Sometimes it’s not enough that you’ve sold a few books or that your family and friends love your work, you just need to know if you can compete with other writers. Writing competitions are more commonplace than ever before. The awards range from cash prizes to scholarships to writing colonies to publishing. Here are a few tips before you submit your work.
- Read the submission guidelines thoroughly. Follow directions.
- Make sure the work you’re submitting is as flawless as possible. Check grammar and punctuation.
- See if you can find winning submissions online to read. Don’t compare your work. Read to see what the judges like.
- Do a Google search to see if your competition is a scam.
You can win $15,000 and publication by the University of Pittsburgh Press with this prize, awarded for a collection of short fiction.
You may submit an unpublished manuscript of short stories, two or more novellas or a combination of novellas and short stories. Your total word count should be between 150 and 300 typed pages.
Deadline: Annual submission window is May 1 through June 30.
Presented by St. Martin’s Press and WORDHARVEST, this prize awards the best first mystery novel set in the Southwest with $10,000 and publication by St. Martin’s Press.
It’s open to professional or non-professional writers who have not yet had a mystery published, and there are specific guidelines for the structure of your story: “Murder or another serious crime or crimes must be at the heart of the story, with emphasis on the solution rather than the details of the crime.”
Deadline: Annually on June 1.
This contest aims to provide visibility for emerging African American fiction writers and to enable them to focus on their writing by awarding a $10,000 cash prize. Eligible authors should submit a work of fiction, such as a novel or short story collection, published in the calendar year.
Deadline: August 15, 2016.
Honoring the best work of fiction published by an American author in a single calendar year, this award has been given to the likes of John Updike, Philip Roth and Ann Patchett.
The winner receives $15,000 and an invitation to read at the award ceremony in Washington, DC. Four finalists also each receive a $5,000 award.
Deadline: Annually on October 31 for books published that calendar year.
Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction
is for unpublished manuscripts between 40,000 and 75,000 words and may include long stories or novellas. The authors of the two winning manuscripts will receive US$1000 and publication by the University of Georgia Press under a standard book contract. Writers must be residents of North America.
Deadline: Entries close on 31 May.
awards a US$4000 new and emerging writers’ prize for the best short story, novel excerpt, poem, one-act play, graphic story, or work of literary nonfiction published in the magazine.
Deadline: The deadline for the 2016 award is 15 June.