Skip to main content

7 Free-to-Enter National Writing Competitions That Impact Your Career

Image placeholder title

Writing contests have always been extremely popular (at least as long as I've been around the writing community), but entry fees can really add up if you're frequently or widely entering competitions.

But there ARE a handful of national writing competitions—totally free to enter—that can make a huge impact on your writing career. Here are seven.

Amazon Novel Breakthrough Award
There are two categories: general fiction and young adult. Unpublished OR self-published work is allowed. Entrants must provide a full manuscript, an excerpt from the beginning of the novel, and a novel pitch (plus some other info). The winner receives a publishing contract with Penguin.

Delacorte Press Contest for a First Young Adult Novel
Manuscripts must be between 100-224 typewritten pages. Manuscripts entered in this contest may not be under consideration with another publisher or an agent. The winner gets a publishing contract with Delacorte.

Real Simple Life Lessons Essay Contest
This popular newsstand magazine runs a contest every year looking for a personal essay by a new voice. Max of 1,500 words. The winning piece appears in Real Simple.

First Crime Novel Competition (Minotaur)
Open to any author who has not published a novel (plus self-published authors, though you may not submit your self-published work). Length should be about 60,000 words or at least 220 typewritten pages. The winner gets a publishing contract with Minotaur.

Writers of the Future Contest
All types of fantasy and science fiction work are eligible for this contest founded by L. Ron Hubbard. To be eligible, entries must be works of prose, up to 17,000 words in
length. The contest is open only to those who have not professionally
published a novel or more
than three short stories, in any medium. Winners receive cash prizes.

Harlequin New Voices
Harlequin occasionally runs competitions; the deadline for their next competition is tomorrow! Entries are accepted across 6 different romance subgenres. The first stage of submission requires your first chapter only; subsequent stages require more material.

Iowa Short Fiction Award
The manuscript must be a collection of short stories, at least 150 typewritten pages in length. Any unpublished fiction writer is
eligible to enter. Previously entered manuscripts that
have been revised may be resubmitted. Writers are still eligible if they
have published poetry or self-published a work in a small print run. The winner is published by the University of Iowa Press.

--

So, there you have 7 excellent contests I know about that don't require your cash to enter. Are there any other contests you know about and recommend?

Photo credit: mbgrigby

Poetry Prompt

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 616

Every Wednesday, Robert Lee Brewer shares a prompt and an example poem to get things started on the Poetic Asides blog. This week, write a deep thoughts poem.

Writing a Debut Novel as a Woman of a Certain Age

Writing a Debut Novel as a Woman of a Certain Age

Debut novelist Barbara Graham discusses the experience of publishing her debut novel in her 70s and how life experience made her story more powerful.

In a Dream

In a Dream

Every writer needs a little inspiration once in a while. For today's prompt, set your story inside a dream.

Writer's Digest Best General Resources Websites for Writers 2022

Writer's Digest Best General Resources Websites for Writers 2022

Here are the top general resource websites as identified in the 24th Annual 101 Best Websites from the May/June 2022 issue of Writer's Digest.

From Our Readers

What Book Ended in a Way That You Didn’t Expect but Was Perfect Anyway?: From Our Readers (Comment for a Chance at Publication)

This post announces our latest From Our Readers question: What book ended in a way that you didn’t expect but was perfect anyway? Comment for a chance at publication in a future issue of Writer's Digest.

From Script

A Deep Emotional Drive To Tell Stories (From Script)

In this week’s round up brought to us by Script magazine, read interviews with filmmakers Wendey Stanzler and Maria Judice. Plus a one-on-one interview with Austin Film Festival’s executive director Barbara Morgan.

Paul Tremblay: On Starting With the Summary

Paul Tremblay: On Starting With the Summary

Award-winning author Paul Tremblay discusses how a school-wide assembly inspired his new horror novel, The Pallbearers Club.

writer's digest wd presents

WD Presents: An Interview with Steven Rowley and Jessica Strawser, 5 WDU Courses, and More!

This week, we're excited to announce our interview with Steven Rowley and Jessica Strawser, 5 WDU courses, and more!

Writer's Digest Best Everything Agent Websites for Writers 2022

Writer's Digest Best Everything Agent Websites for Writers 2022

Here are the top websites by and about agents as identified in the 24th Annual 101 Best Websites from the May/June 2022 issue of Writer's Digest.