To help you keep track of the available writing contest opportunities, we’ll post a list each month of the upcoming contests we’ve heard about. (If you have an upcoming writing contest that you’d like included on the list, please contact Veronica with the details.)
We also have a Writing Contests Pinterest board and a NEW Art and Illustration Contests Pinterest board, which we try to keep updated on all the contests we hear about, as long as the contest information is pinnable. (Check frequently, as some agents post writing contests on the spur of the moment with a 24-48 hour entry period, and you never know when such an opportunity might pop up.)
Please remember, not all contests are right for all people. Some of these contests have an entry fee, while others do not. Some are judged by professional authors/illustrators, agents or editors, while others are smaller contests run by bloggers. I’ve tried to include as many contests as I can find, to give you a wide range of choices, but inclusion on this list does not necessarily constitute endorsement of the contest by Sub It Club. Make sure to do your own research on each contest before deciding whether or not to throw your entry into the ring! (Please read all rules before entering any contest!)
Also, it goes without saying (but I’ll say it anyway): DO NOT enter ANY contests unless your manuscript is fully finished and query-ready. (There are a few contests that pop up from time to time for unfinished manuscripts, but if the rules don’t specify that the contest is for unfinished manuscripts, please assume that it’s for query-ready manuscripts only!) If an agent requests a full manuscript, and you don’t have one to send, it’s disappointing for both of you.
12/29: Great Expectations 2014 Contest - This contest is open to all authors who have never been published in book-length romantic fiction as well as authors who have not been contracted or published in the entered category during the last three years (during 2011, 2012 or 2013). Entry fee of $25 for members of NTRWA or $30 for all others. Entries accepted in multiple categories. Check to see which category is the best fit for your ms.
12/31: Dark Crystal Author Quest Contest Deadline: This isn’t so much a contest as it is an open audition to try out for the Work-for-Hire Dark Crystal prequel novel. Send in 7,500-10,000 words that represent the story you would tell in a full-length Dark Crystal novel. It can either be the first chapters, final chapters, a collection of middle chapters, or a short piece that would form the inspiration for a novel-length story.
12/31: Blue Mountain Arts Biannual Poetry Card Contest - Poems can be rhyming or non-rhyming, and are judged on the basis of originality and uniqueness. Enter as often as you’d like. Winning poems will be displayed on the Blue Mountain Arts website.
12/31: San Francisco Writing Contest - Open to writers worldwide in six categories: fiction, memoir, nonfiction (not including memoir), poetry, children’s books, and young adult. There is also a contest for self-published books and eBooks. Writers may enter up to the first 1500 words of an unpublished (except for the self-published category) novel or short story, memoir, other nonfiction, poem, children’s, or young adult book. You may enter more than once in a category and in more than one category. The winners will be announced at the 2014 San Francisco Writers Conference. There is a $45 fee per entry.
1/1 – 1/31: Highlights Fiction Contest - Short stories up to 800 words. No crime, violence, or derogatory humor. Manuscripts or envelopes should be clearly marked FICTION CONTEST. Those not marked in this way will be considered as regular submissions to Highlights. (Entrants must be at least 16 years old at the time of submission.)
1/4: Writer’s Outworld One-on-One Contest – Submission window opens at noon EST, and the first 50 queries will be accepted, from which the top 10 will make it into the contest. Equipped with only three votes, the writers who make it into the contest will read through each of the other entries and vote on their favorites. (Writers are not allowed to vote for their own entry.) The query with the greatest number of votes will win one on one time (30 minutes) with an agent to ask about anything from query advice to opinions on the current state of the publishing market. Winning doesn’t guarantee a request. Open to YA and Adult mss.
1/8: Pitch Wars Twitter Pitch Party - Tweet your 140-character pitch, including the hashtag #PitMad, between 8am and 8pm EST. (If you are a contestant in Pitch Wars, please do not pitch your ms during this Twitter Pitch Party!) Open to all genres & categories. (To prepare for the best Twitter Pitch Party experience possible, please read this post by Literary Agent Julia Weber with some great Dos & Don’ts for pitch contests!)
1/8: The Smooch Writing Contest - ”First Kiss” scene from an unpublished work-in-progress. Scene must be a minimum of 4 pages, maximum 8 pages. Mss must be Unpublished (traditionally or independently) in full-length novel format, in any genre. Contest only open to Active Members of the Romance Writers of America. Open to romance mss, any sub-genre.
1/15: Cape Cod Writers Center First Annual Writing Contest - Entries judged by writers, editors, and librarians, offering a top prize in each category of $100 OR a choice of two (2) courses in the 2014 Cape Cod Writers Conference. All entrants must be 18 years of age or older. Open to poetry, MG, YA, Adult fiction & Adult non-fiction. Entry Fees: $25 Prose, $15 Poetry
1/15: 2014 Narrative Travel Writing Contest - “We are looking for well-written inspirational pieces which will lead others to experience the sense of engagement as a global citizen.Accompanying photos which enhance the narrative are highly preferred. Photojournalistic essays or accompanying videos will also be considered, and humor is appreciated where appropriate.” Submit an original and previously unpublished essay from 1,000 to 5,000 words.
