Writing Contests That Don’t Rip You Off

Legitimate Writing Contests: How to Spot Them & Where to Enter

There are hundreds of writing contests out there and, sadly, many of them are designed primarily to make the contest’s sponsor richer. The Internet, it seems, has spawned an entire industry of quasi-legitimate writing contests that take advantage of writers’ thirst for recognition. Most genuine writing contests – the ones that are actually interested in encouraging and rewarding writing as opposed to making money, are free to enter or have a fairly low entrance fee that covers expenses.

How to Tell if a Writing Contest is Legitimate

A few questions to answer before you enter any contest that requires an entry fee are:

  • Who is running the contest? If it’s an outfit you’ve never heard of, it may be a good idea to steer clear.
  • What is on the contest page? If the website consists solely of an entry form without any information about the organization running the contest or the contest’s purpose, it’s probably not on the up-and-up.
  • How often does the contest run? Monthly contests are a red flag.
  • What is in the fine print? By entering are you granting rights to the contest organization, such as the right to publish your work and profit from it? Will you be required to use the sponsor as your agent? Will you be giving up copyright? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, think twice.

Top Legitimate Contests for Writers

Writers of the Future Writing Contest

Rules: Must be unpublished, no longer than 17,000 words and be science fiction, fantasy or dark fantasy-themed.
No Entry Fee
PRIZE: $1,000  DEADLINE: June 30, 2015

ABA Journal/Ross Writing Contest for Legal Short Fiction

Rules: Short fiction of under 5,000 words that “illuminate the role of the law and/or lawyers in modern society.”
No Entry Fee
PRIZE: $3,000  DEADLINE: June 30, 2015

The Relentless Playwright Award

Rules: “…Plays that are challenging, display valiancy, are non-mainstream, exhibit passion, and are relentlessly truthful. The Foundation especially invites submissions by emerging, first-time playwrights, women, and playwrights of color.”
No Entry Fee
PRIZE: $45,000.00, plus the choice to have the Dramatists Play Service publish his or her play, plus a seven day residency at SPACE on Ryder Farm. DEADLINE: July 10, 2015

GrayWolf Press NonFiction Prize

Rules: The prize is awarded to an “innovative literary nonfiction project by a writer not yet established in the genre. The prize will be awarded to a manuscript in progress.”

No Entry Fee

PRIZE: $15,000 and publication by the University of Pittsburgh Press. DEADLINE: June 30, 2015

MASH Stories Writing Competition

Rules: 500 words in any genre, on the current theme. Competitions run quarterly, with 3-word themes selected each quarter

No Entry Fee

PRIZE: $100. All shortlisted stories are published on the MASH website, and narrated by professional voice actors and broadcast in MASH podcast.

DEADLINE: Quarterly: July 15, 2015, October 15, 2015, January 15, 2016

Fairy Tale Review Prize

Rules: Submit a fairy tale work “along the spectrum of mainstream to experimental, fabulist to realist.” Up to 8,000 words. 10% of the entry fee is used to fund a youth poetry slam.

Entry Fee:$10.00

PRIZE: $1,000 DEADLINE: July 15, 2015

Mark Twain Humor Contest

Rules: 7,000 words or fewer. Submit any original work of humor writing. Must be in English but not required to be in the style of Mark Twain. Open to adults and young authors.

PRIZE: From $100 $1,000

Entry Fee: $22.00 for adults, $12.00 for writers under the age of 18  DEADLINE: July 10, 2015

Ricepaper Magazine Fiction Contest

Rules: Flash fiction of up to 500 words, on this year’s secret ingredient theme: Ramen.

Entry Fee: $25.00

PRIZE: $250.00 and publication in the magazine  DEADLINE: July 1, 2015

Aura Estrada Short Story Contest

Rules: Previously unpublished short story of up to 5,000 words

Entry Fee: $20.00

PRIZE: $1500.00 and publication in The Boston Review  DEADLINE: October 1, 2015


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4 thoughts on “Writing Contests That Don’t Rip You Off

  1. Pingback: How to Deal With Rejection Syndrome | jean's writing

  2. Pingback: Writing Contests That Don't Rip You Off - Best Selling Book

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