For a change of pace from client work, why don’t you consider entering writing contests in 2021? It will give you a chance to flex your creative writing muscle in a way you don’t normally get to when you are doing work for other people.
Along with the chance to win some money, you get to have your work seen and evaluated by judges who often bring some impressive credentials to the table.
If you ever get the opportunity to see their scorecards or get some feedback, do take it. You may find something valuable in what they have to say about your writing.Enter these writing contests in 2021 to flex your writing muscles and make some earnings while you're at it. Click To Tweet
As always, when entering writing contests, follow the instructions precisely. If there is something that isn’t clear, reach out to the organizers by email before the submission deadline to make sure you are submitting your entry correctly. You don’t want to have your submission rejected because of one small detail.
Writing Contests 2021
Inkitt Novel Competition: Monthly
Inkitt’s Writing Contests regularly give authors the opportunity to share their books with readers around the world and showcase their talents.
Monthly cash prizes:
Each month one grand prize winner, and two runners up will be selected.
1st prize: $300 and an exclusive badge for your book cover
2nd prize: $100
3rd prize: $50
Your short story should have a maximum of 2,500 words. There is no minimum and the title is not included in the word count. Open to any writer.
Deadline: 13 January 2021 (12 noon, GMT)
Manuscripts will be accepted between October 1, 2020, and the postmark deadline of January 14, 2021. The winner will be announced by May 2021.
The winning book-length collection of poems will be published by the Center for Literary Publishing and distributed by the University Press of Colorado in the fall of 2019. The author receives a $2,000 honorarium.
There is a $28 online entry fee, which includes a one-year subscription to Colorado Review (the extra $3 goes to the good people at Submittable).
Poets with US addresses may opt for either a print or digital subscription. Poets living outside the US will receive digital subscriptions (as long as a valid e-mail address is provided). Please select the appropriate submission portal.
A contest for full-length poetry manuscripts.
Entry fee: $25 ($27 for online entry)
Deadline: January 31, 2021
The Danuta Gleed Literary Award was created as a celebration of the life of Danuta Gleed, a writer whose short fiction won several awards before her death in December 1996. Danuta Gleed’s first collection of short fiction, One of the Chosen, was posthumously published by BuschekBooks. The award is made possible through a generous donation from John Gleed, in memory of his late wife, and is administered by The Writers’ Union of Canada.
Each year, a $10,000 prize is awarded to a Canadian writer for the best first collection of published short fiction in the English language. Two finalists are also awarded $1,000 each.
The deadline for submissions is January 31, 2021.
1. The competition is open to anyone aged 16 and over.
2. Poems should be in English, unpublished, not accepted for publication, and must be your original work.
3. Poems may be on any subject and in any form or style. They must be typed and not longer than 40 lines.
4. Each poem must be typed on a separate sheet of A4 paper. All poems are judged anonymously and should not bear your name, nor any other form of identification. On a separate sheet of A4 paper you should give a: your name and address, b: a list of poems submitted, and c: where you heard about the competition.
The deadline for the 2019 competition is 31st January 2021.
First prize: £1,000
Second prize: £300
Third prize: £100
Plus 4 x £50
Biopage is hosting a writing contest to remind people the benefits of writing. Each story (or once chapter of your stories) is limited to 5,000 characters or roughly 1,000 words.
You can write about good life experience, or bad, embarrassing, frightening ones.
Entry fee: FREE
Prize: $500, six runners up $100 each
Deadline: January 31, 2021
Short story must be 5,500 words or less
Entry fee: $20 plus a digital copy of Ruminate magazine
Deadline: February 1, 2021 (plus 3-day grace period)
A 5-7-5 follows the structure of a Haiku but without any limitation to the topic. While a Senryu, is primarily concerned with human nature. A Haiku, primarily concerned with physical nature. A 5-7-5 poem is a free form with the only limitation being the syllable count.
Deadline: February 5, 2021 at 11:59pm EST
Is your shortest fiction soft and appealing with a hidden sting? Send us your short, sweet, and sassy fiction for a chance to win $300 and publication in Pulp Literature. Get an editorial critique for only $20 more.
