest prizes:

The winner of this contest receives:

  1. $2000
  2. Publication in the fall/winter issue of Colorado Review

Submission guidelines:

Stories shold be between 10 and 50 pages long (2500 – 12, 000 words). The submission deadline in 2018 is March 14. is There are no theme restrictions, and you may submit more than one story. Stories must be previously unpublished. Read the full guidelines here.

Submission fees:

$15 per story.

Who judges this contest?

The final judge for 2018’s contest is author and teaching academic Margot Livesey.

Entering writing contests - Donna Leon quote | Now Novel

4. The Australian Book Review’s Elizabeth Jolley Short Story Prize

What: An annual Australian contest open to authors writing in English anywhere in the world.

Contest prizes:

  1. First prize: (AU) $7000
  2. Second prize: $2000
  3. Third prize: $1000
  4. Three commended stories will share a remaining $2500

Submission guidelines:

Entries must be a single story between 2, 000 and 5, 000 words, in English. Entries close midnight 10 April 2018. You can read the full Terms and Conditions here.

Submission fees:

AU$25 for standard entry, AU$15 for annual subscribers to the ABR.

Who judges this contest?

Authors Patrick Allington, Michell Cahill and Beejay Silcox. Read their bios here.

[Before you submit work, polish it through constructive feedback and get help finishing your short story or novel.]

5. The EJ Brady Short Story Competition

What: An annual short story contest organized by the Mallacoota Arts Council in Australia. The contest is held in memory of Australian author, biographer, newspaper editor and journalist Edwin James Brady.

Contest prizes:

  1. The Gabo Prize (for a very short story not exceeding 700 words) is AU$500.
  2. The Betka Prize (for humorous stories not exceeding 1000 words) is AU$1000
  3. The Mallacoota Prize (for stories up to 2500 words long) is AU$2000 to first place and AU$300 to the runner-up.

Submission guidelines: 

For the 2018 contest, entries must be sent in by 28th February. You can enter online here. You can read the full guidelines for entry here.

Submission fees:

To enter the very short story contest (Gabo Prize), it costs AU$8, it’s AU$10 to enter the Betka Prize and AU$12 to enter the Mallacoota prize.

Who judges this contest?

The judging panel is made up of a panel of volunteer judges (you can read information about past judges as well as past examples of winning stories here).

6. Writer’s Digest’s Annual Writing Competition

What: An annual contest that has been running for over 80 years. WD accepts entries in several categories, including Inspirational (spiritual/religious), Memoirs/Personal essay, Genre short story (mystery, romance, etc.) and several others.

Contest prizes: 

Each of the contest’s 9 categories features the following prizes:

  1. Grand Prize: One winner will receive US$5000, an interview with Writer’s Digest, one-one-one help from a Writer’s Digest editor or agent and several other prizes.
  2. Category prizes: First place in each category receives US$1000 and a $100 off a purchase on Writer’s Digest’s store. Second through tenth place all receive cash prizes, with second through fifth also receiving vouchers for Writer’s Digest’s store.
  3. The Grand Prize piece and first place in each category are all published in WD’s annual Writing Competition Collection

You can read further details about additional prizes here.

Submission guidelines:

The deadline for submission for all categories in 2018 is May 4. Because there are different word count limits for different categories, it’s worth reading through the information particular to your category here.

Submission fees: 

May 4 is the early bird deadline and entry is $20 for poetry (and $15 for each additional poem submitted), and $30 for each story ($25 for each additional).

Between May 4 and June 1 costs a little more. The split is $25/$20 for first and additional poetry entries and $35/$30 for first and additional fiction entries.

Who judges this contest?

This information is not immediately clear on Writer’s Digest’s contest page.

7. The Crime Writers’ Association’s Margery Allingham Short Story Competition

What: The UK-based CWA runs an annual competition named after detective fiction author Margery Allingham.

Contest prizes:

  1. First prize: £500 and two passes to Crimefest 2019.
  2. Mentions on the CWA website for longlisted and shortlisted entrants.

Submission guidelines:

Entries in 2018 are due by midnight UK time, 28 February. Authors residing anywhere are eligible to enter, provided the story has not been published elsewhere. Entries may be up to 3,500 words long.

Submission fees:

£12, payable via PayPal.

Who judges this contest? 

This is not apparent on the CWA’s website, but you can find information about what judges are looking for here. The main requirement is that the story fits Allingham’s definition of a mystery:

‘The Mystery remains box-shaped, at once a prison and a refuge. Its four walls are, roughly, a Crime, a Mystery, an Enquiry and a Conclusion with an Element of Satisfaction in it.’

8. The Claremont Review Annual Writing & Art Contest

What: A Canadian contest specifically for young writers between 13 and 19 from anywhere in the world.

Contest prizes:

  1. First prize in fiction and poetry: CAD$750
  2. Second prize in fiction and poetry: CAD$500
  3. Third prize in fiction and poetry: CAD$250
  4. Publication of first, second, third and honorable mentions in the fall edition of The Claremont Review.

Submission guidelines:

Entries in 2018 are due by March 15. One piece may be submitted up to 2000 words. Flash fiction, short fiction and mixed-genre welcome. Read more here.

