Some of these contests have age and regional restrictions, so be sure to check submission guidelines before submitting.
Many contests are annual, so if you miss your ideal contest this year, you can always enter next year. For a month-by-month list of free contests see: Writing Contests
Arnold Adoff Poetry Awards. Genre: Poetry books for children and young adults. Novels in verse, memoirs in verse, collections of original poetry, and edited collections are all acceptable formats for the awards. Prize: $500. Deadline: December 1, 2016.
Poetry Center at Smith College Prize. Restrictions: Open to sophomore or junior high school girls in New England. Genre: Poetry. Prize: $500. Deadline: December 1, 2016.
The David J. Langum, Sr. Prize in American Historical Fiction is offered annually to the best book in American historical fiction that is both excellent fiction and excellent history. Prize: $1.000. Deadline: December 1, 2016.
The Lyric College Poetry Contest. Restrictions: Open to undergraduates enrolled full time in an American or Canadian college or university. Genre: Poetry. Prize: $500. Deadline: December 1, 2016.
The W.Y. Boyd Literary Award for Excellence in Military Fiction honors the best fiction set in a period when the United States was at war. It recognizes the service of American veterans and military personnel and encourages the writing and publishing of outstanding war-related fiction. Genre: Military fiction. Prize: $5000. Deadline: December 1, 2016.
The Pushcart Prize honors the best "poetry, short fiction, essays or literary whatnot" published in small presses and literary magazines. Magazine and small press editors may nominate up to six works. Pushcart Press publishes yearly anthologies of the winning submissions. Prize: Publication. Deadline: December 1, 2016.
The Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poetry. Restrictions: Open to African poets who have not yet published a collection of poetry. Genre: Poetry. Prize: $1,000 and book publication through the University of Nebraska Press and Amalion Press in Senegal. Deadline: December 1, 2016.
Jessamy Stursberg Poetry Contest for Canadian Youth. Restrictions: Canadians, grades 7-12. Genre: Poetry. Prize: $400. Deadline: December 1, 2016.
Thomas and Lillie D. Chaffin Award for Appalachian Writing. Restrictions: Open to published writers who are writing from the region. Genres: All. Prize: $1000. Deadline: December 1, 2016.
The Schneider Family Book Award is sponsored by the American Library Association. The award honors an author or illustrator for a book that embodies an artistic expression of the disability experience for child and adolescent audiences. Prize: Three annual awards each consisting of $5000 and a framed plaque, will be given annually in each of the following categories: birth through grade school (age 0-10), middle school (age 11-13) and teens (age 13-18). (Age groupings are approximations). Genre: May be fiction, biography, or other form of nonfiction. Deadline: December 2, 2016.
Iron Soap. Genre: Story of around 200 words on the theme of Christmas. Prize: $10. Deadline: December 2, 2016.
Propinquity. Genre: Micro-fiction. ‘Propinquity is such a clumsy and unusual word! For this mini-contest, we dare you to show, tell, or evoke a complete story in no more than 40 words, exactly ONE of which is “propinquity.” Use it well, contestants–no fair writing a story about a spelling bee where someone has to spell it, for instance.’ Prize: $25. Deadline: December 2, 2016.
Bronx Recognizes Its Own (BRIO) provides direct support to individual Bronx artists who create literary, media, visual, and performing works of art. Prize: 25 BRIO grants of $3,000 each are awarded to Bronx artists. BRIO award winners complete a one-time public service activity. Deadline: December 9, 2016.
White River Environmental Law Writing Competition is sponsored by the Vermont Journal of Environmental Law and Vermont Law School. Restrictions: Open to all students currently pursuing a degree (J.D. or LL.M) at an accredited law school in the United States. Submissions written as a class component, as a journal requirement, or otherwise for academic credit are acceptable. Genre: Original essays addressing any relevant topic in the fields of environmental law, natural resource law, energy law, environmental justice, land use law, animal law, and agricultural law. Prize: $1000 cash prize and an offer of publication with the Vermont Journal of Environmental Law. Deadline: December 9, 2016.