Entry fee: $15
The award is open to all poets writing in English around the world. Simultaneous submissions accepted.
Entry Fee: $20
Award-winning literary travel magazine Nowhere is accepting submissions for the 2021 Emerging Travel Writers’ Prize. They are looking for never-been-published travel writers from anywhere in the world to send us stories—fiction, nonfiction, essay or poetry—that possess a powerful sense of place, people and time.
Prize: $500 with publication in Nowhere granted under First North American Serial Rights (FNASR). Up to ten finalists also will be published.
Deadline: 11:59 p.m. EST on February 28, 2021.
AWP’s Award Series is an annual competition for the publication of excellent new book-length works. The competition is open to all authors writing in English regardless of nationality or residence, and it is open to published and unpublished authors alike.
Entry fee: $30 for non-members and $20 for AWP members
• Donald Hall Prize for Poetry: $5,500 and publication by the University of Pittsburgh Press
• Grace Paley Prize for Short Fiction: $5,500 and publication by the University of Massachusetts Press
• AWP Prize for Creative Nonfiction: $2,500 and publication by the University of Georgia Press
• AWP Prize for the Novel: $2,500 and publication by New Issues Press
Deadline: February 28, 2021
The Ginosko Flash Fiction Award is for an unpublished work of flash fiction. Awarded piece is selected through a submission process open to all writers with the following exception:
Relatives or individuals having a personal or professional relationship with any of the final judges where they have taken any part whatsoever in shaping the submitted manuscript.
Author’s name not to be on or in submission.
$500 Award, $5 entry fee, deadline March 1st, 2021. Awarded work posted on website and published in forthcoming issue.
Submit up to 2 pieces, 800 words maximum each piece.
-Romance Novel Contest with Cash Prize and Publishing Contract! (March 1, 2021)
-Suspense/Thriller Novel Contest with Cash Prize and Publishing Contract! (March 2021)
-From Australian wildfires to COVID, murder hornets to zombie minx, 2020 has been a crazy year. We want to hear how you survived! Write a short story, write an essay, or a poem. This is your story of how you survived 2020. Whatever helped you get through this crazy, crazy year!
1st Place – $250 Cash Prize
2nd Place – $150 Cash Prize
3rd Place – $100 Cash Prize
Plus, $200 prizes for Best Poem, Best Short Story, Best Haiku, Best Photography
$2,000 will be awarded for the best short story, which will be published in the fall/winter 2021 issue of Colorado Review.
Entry fee to submit online is $17 per story; there is no limit on the number of entries you may submit, though each story must be a separate entry.
Stories must be previously unpublished.
There are no theme restrictions, but stories should be at least 10 pages and under 50 pages.
All manuscripts must be double-spaced.
The story title and your name, address, phone number, and e-mail address should be entered in the cover letter field, separate from your story. Be sure your name is NOT anywhere in the story itself.
Deadline is March 14, 2021. There is a grace period of five days for both postal and online submissions.
The award is intended to honor the spirit of unblinking honesty, determination, and insight into cultural and social issues exemplified by the late James Jones, author of From Here to Eternity and other prose narratives of distinction. Jones himself was the recipient of aid from many supporters as a young writer and his family, friends, and admirers have established this award of $10,000 to continue the tradition in his name. Two runners-up awards of $1000 each may be given by the Jones Literary Society.
- Have never published a novel
- Are U.S. citizens
- May have published any other type of work including non-fiction articles and short stories
- Unpublished novels
- Novels in which one or more chapters have been published
Entry fee: $30
Deadline: March 15, 2021, Eastern Standard time.
The Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense is named for Daphne du Maurier, the author of Rebecca, a suspense novel with romantic and gothic overtones and a precursor to today’s romantic suspense. The writing contest is for published and unpublished authors of mystery, suspense, and thrillers with or without romantic subplots.
The contest provides helpful feedback by trained judges. Winning or placing in the competition adds a boost to the entrant’s writing career. There are two divisions within the contest: Published and Unpublished.
