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2019 Writing Contests: The Ultimate Guide

August 23, 2018 9 min read 0 Comments

Writing Contests

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 2019.

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 were 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? UseSprinter, 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.


20 Writing Contests in 2019

1. 2019 Fiction Contest

To celebrate the launch of our beta reader platform, we're hosting a fiction writing contest with $7,500 in prizes. Our judging process is unique and very transparent. Instead of editors, we match your work with private beta readers on our platform who rate your story. Highest overall score wins in each of the four categories: short story, novelette, novella, and novel!

Deadline:December 1st, 2019 Fee: None Prize: $1,000 - $3,000  View Contest

2. Amazing Women's Edition

Tell us about an amazing woman. The National Youth Foundation is pleased to announce the 2020 Amazing Women's Edition Contest student book competition. Students are tasked to get to know women in their communities and tell us about the heroines. The contest is open to students in grades K-8. Prizes include $500 for the student(s), $250 for the teacher or parent advisor and the book is published and donated to schools and libraries across the country.

Deadline: January 6, 2020 Fee: None Prize: $500 and Publication of Book View Contest

3. 2019 Accenti Writing Contest

The annual Accenti Writing Contest has an open topic. Multiple entries are welcome. The contest is open to prose works of fiction, non-fiction or creative non-fiction with a maximum length of 2000 words. Winners are chosen by blind judging. Four finalists make the shortlist, from which the judges choose the winner. The popular vote winner is the submission from among the four finalists that receives the most votes by Accenti readers. Winners' names, bios and submissions will be posted on Accenti in May and reported in the Accenti Newsletter. Top prize: $1000.00 (CDN) and publication in Accenti. Two runner-up prizes: $100.00 (CDN) each and publication in Accenti. Popular Vote prize: $100.00 (CDN) and publication in Accenti.

Deadline: February 3rd, 2020  Fee: $30  Prize: $100 - $1,000 View Contest

4. The Juniper Literary Prizes

The Juniper Literary Prizes showcase distinctive and fresh voices and share their work with a wide array of readers. Every year, faculty-judges from the distinguished University of Massachusetts MFA program select two winners in poetry, two in fiction, and one in creative nonfiction, and the awardees each receive an honorarium of $1,000 and a publication contract with the University of Massachusetts Press.

Deadline:September 30, 2019 Fee: $30 Prize: $1,000 View Contest

5. Story Catcher Novella-Writing Contest

For the first time, Covenant Communications is partnering with BYU to host a novella-writing contest. All writers are welcome and encouraged to submit to any of the three categories: historical romance, suspense, and sci-fi/fantasy. Four winners will be chosen-one from each category and one overall winner. Each winner will receive $100, have their novella published through Covenant Communications, and receive royalties.

Deadline: October 15, 2019 Fee:None Prize: $100, publication, and royalties  View Contest

6. 2019 African American Voices in Children’s Literature: Writing Contest

Strive Publishing & Free Spirit Publishing are partnering to shine a spotlight on
Minnesota’s African American authors in the first annual African American Voices
in Children’s Literature Writing Contest.

Eligible entries will include original fiction or nonfiction board books for ages 0–4 (50–125 words) and picture books for ages 4–8 (300–800 words) featuring contemporary African American characters and culture and focusing on one or more of the following topics: character development, self-esteem, diversity, getting along with others, engaging with family and community, or other topics related to positive childhood development.

Deadline: June 30, 2019 Fee: None Prize: $1000 View Contest

7. 2019 Nelligan Prize for Short Fiction

The Nelligan Prize for Short Fiction was established in 2004 in memory of Liza Nelligan, a writer, editor, and friend of many in Colorado State University’s English Department, where she received her master’s degree in literature in 1992. By giving an award to the author of an outstanding short story each year, we hope to honor Nelligan’s life, her passion for writing, and her love of fiction.

The Nelligan Prize is offered annually. The winner receives a $2,000 honorarium and the story is published in the fall/winter issue of Colorado Review.

Deadline: March 14, 2019 Fee: $15 Prize: $2,000 View Contest

8. SFC Literary Prize

The biennial $50,000 Literary Prize is sponsored by St. Francis College to offer its support and encouragement to the literary community and mid-career authors who have recently published their 3rd to 5th work of fiction. 

  • Self-published books and English translations are considered.
  • The next Prize will be for work published between June 2017 and May 2019.

Deadline: May 15, 2019 Fee: None Prize: $15,000 View Contest

9. The Restless Books Prize For New Immigrant Writing

The ethos of the modern world is defined by immigrants. Their stories have always been an essential component of our cultural consciousness, from Isaac Bashevis Singer to Isabel Allende, from Milan Kundera to Maxine Hong Kingston. In novels, short stories, memoirs, and works of journalism, immigrants have shown us what resilience and dedication we’re capable of, and have expanded our sense of what it means to be global citizens. In these times of intense xenophobia, it is more important than ever that these boundary-crossing stories reach the broadest possible audience.

