If you are a bookworm like me, you must love to browse and hunt for new titles. It can be in small, overcrowded bookstores, where you scoop treasures from hidden bookshelves, or it can be online, scrolling through titles, moving your mouse cursor across covers or screens to find that one book that will speak to your heart or mind.
We all have personal strategies for finding the next great book. For me, the illustration on the book cover speaks volumes; fonts and typefaces sometimes make me stop to admire the designer’s work.
But other times, it's just a tiny patch on the cover telling me that this book has been awarded a particular prize or shortlisted for something.
If it is the right blend of plot, looks, and lines, such awarded discoveries make me want to buy them. If you are like me but also an author, here are some things you should know about entering writing contests in 2024 and beyond.
What Is a Writing Contest?
A writing contest is a literary event where writers that fit the announced criteria subject their work to be reviewed, hoping to win a prize and the prestige that comes with it.
There are numerous contests out there. First, let’s go through why they might be a good idea for authors.
I will start with the cherry on the cake: getting your work published.
Winning the competition is going to get your writing published. That is to say, it grants you a meeting with prospective readers, supports you in gathering momentum, and it is up to you how that opportunity is magnified.
If you are a novelist, you might feel that there are fewer opportunities for you, but think about turning part of the plot into a short story and testing your vision with the readers. Their view might spark unexpected shards of inspiration.
There’s no reason to beat around the bush. Literary prize money is a good addition. The sum may vary but think from a thousand dollars upward. It can be that seed funding for a new project or a good incentive to start self-publishing.
This one’s the best gain when browning contests to enter. Writing mindful of the criteria and submitting on time is great to put you to work consistently. This is a trait to value when you know how difficult it is to pick a routine and stick to it. Think writing a novel, for instance.
There are also other things to consider when embarking on such an experience. It is not simply the writing itself but the skills you get to exercise while submitting. You may benefit from the practice of writing an author bio, but it’s also helpful for you to see how to write an application letter and how to see a conversation through to publishing. You can also order essays for reference.
The biggest gain is, however, getting through the emotions of having your writing reviewed. Purposely going through the process of waiting weeks on end and taking in what the reviewers consider could be improved or dealing with rejection are crucial elements in your writer's journey.
What to Look for in Contest Writing?
Each writing competition you wish to join has a few requirements. To ensure you enter these writing contests, pay attention to:
Reading fees may help magazines stay on the market. Usually, they’re not a burden to writers. They are typical to a certain extent but don't hurry to break the bank over them.
When it comes to a writers' contest, such fees are directed towards a jury and the literary prize itself. But if you are still deciding whether to enter a competition requiring a fee, see below those free to join.
Take the time to be thorough and read the rules several times.
Are you concerned about the First Publishing Rights? Some authors would like to ensure they still own the rights for publication. Check the rules, and make sure that these are something you can agree with.
In some writing competitions, you are required to submit unpublished material. It is also customary to deliver a certain word count. You can be eliminated from the writing competition for not paying attention to these requirements.
Pay attention to the genre of the writing contest as well. You can certainly not join short stories contests or essay contests if you are a poet.
Formatting, genre, and word count - keep these in mind. And now that all such technicalities are clarified let us get down to your writing competitions in 2024 and beyond.
Free Writing Contests 2024
If writing competitions are for you, test your skills in a free admittance competition.
1. 2024 Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest
This one is for the playful poets out there. Submit one humor poem in English, no longer than 250 lines, until April 1, 2024.
- 1st place $2000
- 2nd place $500
- 3rd place $250
- and ten honorable mentions of $100 each
2. 2024 Minotaur Books/Mystery Writers of America First Crime Novel Competition
This is another free contest to enter. It’s for unpublished authors, 18 years upward, putting murder and mystery at the center of their hearts. This is a unique chance to submit an English-language novel.
Awardees get the book published with Minotaur Books and a $10.000 advance against future royalties.
3. 53 Word Story Contest
It is a free monthly contest where everyone is invited to enter. The deadline is the 15th day of the month.
The winners will be featured in Prime Numbers Magazine and receive a complimentary book from Press 53.
4. W.Y. Boyd Literary Award for Excellence in Military Fiction
This award honors the best literature set in a time when the US was at war. As target groups, young adult or adult fiction are preferred.
A prize of $5,000 and a 24k gold-framed citation of achievement is given annually for a novel published in the previous year.
Translators, rejoice! These two are for you:
5. Pen/Heim Translation Fund Grants
Previous awardees managed translations from Farsi, Finland-Swedish, Lithuanian, Armenian, Basque, Estonian, Mongolian, French, Spanish, German, Russian, Chinese, Japanese, and Arabic.
Pen/Heim Translations Fund given grants of $2,000–$4,000 for each translation. The Fund has given grants to nearly 200 translations from over 35 languages.
6. The Gabo Prize for Literature in Translation & Multilingual Texts
Hosted by Lunch Ticket, this prize is funded by Antioch University Los Angeles MFA Alumni Allie Marini and Jennifer McCharen, together with writers and translators.