Submission fees:

CAD$25 (each entrant will receive a year’s subscription to TCR.

Who judges this contest? 

Author Jane Eaton Hamilton judges the fiction prize.

9. The David Nathan Meyerson Prize for Fiction

What: An annual contest in memory of the late therapist and writer David Meyerson. Open to any writer who has not published a book of fiction (either a novel or collection of stories).

Contest prizes: 

  1. Grand Prize: $1000 and publication in the Southwest Review.

Submission guidelines:

Any writer who has not published a book of fiction (a novel or short story collection) may enter. The deadline for submission is May 1 in 2018. Entrants are free to enter multiple times and each entry must not exceed 8,000 words. Read the guidelines here.

Submission fees:

A reader’s fee of US$25 per entry.

Who judges this contest?

Judging duties rotate year to year. In 2016, it was Megan Mayhew Bergman.

Kate Atkinson quote - writing contest opportunities | Now Novel

10. Glimmertrain Press’s Short Story Award for New Writers

What: A contest founded by short story journal Glimmer Train for emerging writers.

Contest prizes:

  1. First place: US$2500, publication in Glimmer Train Stories, and 10 copies.
  2. Second place: US$500, or, if chosen for publication, $700 and 10 copies.
  3. Third place: $300, or, if chosen for publication, $700 and 10 copies.

Submission guidelines:

The contest is open to any writer whose fiction has not appeared, nor is scheduled to appear, in any print publication with a circulation over 5000. (Entries must not have appeared in any print publication.) Any length up to 12,000 words is welcome. The first deadline for the contest is 28 February in 2018. The contest runs twice more during the year, with June 30 and October 31 deadlines. Read more here.

Submission fees:

An $18 reading fee.

Who judges this contest? 

Sisters Linda and Susan, the journal’s co-founders read every story submitted themselves.

11. The Roswell Award

What: A contest for emerging science fiction writers organized by the Light Bringer Project, a Pasadena, US-based arts education non-profit.

Contest prizes:

  1. First prize: US$500
  2. Second prize: US$250
  3. Third prize: US$100
  4. Four to six finalists’ work will be read on stage by celebrity guests at LitFest Pasadena.

Submission guidelines:

Stories must be 1,500 words or less and entrants must be 18 years of age or older. Stories must not have any previous publication and must be submitted by 29 January for the 2018 edition of the contest. Additional guidelines given: ‘Focus​ ​on​ ​telling​ ​an​ ​engaging​ ​story​ ​with​ ​strong​ ​characters,​ ​imagery,​ ​mood,​ ​tone,​ ​themes,​ ​etc.’ Read more here.

Submission fees: 

None. Submission is free for up to one submission per author.

Who judges this contest? 

This information is not provided on TRA’s website.

12. Arizona State University’s Everything Change Climate Fiction Contest

What: A climate change -themed contest welcoming ‘speculative fiction stories exploring climate change, narrating a world in flux.’

Contest prizes: 

  1. Grand Prize: US$1000
  2. Nine additional finalists will each receive US$50
  3. All 10 finalists will be published in a free to download and share online anthology.

Submission guidelines:

ASU specifies these guidelines. Your submission should:

  • Illustrate or explore the impact of climate change on humanity and/or the Earth, in the present or the near- or moderate-term future
  • Reflect current scientific knowledge about climate change, though you have full artistic freedom to exaggerate, embellish, and invent fictional conditions and situations
  • Illuminate and invite reflections on a climate-related challenge that individuals, communities, organizations, or societies face today, or might face in the near to moderate-term future.

Read the full guidelines here. Submission is open to all nationalities. The deadline for submission in 2018 is February 28.

Submission fees:

The writing contest is free to enter. You can submit an entry via the contest’s online submission portal.

Who judges this contest?

The American science fiction author Kim Stanley Robinson.

Need help improving your craft or getting your story off to a good start? Take a short course on Now Novel and get feedback from a writing coach.

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By Jordan

Jordan is a writer, editor, community manager and product developer. He received his BA Honours in English Literature and his undergraduate in English Literature and Music from the University of Cape Town.

15 replies on “12 international writing contests to enter this year”

You forgot one, or perhaps didn’t know about it. The L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Contest, which has no entry fees, and has four quarters in which to enter, every year. It’s also judged by winning writers in the profession. They accept science fiction and fantasy stories up to 17,000 words. It’s been running for many years. Please check it out, and maybe add it to a future list like this one. Other than that omission, I enjoyed this list, particularly some I’d never heard of that have no entry fees, and are in the genres I’m interested in. Thank you for putting together this list. It’s much appreciated.

Hi Amanda, thanks for the suggestion! I wasn’t sure whether to add the L. Ron Hubbard contest due to the Scientology link (and the controversy surrounding that), but we’ll definitely be expanding this list as we go to make it a more extensive reference source. It’s a pleasure and thanks for contributing your suggestion.

Here’s a competition to add to your list! We’re Regulus Press, located smack dab in the center of Seattle, and we’re running our first international short story competition this year. (Woo-hoo!)

