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 in 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 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
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
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