Finding the right writing contest for you can be a difficult and time consuming process. I googled the term “writing contests” and got 126,000,000 results. For that reason, we compiled a comprehensive and up-to-date list of the best writing contests in 2018.
You’re here because you’re looking for credible writing contests that offer cash prizes and/or the ability to get your work in front of more people. Discover the best essay, poetry, novel, and short story writing competitions for fiction and non-fiction writers.
Disclaimer: The majority of the descriptions of each contest we’re taken directly from the most relevant contest website.
We did the leg work and we’ll continue to curate and update this list throughout the year. If you want to receive updates when we update this list, sign up for updates!
Submit your work to these competitions for a chance to win notoriety, rewards and of course, cash prizes.
Related: Struggling to get your piece finished before the competition deadline? Use Sprinter, our online, distraction-free writing tool. Produce your best work by staying productive and creative.
Did we miss a writing competition? Let us know in the comments or by tweeting at us, @astrohaus.
18 Writing Contests in 2018
The Marfield Prize, also known as the National Award for Arts Writing, recognizes the author of an outstanding nonfiction book about the visual, literary, media, or performing arts. This $10,000 prize is designed to recognize excellence in arts writing for a broad audience.
Books must be nonfiction titles written in English for a general audience by a single, living author and originally published in the United States during the current calendar year. Books may be about any artistic discipline (visual, literary, performing, or media arts, as well as cross-disciplinary works).
Deadline: October 15, 2018 Fee: None Prize: $10,000 View Contest
The Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence honors Louisiana’s revered storyteller, Ernest J. Gaines, and serves to inspire and recognize rising African-American fiction writers of excellence at a national level. The book award, initiated by donors of the Baton Rouge Area Foundation, is now in its 12th year and has become nationally recognized in its role of enhancing visibility of emerging African-American fiction writers while also expanding the audience for this literature.
To be eligible to submit work for this competition, the writer must meet a few qualifications.
- A work of fiction (novel or collection of short stories) that will be published in 2018. Galleys for a 2018 publication are also accepted.
- The nominee must be a rising author, not yet widely recognized for their work.
- Author must be an African-American U.S. citizen.
- The winning author must be willing to attend the award ceremony on January 24, 2019, and participate in educational outreach activities during that week.
Deadline: August 15, 2018 Fee: None Prize: $10,000 View Contest
In its 18th year, the Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest seeks today’s best humor poets. All submissions must be less than 250 words. A cash prize of $1,000 and publication on the winning writers website is given annually to the poet with the most humorous poem.
Deadline: August 15, 2018 -April 1, 2019 Fee: None Prize: Up to $1,000 View Contest
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.
Winners and finalists of this prestigious award have gone on to win the Pushcart Prize, the Whiting Award, and the Atlantic Prize, and have appeared in the Best American Short Stories, the Best American Non-required Reading, and others.
Deadline: June 15, 2018 Fee: None Prize: $4,000 View Contest
Inkitt is “the world’s first reader-powered book publisher.” Launched in mid-2016, Inkitt’s boutique publishing house has helped authors publish over 30 Amazon best sellers. Go check out their site to vote for others work or submit your own. Included in the publishing deal, the winner will get a dedicated marketing team, professional editing, cover art, and royalties.
Deadline: May 31, 2018 Fee: None Prize: Publishing Deal View Contest
The University of Pittsburgh announced the 2019 Drue Heinz Literature Prize for a collection of short fiction. The prize carries a cash award of $15,000 and publication by the University of Pittsburgh Press under its standard contract. The winner will be announced in December or January. The literary contest was established in 1981.
Deadline: June 30, 2018 Fee: None Prize: $15,000 View Contest
The Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award – based at Claremont Graduate University, is a contest for mid-career poets who already have an established body of work. This award is one of the most prestigious prizes a contemporary poet can receive, this contest comes with a hefty purses of $100,000. This makes the Kingsley Tufts award the world’s largest monetary prize for a single collection of poetry.
Deadline: July 1, 2018 Fee: None Prize: $100,000 View Contest
The counterpart of the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award, The Kate Tufts Award, is a contest for poets who show promise and have yet to publish their first poetry book. Although much smaller than the Kingsley, the Kate Tufts award comes with a $10,000 prize.
Deadline: July 1, 2018 Fee: None Prize: $10,000 View Contest
The Glenna Luschei Prize for African Poetry is named for poet, publisher, editor, businesswoman, and philanthropist, Glenna Luschei, who has also endowed in perpetuity the literary quarterly Prairie Schooner. Her generous contribution established this annual award. In recognition of their invaluable support of our work, Glenna Luschei has welcomed the use of her name for the Prize for African Poetry.
The Glenna Luschei Prize for African Poetry is awarded annually to a book published in the previous calendar year by an African poet. They author receives an award of USD $1,000. This Pan African Poetry Prize, established to promote African poetry written in English or in translation and to recognize a significant book published each year by an African poet, is the only one of its kind in the world.