Entry Fee: $15USD/members $30USD/non-members
First Prize: engraved bookmarks and multiple forms of recognition
Eligibility: international; unpublished manuscripts and books published in 2019 or 2020
Genres: 5 romantic suspense categories and 1 non-romantic mystery/thriller/suspense category
Entries are received January 15, 2021 – March 15, 2021.
The Word Works awards a living American or Canadian poet $1,500, a generous supply of author copies, and book publication for a volume of original poetry in English. To enter, submit a manuscript of 48 to 80 pages between January 15 and March 15, and pay the $25 entry fee.
The winner is selected by August each year. Book publication is planned for January of the following year.
- For an outstanding debut literary work by a first-generation immigrant
- Winner receives $10,000 and publication by Restless Books
- To be awarded for fiction and nonfiction in alternating years
- Submissions for the 2020 Prize in Fiction are open from October 1, 2020 to March 31, 2021
Fiction submissions can take the form of a novel or a book-length collection of short stories. Nonfiction submissions can take the form of a memoir, a collection of essays, or a book-length work of narrative nonfiction.
Fiction manuscripts must be complete. Nonfiction submissions must consist of either a complete manuscript or a sample of at least 25,000 words and a detailed proposal that includes a synopsis and an annotated table of contents. All submissions must be in English (translations welcome).
Candidates must be first-generation residents of their country. “First-generation” can refer either to people born in another country who relocated or to residents of a country whose parents were born elsewhere.
OPEN for self-published and independently published books
Book of the Year £1500 (approx 2000 US$; 1800€ )
Plus a minimum of the 3 category winners each winning £150 (approx 200$, 180€)
Closing date 31st March 2021
Poems may be previously published or unpublished, and simultaneous submissions are accepted. Winner receives $1,000, a bronze medallion, and publication online in The Lascaux Review. The winner and all finalists will be published in the annual print journal Lascaux 8.
Deadline: April 1, 2021
Sana Writing contest: call for interactive romance!
Scope: write an interactive romance story on the theme “Slow burn”.
Entry fee: none
Prizes: 500, 200 and 100 € for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place.
Deadline: 11th April
The prize is $1,000 and publication in The Tusculum Review.
The entry fee is $15 per manuscript. Entry fees include a one-year subscription to The Tusculum Review (an annual publication) and consideration for publication.
Each manuscript should consist of a single essay between 2000 and 6500 words in a standard 12-point font. Co-authored essays are permitted. Essays may not have been previously published nor be forthcoming.
Deadline: April 1, 2021
Submit a short story up to 2000 words. Open theme.
$7500 in prizes
Deadline: April 14, 2021
Entry fee: $25 1st poem, $10 each subsequent poem
Earlybird fee (before 15 Mar): $20 1st poem, $10 each subsequent poem
Entry fees include a 1-year digital subscription to Pulp Literature.
This contest is for previously unpublished poems of up to 100 lines in length. Poetry that relies heavily on visual structure is eligible for prize money, but may be excluded from publication if the formatting is difficult to reproduce in print or eBook.
Total entries limited to 500.
First Prize: $500
Runners up (2): $50 each
All entrants receive a 1 year digital subscription to Pulp Literature.
Deadline: April 15, 2021
The Peseroff Prize honors Joyce Peseroff’s work as a poet, teacher, editor, innovator, and mentor. She helped found the MFA Program in Creative Writing at the University of Massachusetts Boston, served as its first director, and retired from teaching in 2014.
Submit up to three poems and a $10 entry fee. There are no restrictions on content or form: “it’s all poetry.” Poems should be previously unpublished. They accept simultaneous submissions, but please notify Breakwater if submission is accepted elsewhere.
Submit from February 1 to April 15, 2021
The second Micro Fiction prompt is “Doors”. The picture they’ve chosen to represent this prompt is most intriguing, with its dramatic colors and implied mystery. Your story does not have to be about this particular door, but can be about any door, or even just the concept of door!
When you consider your own imagined door, you might ask questions: What stories lie behind my door? Where did it come from? Where does it lead? Is it a way out, or a way in? To the fertile writer’s mind, there are infinite possibilities on the other side of every door.
Enter a story with 100 words or less inspired by our “Doors” prompt.
