8 Top Writing Contests for Writers With Publishing Dreams

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Lisa is a freelance writer, consultant and life coach. She has her BA in English and Creative Writing from Princeton and her MPA from Harvard. Lisa recently finished the first draft of her book manuscript, Burning Down the House. Her dream is to publish this first book and teach the world how to discover their hidden joy. Her post day is Tuesday.
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8 Top Writing Contests: Shiny Trophy by Matthias Kulka

Aspiring writers often look to writing contests to help launch their writing career and gain feedback to improve their writing skills.

While I am taking a short vacation from writing, all of you authors out there with publishing dreams might want to think about entering one of the following upcoming writing contests I’ve gathered here.

Writing contests can be great PR if you are lucky enough to win.

8 Top Writing Contests for Writers With Publishing Dreams

1. National Book Foundation National Book Awards

DEADLINE: June 15, 2012
Entry Fee Amount: $125.

Three prizes of $10,000 each are awarded annually to honor a book of poetry, a book of fiction, and a book of creative nonfiction written by U.S. writers and published in the United States during the eligibility year. Four finalists in each category receive $1,000 each. Publishers may submit an entry form by June 15. Books, bound galleys, or bound manuscripts published or scheduled for publication between December 1, 2011, and November 30, 2012, should be submitted to the judges and to the National Book Foundation by August 1. The entry fee is $125 per title. See their website for details: www.nationalbook.org

2. Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards

DEADLINE: June 15, 2012
Entry fee Amount: $100. for the first entry, and $75. for each additional entry

Whether you’re a professional writer, a part-time freelancer or a self-starting student, this is a chance to enter the only self-published competition exclusively for self-published books. Writer’s Digest hosts the 20th annual self-published competition – the Annual Self-Published Book Awards. This self-published competition spotlights today’s self-published works and honors self-published authors. See their website for details: www.writersdigest.com/competitions/selfpublished

3. Write Integrity Press Manuscript Contest

DEADLINE: June 15, 2012
Entry Fee: $25.

WIPC is looking for books in series of three, and winners could receive a three-book publication contract. The series of books can be fiction or nonfiction, but must carry a message of hope. One First Prize fiction winner will receive a $500. Cash Prize and a standard publication contract for the three-book series. Two runners-up in fiction will receive our standard publication contract for at least one book, and perhaps all three. One First Prize non-fiction winner will receive a $500. Cash Prize and our standard publication contract for the three-book series. Two runners-up in nonfiction will receive our standard publication contract for at least one book, perhaps all three. See their website for contest details: www.writeintegrity.com

4. The Room Magazine Contest

DEADLINE: June 15, 2012
Entry Fee: $42.

Room Magazine is calling all women writers to sharpen your pencils or fire up your laptop and send us your fiction, poetry, or creative non-fiction contest entries. First prize in each category is $500., 2nd prize $250., plus publication in the summer 2013 issue of Room. Judges: Cathleen With (fiction), Miranda Pearson (poetry), and Kathy Page (creative non-fiction). See their website for contest details: www.roommagazine.com/contest

5. The Writer 2012 Travel Essay Contest

DEADLINE: June 15, 2012
Entry Fee: $10.00

Have you learned something surprising about another culture — or your own? Met a memorable character who altered your world view in some way? Seen something monumental or simple that left an indelible impression? It’s time to write about your unforgettable experiences as a traveler, whether your travels took you to an exotic destination or a hometown treasure. WTE is looking for personal stories of up to 1,200 words that convey readers to distant lands — or the park around the corner — to share the traveler’s experience and insight. First place prize is $1,000 (USD); enrollment in a 10-week online writing workshop offered by Gotham Writers’ Workshop ($420 value); publication in The Writer and on WriterMag.com; and a one-year subscription to The Writer. See their website for contest details: www.writermag.com/travelcontest

6. Blue Mountain Center Richard J. Margolis Award

DEADLINE: July 1, 2012
Entry Fee: NA

A stipend of $5,000 and a monthlong residency at the Blue Mountain Center, an artists colony in Blue Mountain Lake, New York, is given annually to a writer of nonfiction (including creative nonfiction with the exception of memoir) whose work recalls that of Richard J. Margolis, a journalist, essayist, and poet who wrote about those whose voices are seldom heard. Submit three copies of at least two writing samples totaling no more than 30 pages and a project description by July 1. There is no entry fee. See their website for contest details: award.margolis.com

7. The Sunday Times Oxford Literary Food and Drink Writing Award

DEADLINE: October 1, 2012
Entry Fee: NA

Food and drink has to be at the heart of the tale. The story could, for instance, be fiction or fact about a chance meeting over a drink, a life-changing conversation over dinner, or a relationship explored through food or drink. It could be crime or intrigue; in fact, any subject you like as long as it involves food and/or drink in some way. Your short story should be up to 2500 words in total in English. Entries should be submitted by email as a Word document to the mogfordprize@oxfordliteraryfestival.org. The winning entry will be announced at the Sunday Times Oxford Literary Festival in March 2013. The winner will receive £7500. See their website for contest details: oxfordliteraryfestival.org/news/article/food-and-drink-writing-award-launched

8. The Independent Publisher Book Awards

DEADLINE: The 2013 IPPYs will open on about July 1, 2012, accepting books released between November 2011 and March 2013.
Entry Feet: TBA

The “IPPY” Awards were conceived as a broad-based, unaffiliated awards program open to all members of the independent publishing industry, and are open to authors and publishers worldwide who produce books written in English and intended for the North American market. IPPY defines “independent” as:
1. Independently owned and operated;
2. Operated by a foundation or university;
3. Long-time independents that became incorporated but operate autonomously and publish fewer than 50 titles a year.
See their website for contest details: www.independentpublisher.com/ipland/ipawards.php

The Poet’s and Writer’s website has a comprehensive database of Writing Contests, Grants and Awards for writers that include details about creative writing contests–including poetry contests, short story competitions, essay contests, awards for novels, and more–that they’ve published in Poets and Writers Magazine during the past year.

One great thing about their database is that they carefully review the practices and policies of each contest before listing them.  You have to be very careful not to get taken by writing contest scams.

To visit one of the most trusted resources for legitimate writing contests available anywhere go to: www.pw.org/grants

Be sure to let me know if you decide to enter any of these writing contests.


  • You’d easily win any of these… rest and be well.

  • Nithya

    Hope you are feeling better dear Lisa.