1/18: Sun vs. Snow - Submissions will start on Saturday, January 18th at noon Eastern time and last until 8:00 pm Eastern time on Sunday, January 19th. Entries will include title, genre, word count, full query and first 250 words. There will also be a special question to be answered about Sun or Snow. (More details in the submission post to come in January.) Open to Adult, NA, YA, and Middle Grade genres. (For a chance to win a FREE PASS into the contest, check out this post before January 6th!) Use the hashtag #sunvssnow to stay up to date on contest information.
1/23: Writing and Illustrating’s First Page Critique Contest – Enter to win a first page critique from Agent Sean McCarthy. For January only, anyone who submits a picture book will get their names placed in the hat twice. (Make sure you note that your submission is a picture book.)
1/26: 2014 Winter Rose Contest for Unpublished Authors - Enter the first twenty-five (25) pages of romance novels of all above sub-genres (at least 50,000 words). All entrants must be RWA members in good standing who have not published a novel in the last 5 years. Entry fee of $25.
1/31: International Illustrated Silent Book Contest - For illustrators only! The 2014 SILENT BOOK CONTEST will give prize money and publication to an original illustrated and unpublished book project that has been created and produced exclusively through narration by illustrated images. The winner will receive a cash prize and publishing contract for their book.
1/31: AKC Family Dog 27th Annual Fiction Writing Contest - Entries may feature either a purebred or mixed breed dog. The maximum length is 2,000 words. Entries exceeding that length will not be considered. No talking dogs, please. All acceptable entries will be read by a panel of judges selected by AKC Publications. They will choose the winners based on the style, content, originality, and appeal of the story. All decisions are final. Winners will be announced in an issue AKC FAMILY DOG in 2014.
2/1: RWA New England Chapter First Kiss Contest – “Send us the scene from your book where your couple first kisses. The scene should convey the emotion and romantic conflict between the characters, sparkle with creative dialogue, description, and characterization, and move the story forward.” Scene should be 10 pages maximum plus 1 set-up page. Entrants must be unpublished in book-length fiction. Entry fee of $25.00 for each entry, $20.00 for NEC members, Outside U.S. $28.00.
2/15: Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival Entries Due – “Organizers of the Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF) have called upon illustrators of children’s books around the world to participate in the third edition of the Sharjah Exhibition for Children Book’s Illustrations.” The exhibition will be held on the sidelines of the Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival from April 15 to 25 at the Expo Centre in Sharjah. Interested applicants need to submit a minimum of three and a maximum of six of their original works together with their participation form to SIBF before February 15, 2014. Open to Children’s Book Illustrators.
2/21/14: Pacific Northwest Writers Association Literary Contest - All entries must be ORIGINAL and NOT previously accepted for publication or production by contest deadline. An author may enter separate works in (any of the 12) different categories, but only one entry per category. There is an entry fee for this contest!
4/1 – 4/31: SCBWI Work-In-Progress Grants - Seven Grants of $2,000 will be awarded annually, one in each category. Seven Runner-Up Grants of $500 will also be awarded, one in each category. Authors of other projects cited by the judges as noteworthy will receive a Letter of Merit. Categories include: Picture Book Text (Barbara Karlin Grant), General Fiction, Contemporary young adult novel, Multi-cultural fiction, and Nonfiction research . You must be a member of SCBWI to apply.
4/12: Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize - The Prize is for a novel by a woman over the age of 21 that marries literary merit with unputdownability. The work must be unpublished, and must not have been accepted for future publication or self-published. In addition, anyone who has previously had a full-length novel accepted for publication is not eligible to enter. Entrants must be resident in the UK. Open to MG, YA, NA and Adult mss (no Picture Books) – There is a fee of £10 per entry for this contest!
March 2014: NAESP Foundation National Children’s Book of the Year Contest - I don’t think the information is posted yet for 2014, but you can check out the details for 2013′s contest at the link above. Open to Picture Books & Chapter Books Only. (There is an entry fee for this contest.)
4/15 – 8/15: Pockets Magazine Fiction Contest - Stories should be 750–1,000 words. (Stories shorter than 750 words or longer than 1,000 words will be disqualified.) From the Pockets website: “Our primary interest is in stories that can help children deal with real-life situations. We do not accept stories about talking animals or inanimate objects. Fictional characters and some elaboration may be included in scripture stories, but the writer must remain faithful to the story.”
7/1: Bookstar UK 2014 Competition - Bookstar is open to works of fiction (all genres) and biographies (UK authors only). There is a reading fee of £5.00 for each submission. Enter via the form on the contest information page.
9/30: Hackney Literary Awards for Novels - The Hackney Literary Awards, sponsored by the Cecil Hackney family of Birmingham, Alabama, was established in 1969. A $5,000 prize is sponsored by the Morris Hackney family for an unpublished novel. Length is open but the novel must be unpublished. Publication rights revert to winner. (Entry fee: $30.00 per entry.)
*A big THANK YOU to Meredith’s Musings for your awesome “Contest Circuit” page, which got me thinking about adding this page to the Sub It Club blog in the first place! <3