Writing Competitions with Entrance Fee
Get ready to roll your sleeves as you get many options to put you to good practice. Here are a few paid contests to enter.
7. Bath Flash Fiction Award 2024
A writing competition for entrants 16 years of age and over, writing on any subjects or themes, willing to submit a 300-word piece.
The entrance fee is 9 GBP per entrance, but the price can be reduced for multiple submissions.
1st place - £1000
2nd place - £300
3rd place - £100
Two commendations of £30 each
8. The Caterpillar Poetry Prize 2024
This is for you if you are an adult writing poems for children aged 7 to 11. And if such poems are unpublished. Note that this edition’s closing date is March 31, 2024
The entrance fee is €15 / poem.
▶️ 1st - €1000 + a week at Circle of Misse
▶️ 2nd - €500
▶️ 3rd - €250
9. The Bridport Prize 2024
This is for you if you look into the possibility of submitting under more categories than one - novel | flash fiction | poetry | short stories.
Entrance fee ranges between £11 - £24.
Each category has its own prizes. They vary from £250 to £5,000 + Highly Commended 10 x £100.
10. 2024 Bristol Short Story Prize
This is a short story contest for published and unpublished writers who are 16 or older. Submit stories regardless of theme or subject as long as they are no more than 4000 words long.
There are 250 free online entries. After that, the entrance fee is £9.
▶️ 1st place - £1000
▶️ 2nd place - £500
▶️ 3rd place - £250
Each of the 17 remaining shortlisted writers will receive £100.
11. The 2024 Colorado Prize for Poetry
This is an international poetry manuscript writing competition, between 48 and 100 pages, without a limit on the number of poems included.
The entrance fee is $28 which includes a yearly subscription to Colorado Review.
A $2500 honorarium and publication by the Center for Literary Publishing.
12. 2024 Rattle Chapbook Prize
This is a writing contest organized by Rattle Poetry magazine. Each entry must be between 15 - 30 pages in length.
The entrance fee is $28 which includes a yearly subscription to Rattle Poetry magazine.
The three winners will receive $5,000 and 500 author copies which will also be distributed to all of Rattle's 7,000+ subscribers.
13. The Masters Review Chapbook Open
This writing competition is for you if you are an emerging writer with a soft spot for short stories, essays, mini novellas, and flash fiction.
The entrance fee is $25.
Awardee receives a $3000 honorarium, publication, and 100 contributor copies.
Writing Contests for Teens
There are numerous writing contests for teen writers out there; let me just list some.
14. Princeton University 10-Minute Play Contest
▶️ 1st place - $500
▶️ 2nd place - $250
▶️ 3rd place - $100
15. Nancy Thorp Poetry Contest
In its 60th year, the writing contest awards the best poems submitted by young women - sophomores or juniors in high schools or preparatory schools. Winners are selected by faculty and student members of Hollins' creative writing program.
▶️ 1st place - $350
Publication in Cargoes, Hollins’ award-winning student literary magazine
Ten copies of Cargoes
Renewable scholarship up to $5,000
▶️ 2nd place - Publication in Cargoes
Two copies of Cargoes
Renewable scholarship up to $1,000
16. Young Arts
National YoungArts Foundation aims to identify, nurture, and support accomplished young artists in the fields of visual, literary, design, and performing arts.
There are three categories: Finalist, Honorable Mention and Merit. YoungArts award winners at all levels receive cash prizes between $100 and $10,000.
17. Writopia Lab Worldwide Plays Festival
A festival where plays written and awarded in Writopia's labs are professionally produced in New York City. The playwright competition is open to worldwide writers aged 6 to 18.
There isn't a cash prize, but the play that gets selected will be put on stage.
18. Chapman Art and Writing Holocaust Contest
A writing contest that is focused on the Holocaust. Participating schools may submit three entries delivered by three individual students in categories such as prose, poetry, art, and film.
Students can win a first prize award of $400 in each category.
19. Bennington College Young Writers Awards
Bennington College has successfully produced 12 Pulizer awardees, three US poet laureates, and countless New York Times bestsellers. The contest is divided into three categories: poetry, fiction, and nonfiction.
▶️ 1st place - $1000
▶️ 2nd place - $500
▶️ 3rd place - $250
Finalists and winners are eligible for undergraduate scholarships.
Suppose you are like me and sometimes find it challenging to wait for writing competition results or still feel unprepared to deal with annual competitions. If that’s the case, hit the Reedsy writing contest, which proposes a new weekly topic. See which of these propositions is more suitable for you or even which agrees with your writing routines.
And speaking of writing routines, a writing competition trains you to finish a book within the expected timeframe. Most importantly, it will keep you engaged and away from writer's block.
A writing contest helps you get into a writing routine, boosting your desire to keep going to see the final result.
Moreover, it can get you published, which is what you ultimately want to achieve.
If the writing competition doesn't offer this possibility, you can always turn to self-publishing and get your manuscript out there.