Deadline: October 1, 2018 Fee: None Prize: $1,000 View Contest
The Sarton Women’s Book Awards are given annually to women authors writing chiefly about women in memoir, nonfiction, contemporary fiction, historical fiction, and young adult. The awards are limited to submissions originally written in English and published by small/independent publishers, university presses, and author-publishers (self-publishing authors). The award program is named in honor of May Sarton, who is remembered for her outstanding contributions to women's literature as a memoirist, novelist, and poet.
Deadline: November 16, 2018 Fee: $110 (comes with subscription to Story Center Network) Prize: $150 View Contest
The O Bheal Five Words Poetry Competition is one of the more unique competitions on this list. Instead of opening yearly or even quarterly, this contest is held weekly. Every Tuesday around noon (UTC), from the 17th of April 2018 until the 29th of January 2019, five words are posted on the competitions page. Entrants have one week to compose and submit one or more poems which include all five words given for that week. One winner is selected from all the weekly winners.
Deadline: Weekly, through January 29, 2019 Fee: €5 Prize: €500 View Contest
Ron Hubbard’s Writers of the Future Contest is an opportunity for new writers of science fiction and fantasy to have their work judged by some of the masters in the field and discovered by a wide audience.
Deadline: Quarterly, through June 30, 2018 Fee: None Prize: Up to $5,000 View Contest
13. New Voices Award
The 19th annual New Voices Award is a writing competition for authors of color and native nations. The Award will be given for a children’s picture book manuscript by a writer of color or Native/Indigenous writer.
Established in 2000, the New Voices Award encourages writers of color and Native nations to submit their work to a publisher that takes pride in nurturing new talent. Past New Voices Award submissions we have published include The Blue Roses, winner of the Paterson Prize for Books for Young People; Sixteen Years in Sixteen Seconds: The Sammy Lee Story, a Texas Bluebonnet Master List selection; and It Jes’ Happened: When Bill Traylor Started to Draw, winner of the Ezra Jack Keats New Writer Award Honor.
Deadline: August 31, 2018 Fee: None Prize: $2,000 View Contest
The Bakwin Award honors full-length prose work (novel, short story collection, or memoir) by an author who is a woman. The winner will receive a $1,000 honorarium, and the winning book will be published by Blair.
Deadline: June 15, 2018 Fee: None Prize: $1,000 & published by Blair View Contest
The 83rd annual Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards recognizes outstanding works that contribute to the understanding of racism and appreciation of cultural diversity. Awards are given for fiction, poetry, and nonfiction works. The $10,000 cash prize is awarded from the Anisfield-Wolf fund.
Deadline: December 31, 2018 Fee: None Prize: $10,000 View Contest
Headmistress Press is proud to announce our fourth annual Charlotte Mew Chapbook Contest. First-prize winner will be selected by Ching-In Chen and will receive a $300 honorarium plus 20 copies of the winning book. Headmistress Press will also announce finalists, and may choose to publish other books from among the submitted manuscripts. Headmistress will be accepting submissions from May 4 to July 4, 2018 and will announce a winner in the fall. Entries should not be more than 35 pages of poetry, excluding front and back matter
Deadline: July 4, 2018 Fee: $10-20 Prize: $300 & 20 copies of your book View Contest
17. Write The World
Founded in 2012 by David Weinstein, Write The World is a program dedicated to the development of high school aged writers. They’ve created a global community and a guided interactive process that’s subscribed to by thousands of youth writers and educators.
Image via: Write the World
Their current competition is a food writing competition. Writers aged 13-18 may submit a 600 - 1,000 word essay about food. Along with cash prizes of up to $100, youth writers will receive recognition from the global Write The World community.
Deadline: Monthly Fee: None Prize: Up to $100 View Contest
The National YoungArts Foundation identifies and nurtures the most accomplished young artists in the visual, literary, design and performing arts and assists them at critical junctures in their educational and professional development.
Their youth writing competitions include submissions for non-fiction, novel, play or script, poetry, short story, and spoken word.
YoungArts winners are eligible for nomination as a U.S Presidential Scholar in the Arts. They accept non-fiction, novels, plays or scripts, poetry, short stories, and spoken word.
Ages: 15-18 or Grades: 10-12
Deadline: October 12, 2018 Fee: $35 Prize: Up to $10,000 View Contest
There are many good reasons to enter writing contests. First and foremost, there is the possibility of winning a cash prize. Secondly, having your name attached to a popular literary magazine or writing organization can help get your work seen.
With that said, before taking the plunge, be sure to read the contest guidelines thoroughly. Some writing contests have regional, age, gender, ethnicity, and word count restrictions.
If you’ve found what you’re looking for, don’t delay, get writing! Writing competitions are one of the best ways for writers to get their work in front of a broad audience.