The competition is for fiction. 3k words or fewer. US $1500 in prizes, plus publication in our forthcoming Literary Taxidermy anthology. Here’s a short blurb, to give you sense of the competition:

The LITERARY TAXIDERMY SHORT STORY COMPETITION is open to all. To enter, writers must provide an original story of up to 3000 words in any genre. The catch: We provide your opening and closing lines chosen from a classic work of literature. You provide the rest.

Three winning stories will be selected, for a total prize of US $1500. In addition, winners and runners-up will be published by Regulus Press in a forthcoming 2018 Anthology of Literary Taxidermy.

The judges of the 2018 contest include a variety of professional writers, poets, and playwrights, including Catherine Barnett (The Game of Boxes), Kelley Eskridge (Solitaire), Stephen Graham Jones (Mongrels), Holly Kowitt (The Principal’s Underwear Is Missing), Brian Parks (“Americana Absurdum”), Michael Pronko (The Last Train), Becky Selengut (Good Fish), and Nisi Shawl (Everfair).

Entries to the competition open on 5 March 2018 and close on 4 June 2018. Winners will be announced in September 2018. For full details visit the Literary Taxidermy Short Story Competition website:

Please check us out!

Greetings Now Novel! Here’s an international contest by Eyelands Magazine and Strange Days Publications you might like to feature in your list! Prizes include a week’s holiday in a beautiful beach-house on Crete, publication and more!

Welcome to Eyelands 8th International Short Story Contest! We’re looking
for short stories, of 2.500 words maximum in any genre on the theme of
“Luggage”. The competition has been running for 8 consecutive years with
increasing success. Every year, we are delighted to give the
opportunity to writers from all over the world to see their work
published in English and Greek and also to enjoy a week’s holiday in a
beautiful beach house on the island of Crete! The contest is run by
Eyelands online literary magazine and Strange Days Publications.

The contest runs from March 20th through June 20th, 2018
Theme of the contest: “Luggage”

First prize: A week’s holiday on the island of Crete (for 2)

First three winners’ stories published in two different anthologies
(Greek and English).

All the stories of the Shortlist will be published in a special English
edition, released through
& strangedays books. All shortlisted writers will also get a free
copy of the book, certification document and a book from Strange Days
Books. An interview with the first prize winner will also be featured in online literary magazine.

Judge: Maria Psoma-Petridou
Entry fee: 10 €
CONTACT EMAIL: [email protected]

Hello everyone, I am a South African unpublished writer, I want to share my manuscript with the wolrd. If interested please reply. Thank you

Here’s another one!

F(r)iction Literary Magazine is seeking previously unpublished flash fiction, short fiction, and poetry for our winter contests! The editorial staff enjoys writing that celebrates the weird, takes risks, and is driven by a strong, unique voice. Authors of selected work will receive a cash prize—$1000 for short fiction, $300 for flash fiction and poetry. All entries will be considered for publication in an upcoming issue of F(r)iction. The deadline to submit work is December 15, 2018.

Link to contest info:

I hope this is alright to mention another competition for 2020. My name is Peter Greene, I am the Director of the Adventure Writers Competition. We are a non-profit organization, and all entry fees ($35) and donations collected are used to promote the contest, the finalists and the winner.

The Adventure Writers Competition, sponsored by the Clive Cussler Family, the Clive Cussler Collector’s Society, Braveship Books, Venator Media Services and Sven Gillhoolie Publishing is an international competition now in our ninth year.

We have one category: Adventure. Any novels between 50,000 and 200,000 words that are in the realm of action/adventure/thriller/mystery – and chocked-full of adventure – are welcome. New and published books welcome! No time limit on when you completed your book, though you must have sold or given away less than 10,000 books of the title(s) you enter. We do not accept sci-fi, fantasy, horror or young children’s books. We are open for entries January 1 through April 30 of 2020. See our website for info on rules and entering.

Our finalist judge, Dirk Cussler, personally presents our awards at the ceremony. He says: “Get in on the action!”

2020 Prizes:

$1000 cash: winner (1)
$500 cash: runner’s up (2)
Finalists (3) are considered by Braveship Books for publishing/promotion.
Semi-finalists (10) receive a free editing sample of their entry from Venator Media Services.
Free book trailer to top three finalists by Sven Gillhoolie Publishing.
Interview of top three finalists (if attending the award ceremony) by Sven Gillhoolie Publishing.
Probably get to meet best selling authors Dirk Cussler, Jack Du Brul and Jeff Edwards at the Clive Cussler Collectors Society Convention during our AWC Award Ceremony!

Hi Jordan,

Thank you for the fantastic list! We wanted to let you know about one more contest open this year:

Tadpole Press 100 Word Writing Contest
Limit: 100 words per entry. Submit as many entries as you’d like.
Writers: All ages. All genders. All nationalities. All writers welcome.
Genre: Any genre.
Theme: Abundance.
Prizes: 1st place: $1,000.
2nd place: $450 writing coaching package.
3rd place: $250 developmental or diversity editing package.
Entry Fee: $10.
Deadline: November 30, 2021.
More Info:

It’s a great option for writers who have always wanted to write but never had the time. Hope it’s helpful for your readers!


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