Grand Prize (Staff Pick)
$25 Amazon Gift Card
First prize (Public Voting)
$10 Amazon Gift Card
Deadline: April 24, 2021
Submissions from emerging as well as established poets are welcomed.
The winner of the Marsh Hawk Press Poetry Prize receives $1,000.00, book publication and promotion. Winners of the Robert Creeley and Rochelle Ratner prizes, selected from finalists, receive $250.00 each.
Deadline: April 30, 2021
Trio House Press gives two awards annually: the Trio Award for First or Second Book for emerging poets, and the Louise Bogan Award for Artistic Merit and Excellence for a book of poems contributing in an innovative and distinct way to American poetry.
The Trio Award for First or Second Book includes $1,000, publication, and twenty books. The Trio Award for First or Second Book is only open to poets with less than two books published.
The Louise Bogan Award for Artistic Merit and Excellence includes $1,000, publication, and twenty books. The Louise Bogan Award for Artistic Merit and Excellence is open to ALL poets, regardless of publication history.
Reading period for both awards is November 1 through April 30. Manuscripts received outside of this reading period will not be considered. Submissions fee is $25 per manuscript for all award reading periods.
The award is open to any poet writing in English who has not had a full-length book of poetry published previously. The definition of “full-length book” is a volume of 48 or more pages published in an edition of 500 or more copies. Books whose publication costs have been borne by their authors are excluded from this definition.
Submit your Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize manuscript online! During the submission period (March 1 – April 30) simply go to their Submittable page.
For this contest, a story is any short work of fiction, and an essay is any short work of nonfiction. Judge: Dennis Norris II, assisted by Lauren Singer Ledoux. Please submit as many entries as you like. All themes accepted. Entries may be published or unpublished. Length limit: 6,000 words maximum. No restriction on age of author. All countries eligible except Syria, Iran, North Korea, and Crimea (due to US government restrictions).
- STORY: First Prize, $3,000
- ESSAY: First Prize, $3,000
- The top two winners will also receive two-year gift certificates from Duotrope (a $100 value)
- 10 Honorable Mentions will receive $200 each (any category)
- Top 12 entries published online
Deadline: April 30, 2021
- Publication history. Only first or second full-length books of poetry may be submitted. Chapbooks are not considered as a previous publication in this regard.
- Length. Manuscripts must be between forty-eight and ninety pages.
- Previous publication. Individual poems may have been published in chapbooks, journals, and anthologies.
- Translations. Work in translation is not accepted.
- Multiple submissions. No more than one manuscript per author.
- Authorship. No more than one author per manuscript.
- Simultaneous submissions. Manuscripts under publication consideration or prize competition elsewhere are allowed provided we are notified immediately of their acceptance.
Chi Media Company and its sister company The Milpitas Beat have teamed up to hold the first annual 21st Century American Writing Contest. Our aim is to highlight the powerful voices of American writers and provide a platform for their views, insights, and talents.
WHO CAN ENTER: Anyone in the U.S. above age 18 who has written a novel, nonfiction book, or short story, except for residents of these states: Colorado, Maryland, Nebraska, North Dakota, and Vermont.
WHAT THEY’RE LOOKING FOR: culturally relevant, emotionally potent, strikingly original, tangibly heartfelt, and resonantly artistic works of prose. Novels, short or long, from 25,000 to 100,000 words long. Nonfiction books from 25,000 to 100,000 words long. Short stories up to 7,000 words long.
ENTRY FEE: $40 for Novels and Nonfiction books. $20 for Short Stories.
PRIZES: 1st Place Winners in the Novel and Nonfiction Book categories (which are 2 distinct categories) will each win $300, a certificate, a Book Publishing contract with Chi Media Company (which publishes The Milpitas Beat, along with a library of book titles), a sterling write-up on The Milpitas Beat’s site, an author interview on The Milpitas Beat’s site, and a year-long advertisement of the published book on The Milpitas Beat’s site, which is read by 40,000 to 60,000 readers monthly.
