Free Writing Contests

Instructor: Adam Nystrom

Adam owns a Master's degree in Professional and Digital Media Writing. During his time as a graduate assistant, he developed lesson plans for upper-level English courses.

The allure of prizes for your writing can be soured when you find out there is an entry fee in a contest. With this list, the only thing you need to worry about is the quality of your text, so have a look through these free contests to see which ones match your style.

What Free Writing Contests are Available?

The following writing contests are free to enter for qualifying writers:

Contest NameDescription
Graywolf Press Nonfiction PrizeWriters of nonfiction who have not yet made a name in the genre should check this out. Potential submissions can come in the form of autobiography or history writings.
Word Harvest Tony Hillerman PrizeNew mystery writers will want to take a look at this contest, which is seeking fiction books set in the American Southwest that focus on the solution of crime.
Young Lions Fiction AwardWriters under the age of 35 can submit novels or collections of short stories to this group, which selects five finalists every year.
Anisfield-Wolf Book AwardsThis is an elite category, as the winners (one fiction, one non-fiction) are writers who have previously released their work through a traditional publisher.
L. Ron Hubbard's Writers of the Future ContestFor new science fiction and fantasy writers, this contest runs the most frequently, recurring every three months.

What Are the Prizes?

For the contests listed on this page, the prizes typically involve cash rewards and/or a publishing contract. Dollar amounts range from $500 to $10,000.

What Are the Rules?

Some of the contests have restrictions based on categories such as age, or previous publication, that will prevent you from entering. Others, such as the Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards, ask for multiple hard copies. Be sure to check the official rules on each contest's website before submitting your work.

What Makes a Free Contest a Good One?

The contests we have included in this article don't ask anything of the writer other than the writing itself, and possibly a cover letter or resume. There are no entry fees, and the only thing stopping you from entering these contests is finishing your work.

How Can I Improve My Chances of Winning?

If you are looking to brush up on your writing skills, you might consider the following options, which can help you:

  • Explore methods for avoiding redundancy in your writing and using precise style with these video lessons on English Style.
  • Connect with your audience through writing and understand tone and voice by watching lessons on Developing Your Message.
  • Refresh yourself on point of view, literary motifs and character development through brief videos on Literary Terms.

The short and engaging videos presented in these chapters are useful tools for enhancing your existing writing talent and can help you improve your chances to win those coveted prizes.

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