With that in mind, we are proud to present The Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing. We are looking for extraordinary unpublished submissions from emerging writers of sharp, culture-straddling writing that addresses identity in a global age. Each year, a distinguished panel of judges will select a winning manuscript to be published by Restless Books. We can’t wait to read and share what the new voices of the world have to say.

Deadline: March 31, 2019 Fee: None Prize: $10,000 View Contest

10. Sarton Women's Book Awards

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: July 1, 2019 (Early Bird Entry) Fee: $90 (Early Bird Fee)  Prize: $100 + commemorative medallion and advertising considerations View Contest

11. 6th Ó Bhéal Five Words International Poetry Competition

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 16th of April 2019 until the 28th of January 2020, 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 28, 2020 Fee: €5 Prize: €500 View Contest

12. L. Ron Hubbard’s Writers of the Future 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: March 31, 2019 Fee: None Prize: Up to $5,000 View Contest

13. Writer's Digest Annual Writing Competition

Writer’s Digest has been shining a spotlight on up and coming writers in all genres through its Annual Writing Competition for more than 80 years. Enter our 88th Annual Writing Competition for your chance to win and have your work be seen by editors and agents! Almost 500 winners will be chosen. The top winning entries of this writing contest will also be on display in the 88th Annual Writer’s Digest Competition Collection.

Deadline: May 6, 2019 Fee: $25 Prize: $5,000 View Contest

14. Drue Heinz Literature Award

The Drue Heinz Literature Prize recognizes and supports writers of short fiction and makes their work available to readers around the world. The award is open to authors who have published a book-length collection of fiction or at least three short stories or novellas in commercial magazines or literary journals.

Manuscripts are judged anonymously by nationally known writers. Past judges have included Robert Penn Warren, Joyce Carol Oates, Raymond Carver, Margaret Atwood, Russell Banks, Rick Moody, and Joan Didion.

Winners receive a cash prize of $15,000, publication by the University of Pittsburgh Press, and support in the nation-wide promotion of their book.

Deadline: June 30, 2019 Fee:None Prize:$15,000 View Contest

15. Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize

Established in 1981, the Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize is administered by the
University of Pittsburgh Press. Named in honor of Agnes Lynch Starrett, the Press’s
first director, the prize is awarded for a first full-length book of poems.

The prize carries a cash award of $5,000 and publication by the University of
Pittsburgh Press as part of the Pitt Poetry Series. The series is edited by Ed Ochester, who also serves as final judge in the Starrett competition.

Deadline: April 30, 2019 Fee: $25 Prize: $5,000 View Contest

16. Miami Book Fair/ De Groot Prize

The Miami Book Fair, the nation’s finest and largest literary gathering, presented by Miami Dade College, has partnered with The de Groot Foundation to launch the Miami Book Fair/De Groot Prize to be awarded to an author for an unpublished novella.

Deadline: April 30, 2019 Fee:None Prize: $6,000 and publication by Melville House  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.

Write The WorldImage 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

18. ServiceScape Short Story Award 2019

Calling all short story writers: Are you a short story writer interested in gaining more exposure and a bigger audience for your creative work? Would an extra $1,000.00 USD in your pocket be a great thing right now?

If so, the ServiceScape Short Story Award is the perfect way to achieve both. For this award, any genre or theme of short story is accepted. All applicants should submit their original unpublished work of short fiction or nonfiction, 5,000 words or fewer, to be considered. Along with receiving an award for $1,000.00 USD, the winner will have his or her short story featured within our blog, which reaches thousands of readers per month. Rules and exclusions apply.


Deadline: November 30, 2019 Fee: None Prize: $1,000 View Contest

19. Narrative Prize 2019

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.

The winner is announced each September, and the prize is awarded in October. The award, citing the winner’s name and the title and genre of the winning piece, is widely publicized, and each winner is cited in an ongoing listing in Narrative. The prize will be given to the best work published each year in Narrative by a new or emerging writer, as judged by the magazine’s editors. In some years, the prize may be divided between winners, when more than one work merits the award.

Deadline: June 15, 2019 Fee:None Prize: $4,000 View Contest

20. Architecture of Power: Short Story Contest

Welcome to 2019; polarizing political views are an ever-present reality and it doesn't seem to be improving. Whether you live in the US or on the other side of the globe our environments are actors in the theater of influence. What happens when design becomes part of the equation?

Write a short story that puts into narrative how architecture and the built-environment affect the lives of the people in power and those on the fringes of society.

Deadline: February 28th, 2019  Fee: $25 Prize: $500 + Bonus 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.


Carlton ClarkCarlton Clark loves to write about business, baseball, and popular culture. A writer, marketer, and entrepreneur. At the age of 14, he founded the media company Currently, Carlton helps businesses share their stories through social media and blogging. When he’s not writing or creating content, Carlton coaches youth baseball at his local high school and plays guitar. You can find him online on Instagram @itscarltonclark, and on Twitter @carlton_mukasa



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