DEADLINE: April 20, 2021
Look at our list of 100 websites that pay writers in 2021
Flash Fiction Award
This category is open to all genres – sci-fi, crime, romance, horror, humor, thriller, fantasy, mystery, whatever tickles you and your Muse’s fancy – but on one single theme: Love.
Creative Nonfiction Award
As for our creative nonfiction competition, we offer you a similar challenge. To write a story of not more than 500 words (not including the title) inspired by the same subject: Love.
Prizes: 500 euros
Deadline for submissions: Sunday, May 2, 2021
The Book Pipeline: Adaptation competition seeks published books, graphic novels, short stories, and plays for film and television adaptation. There are no genre restrictions, and judging criteria is weighed evenly between concept originality, marketability in the current landscape, and overall writing talent.
Since 2014, Book Pipeline has reviewed new properties to connect with producers for development at all levels–from big-budget studio films and series, to smaller indies.
Every entrant receives general feedback on their submission, specifically on its adaptation potential. Comments are emailed after final judging is completed.
Submitted books, graphic novels, and short stories must already be published in some form (traditional publishing or self-publishing). Stage plays must have been published and/or produced.
Entries are judged on the basis of concept originality, writing ability, and the property’s viability as a scripted film or television series. Judging is done internally by Pipeline Development Executives.
Winner and finalists receive one-on-one assistance from Book Pipeline execs prior to industry exposure, in addition to the following:
$10,000 to winner, $2,000 to 2 runners-up ($1,000 each)
Long-term circulation and promotion to producers and other execs
Project development with Book Pipeline to prepare a film or TV series pitch
Consideration of other material and circulation of other stories to industry
Invitations to annual writer and industry events hosted by Pipeline Media Group
One (1) grand prize winner and two (2) runners-up are selected.
Deadline Dates/Entry Fees: May 20th, 2021 – $55
Word Count: 400 words or fewer for each micro (this does not include the title). Put all micros in the same document.
Languages: English or any other language accompanied by an English translation. The story will be judged on the English text. Both the English and the original story must be previously unpublished. Translator and author will split the prize money equally.
Only previously unpublished work will be considered.
Entrants must be 18 or older.
Fiction, non-fiction, and hybrid narratives are considered.
The line between prose and poetry is often a blurry one, but please take into consideration that SmokeLong does not consider poetry.
Please use a legible, dark font. Single-spacing is fine.
Simultaneous submissions are considered, but we ask that you withdraw an entry immediately if it has been accepted elsewhere. You can do this by sending a message to us, which will be seen at the end of the judging process.
Grand Prize: $1500
Second Place: $500
Third Place: $300
Deadline: May 17, 2021
This is an open writing competition that is dedicated to finding and encouraging the most promising new writers from across the world. Each year the judges award over £18,000 in prize money for your best submissions in poetry, short stories, flash fiction and first novels. Details for entry and requirements can be found under each category on the website.
Deadline: May 31, 2021
You can submit an original, unpublished poem or collection of poems, up to 600 words in length. There is no minimum word requirement.
WHEN: The competition is open for submissions from April 1 to May 31, 2021.
WHO: All Canadian citizens and permanent residents of Canada.
A fee of $25.00 (taxes included) for administration purposes is required for each entry.
The winner will receive $6,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts and will have the opportunity to attend a two-week writing residency at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity. Their winning submission will be published on CBC Books. Four finalists will each receive $1,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts and have their poetry published on CBC Books.
Welcome to the 2020 Shooter Short Story Competition, the fifth year of their contest that spotlights notable new literary talent, with cash prizes and highlighted publication both in the pages of Shooter and online. There’s a prize pot of £500 and discounted entry for multiple stories – so get submitting!
Regular submissions to the magazine are usually confined to a particular theme, but the competition offers a chance to write about whatever compels you, in any style, to a maximum of 5,000 words.
Entry fee of £7 (or £10 for two stories)
Deadline: May 31, 2021
Each entry must be original work and previously unpublished. Simultaneous submissions will be accepted, but authors must notify Flying South immediately and withdraw from the contest if their work is accepted elsewhere. Submissions may not be withdrawn once contest winners are announced. Prizes include publication in Flying South 2021, Best in Category, and President’s Favorite. All works will be read blind.
