Hello my lovelies!
2023 is off to a stellar start, and if you're the kind of planner I wish I was, you're already thinking ahead to what's next. So in that vein, today I’m giving you My Two Cents on Writing Competitions to enter in 2023.
Admittedly, I've only done a few writing competitions so far in my career, and you can read about a lot of them in my earlier blog posts (as well as read some of my entries). But it is my goal to enter at least three this year, so this research isn't only for you. I will try my best to make this list well-rounded, with a little something for everyone.
You'll find competitions for those of you that are already published, those looking to get published, those who just love writing and don't necessarily care about being published, and beginning authors who just want to learn/get feedback. I included a mix of paid and free contests, and I've also tried not to just give one genre/style of writing. Though I do admit that I'm sure there is a lot that isn't covered here, so I've included some more resources at the very bottom that list hundreds of other contests I didn't cover! So happy browsing friends!
Pencraft Book Awards
Cost: $39 USD
Writing Level: Professional/Experienced
Who is it for: Published authors with full-length already published novels (fiction and nonfiction, basically all genres accepted).
What is it: Nominate your completed, published book for an award that recognizes outstanding writing and new insights into humanity.
When: Awards happen seasonally.
Spring (April 2023)
Summer (July 2023)
Fall (October 2023)
Eligibility: Anyone can nominate (you, publisher, or agent) and any number of books can be entered. Previous entrants are allowed to enter again, and you can enter as many books as you want to pay the entry fee for. Books must have a release date after January 1, 2020, and before September 10, 2023 (so no prereleases and no older books). They can only have 1-2 authors (so no anthologies).
Awards: There are various cash prizes awarded for the most unique, best non-fiction, best fiction, and best entries per genre.
Final Thoughts: This one is a prestige thing. There are cash awards, but this award is more for the ability to say you're a "Pen Book Award Winner" than anything else. (Much like the Caldecot, or Booker Prize). Since I don't have a published book, this one isn't for me and I don't have too much to say about this!
First Pages Prize
Cost: $20 USD
Writing Level: Newer experienced writers who aren't professionals
Who is it for: Emerging authors with a completed fiction or creative nonfiction piece who are unrepresented (no agent or publisher).
What is it: Submit the first 5 pages (1250 words) of your completed, unpublished, un-agented longer work (fiction or creative nonfiction)
When: Submission deadline is March 20, 2023
Eligibility: Must be un-agented and unpublished. Must be 18 or older and own the rights to the work. Previous entrants who didn’t win 1-3rd place are allowed to enter again.
Awards: 1-3rd place winners win various cash prizes PLUS a developmental mentoring and introduction to industry professionals (agents and publishers).
Final Thoughts: This would be an amazing opportunity for new writers who are hoping to get published. While cash prizes are always nice, again, the real award from this competition is the developmental mentorship you receive from it. They will work to help you polish your MS and introduce you to industry professionals that can help you get your book published.
Elegant Literature Contest
Writing Level: New/Unpublished
Who is it for: Writers who have not been professionally published (writers who have not been paid for their work). There are a lot of specific guidelines on their page so if you're unsure please check it out.
What is it: Write a short story (any genre) about the theme “All that Glitters,” and include the word “clock.” (clocks/clocked also acceptable).
When: Closes January 31, 2023
Eligibility: Must be a novice writer (not professionally published). Minimum 500 words, maximum 2000. Aged 13 and over
Awards: Grand Prize $3,000, 2nd-10th Place- $0.10/word plus publication in the magazine, 11th-35th Place, $20 cash prize and honorable mention in the magazine.
Final Thoughts: This contest seems really interesting. I find it nice that they make the distinction that published/professional authors aren't allowed to enter. It gives the rest of us a chance to be recognized, which is cool. I'm not 100% sure about the judges in this one. To me, they don't seem especially distinguished (like maybe they are also trying to build their presence), BUT at a $5 entry fee for a chance to win $3,000, it seems worth a try to me.
Globe Soup 7-day Story Writing Challenge
Writing Level: All
Who is it for: Anyone (previously published, not previously published, new, old and everywhere in between writers).
What is it: Writers receive a mystery genre and mystery theme and must complete, edit and submit an entry in seven days.
When: They happen sporadically throughout the year and members are invited to participate after they register on the Globe Soup website. You must register to receive your group/theme.
Eligibility: Any story is eligible to submit as long as it falls within the parameters. There is no minimum length but a maximum of 2,000-word entries and they should be constructed within the 7-day time period. Entries cannot be previously published but once the contest is over author retains rights and is free to do whatever they like with their story
Awards: One £500 prize is handed out for each contest.