Categories: Poetry, Fiction, Non-Fiction
Entry fee: $25 ($15 for members)
Deadline: May 31, 2021
WOW! hosts a (quarterly) writing contest every three months, and has done so since 2006. The mission of this contest is to inspire creativity, great writing, and provide well-rewarded recognition to contestants. The WOW Flash Fiction Contest has awarded over $90,000 in cash to writers since its inception. The contest is open globally; age is of no matter; and entries must be in English. They are open to all styles and genres of flash fiction.
Word count: 250-750
Entry fee: $10
Deadline: May 31, 2021
The 2020 Book Pipeline: Unpublished competition is exclusively for unpublished manuscripts across 6 categories of fiction and nonfiction:
—Sci-Fi / Fantasy
—Mystery / Thriller
—Outsider / Experimental
Select publishers and agents get first look at the top selections for each category, including LGR Literary Agency, Katherine Tegen Books, and Verve Publishing.
Winners and finalists receive:
$15,000 to winners ($2,500 for each category winner)
Immediate circulation to publishers, agents, editors, and other execs
Consideration from producers seeking projects for film and TV adaptation
Additional long-term reviews of other books for potential circulation
Invitations to annual writer and industry events hosted by Pipeline Media Group
One (1) grand prize winner and two (2) runners-up are selected for each category.
Deadline Dates/Entry Fees: Early: June 1st, 2020 – $45
Contest opens May 1, 2021
The winner of this contest will receive a cash award of $1,500.00 plus have their poetry published. Manuscripts must be 48-80 pages in length. Submit your work electronically or by regular mail. Instructions are available on the website.
Deadline: June 15, 2021
The Akron Series in Poetry was founded to bring to the public writers who speak in original and compelling voices. Each year, The University of Akron Press offers the Akron Poetry Prize, a competition open to all poets writing in English. The winning poet receives $1,500 and publication of his, her, or their book. The final selection will be made by a nationally prominent poet. The final judge for 2021 is Erika Meitner. Other manuscripts may also be considered for publication in the series.
Deadline: June 15, 2021
THE $4,000 NARRATIVE PRIZE is awarded annually for the best short story, novel excerpt, poem, one-act play, graphic story, or work of literary nonfiction published by a new or emerging writer in Narrative.
Different professions have different charms, so what romantic stories might unfold when characters from different professions meet? Use your imagination to create a unique romantic backstory for the billionaire.
The top10 winners will receive prizes: 1st $1500, 2nd $800, 3rd $500, 4th-10th $300, plus big name’s review, exclusive interview and more media exposure.
Deadline: June 30th, 2020
Stories may be previously published or unpublished, and simultaneous submissions are accepted. True stories and prose poetry are welcome as long as they’re written in a narrative style. Winner receives $1,000 and a bronze medallion. Finalists receive $100. Winner and finalists are published in both the online and annual print editions of The Lascaux Review.
Entry fee: $15
Deadline: June 30, 2021
Award-winning literary travel magazine Nowhere is accepting submissions for our annual Spring Travel Writing Prize.
Entries may be fiction, nonfiction, poetry or essay, but please indicate which genre at the top of your manuscript.
+ Stories should run between eight hundred and five thousand words. Poetry may be any length, and several poems, themed together, may be submitted as one entry.
+ Entries must be submitted in English, though authors may be located anywhere in the universe.
+ Previously published work is eligible. Please indicate this, with proper attribution details, in your cover letter.
+ Entries must not previously have been chosen the winner of any contest.
The winner will receive US$1,000, with publication in Nowhere granted under First North American Serial Rights (FNASR). Up to ten finalists also will be published.
Deadline: June 30, 2021
Prize: $1000 and publication in our next forthcoming issue
Seeking submissions for pieces that breathe freshness to the form. They are interested in previously unpublished prose ranging from 1,000 – 4,000 words, each with a $10 entry fee. All entries will be considered for publication. They accept simultaneous submissions, but please notify Breakwater if submission is accepted elsewhere.
Open OCTOBER 1 – DECEMBER 1