Final Thoughts: I've talked about and entered this contest several times, so I won't belabor my gushing, but this is one I HIGHLY, HIGHLY recommend. Writers are also encouraged to join a Facebook group of other participants and there are multiple opportunities for feedback exchange with other members (both on the entered pieces and on other writing). I'm a member of this group and have received INVALUABLE feedback about a lot of my writing, plus unconditional support and encouragement from both new and tenured authors. This is a great group, and even though I'm not sure my writing style really meets the judge's refined tastes, I will likely continue entering. I have had several pieces come out of this challenge that I really love and I might not have come up with without the challenge. (In fact, I'm publishing a full length story that began out of this challenge on Kindle Vella next month). Anyway, the point is, this contest is great, you should definitely try it!
Reedsy Weekly Writing Contest/Prompts
Writing Level: All
Who is it for: Everyone. There are various themes/categories and this is open to new and established authors with unpublished work to submit.
What is it: There is a weekly contest with a theme that costs $5/entry You can choose one of four prompts and enter.
When: Contests happen weekly, and entries must be submitted before the following weekly contest comes out.
Eligibility: Short stories must fall within the theme and guidelines and should be written according to the 7-day challenge guidelines. Also, they must be previously unpublished and entrants must be 18 or older.
Awards: One $250 prize per week is awarded and the winner is also featured on the prompts page for the following week.
Final Thoughts: Reedsy is an industry-recognized leader in the publishing community. They have highly acclaimed agents/publishers host seminars constantly and they have a proven track record of giving really good advice/training to aspiring authors, so this is a great one. In addition to the low-cost contest entry fees, they have additional prompts and themes for writers to choose from for free. These stories can be posted to the writer’s profile and serve as a way for authors to practice their skills and grow beyond their chosen genre. There is also an option to participate in a critique circle, in which prompts are paired and writers are encouraged to give feedback. This is an opportunity for writers to learn and grow from one another, and this aside from a contest helps build a writer's community.
Wergle Flomp Poetry Contest
Writing Level: All
Who is it for: All Poets (previously published, not previously published, new, old and everywhere in between writers). All ages are also accepted.
What is it: Up to 250 lines of humorous poetry
When: Deadline April 1, 2023
Eligibility: It is pretty open, no theme, no real eligibility except the work must be owned by the submitter. Previously published works are accepted (as long as the writer retains rights). Any age is accepted.
Awards: 12 entries honored (1- 1st prize, 1- 2nd prize, and 10 honorable mentions). Each receives a cash award, their entries are published and the grand prize winner wins a gift card from Duotrope (writers' resource).
Final Thoughts: I don't know too much about poetry, it isn't really my thing, but I thought this one seemed interesting, and their magazaine is pretty cool. IF you are a poet, it seems a fun way to win a couple bucks, plus get your work published.
L. Ron Hubbard’s Writers of the Future Contest
Writing Level: All
Who is it for: New writers of science fiction (SF) and Fantasy
What is it: Enter a previously unpublished piece of short prose (up to 17,000 words) of SF or fantasy intended for adult audiences.
When: Quarterly (Next deadline March 31, 2023)
Eligibility: Must be at least 18 or older, and be a new author (not previously professionally published) Only non-professionally published authors will be considered (professional publication is defined as being paid at least $0.08/word or at least 5,000 hits/purchases). No children’s entries or poetry are accepted and work must be SF or fantasy.
Awards: Various cash prizes are awarded quarterly including one grand prize of $5000
Final Thoughts: Again, I love that this contest distinguishes that professionals can't enter this one. It's specifically for SF and Fantasy, which again, isn't my bag. I don't really enjoy reading it most of the time (I will admit, I have gotten wrapped up in a few that most self-respecting SF/Fantasy lovers would be ashamed of me for). I digress. The point is, I think this one seems cool if you are into Fantasy/SF.
Other blogs with more exhaustive lists of writing competitions:
I've only given you a few of the contests that stuck out to me, but below you'll find some really reputable sites that have more exhaustive lists of available contests.
Reedsy: The Best List of Writing Competitions in 2023 https://blog.reedsy.com/writing-contests/
Globe Soup: Writing Competitions https://www.globesoup.net/writing-competitions
Pro Writing Aid: The Best Writing Contests for Writers https://prowritingaid.com/writing-contests?gclid=CjwKCAiA5Y6eBhAbEiwA_2ZWIX9v5br0IitlXJPTzwPXDHF2gPsglzJfLYBRdxEseIaVt0018kGIOBoC13gQAvD_BwE
Dystopian Stories: Writing Competitions in 2023 https://dystopianstories.com/writing-competitions-contests/
Overall final thoughts on contests--if you want to be a published author, you should definitely enter contests. The benefits are many, but ultimately, your work is being seen by others, you are pushing your competitive drive, you're growing as an author, and they usually help you build a writing community which is so, so important in this business.
So, that's all I have today folks, My Two Cents on Writing Contests in 2023
-Rose Rayne Rivers
Comment below and tell me about writing contests you love. Do you think you'll try any of these?
Also, let me know if you have any topics you want me to cover in the upcoming weeks!
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