Friends of American Writers. Restrictions: The author must be a resident (or previously have been a resident for approximately five years) of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Nebraska, Ohio, South Dakota or Wisconsin; or the locale of the book must be in a region identified above. The author must not have published more than three books under his/her own pen name. Genres:Books can be fiction or creative non-fiction and published in 2015. Self-published and e-Books are not eligible. Prize: $4000. Deadline: December 10, 2016.
Rider University Annual High School Writing Contest. Restrictions: Open to high school students. Genres: Essays, poetry, fiction. Prizes: 1st-$100, 2nd-$50, 3rd-$25. Deadline: December 11, 2016.
J. Anthony Lukas Work-in-Progress Award. Genre: Uncompleted work of nonfiction on a topic of American political or social concern. Prize: $30,000 fellowship. Deadline: December 12, 2016.
Minotaur Books/Mystery Writers of America Best First Novel Competition. Restrictions: The Competition is open to any writer, regardless of nationality, aged 18 or older, who has never been the author of any published novel (except that authors of self-published works only may enter, as long as the manuscript submitted is not the self-published work) and is not under contract with a publisher for publication of a novel. Genre: Murder or another serious crime or crimes is at the heart of the story. Prize: $10,000. Deadline: December 12, 2016.
Spark Award: Held by SCBWI , open to members of SCBWI who are self-published. Genres: Fiction and nonfiction. Prize: Envy. The SCBWI is our most prestigious national organization (US) for children's book and YA writers. Deadline: December 15, 2016.
Digital fiction. Genre: Digital fiction. ‘Importantly, digital fictions are different to e-books. Rather than existing as a digital version of a print novel, digital fictions are what are known as “born digital” – that is, they would lose something of their form and/or meaning if they were removed from the digital medium. For example, they may contain hyperlinks, moving images, mini-games or sound effects. In many digital fictions, the reader has a role in constructing the narrative, either by selecting hyperlinks or by controlling a character’s journey through the storyworld.’ Prize: £300 to the winner of each category (there are 5). Deadline: December 15, 2016. Entries accepted in English and Welsh.
Authors.me Romance Novel Contest. Genre: Romance novel. Prize: $200. Deadline: December 15, 2016.
Women Artists Datebook. Genre: Poetry. Green themes. Prize: $70. Deadline: December 15, 2016.
Black Caucus of the American Library Association. BCALA presents four awards to an African American writer published in the United States during the previous year: one for adult fiction, one for nonfiction, one for a first novelist and one for poetry. These awards acknowledge outstanding achievement in the presentation of the cultural, historical and sociopolitical aspects of the Black Diaspora. Prize: Four $500.00 awards. Deadline: December 16, 2016.
Elie Wiesel Prize in Ethics Essay Contest. Restrictions: Registered undergraduate full-time Juniors or Seniors at accredited four-year colleges or universities in the United States during the Fall 2015 Semester. Genre: Essay Topic: Articulate with clarity an ethical issue that you have encountered and analyze what it has taught you about ethics and yourself. 3,000 to 4,000 words. Prize: $5,000. 2nd Prize $2,500, 3rd Prize $1,500, two Honorable Mentions $500 each. Deadline: December 19, 2016. Read details here.
Alice Fay Di Castagnola Award. Restrictions: Only Poetry Society of America members may enter. Genre: Poetry, unpublished and published. Prize: $1,000. Deadline: December 22, 2016.
Lucille Medwick Memorial Award. Restrictions: Only Poetry Society of America members may enter. Genre: Poetry, unpublished and published. Original poem in any form on a humanitarian theme. Prize: $500. Deadline: December 22, 2016.
George Bogin Memorial Award. Genre: Poetry that takes a stand against oppression. Prize: $500. Deadline: December 22, 2016.
Commonwealth Club of California Book Awards. Restrictions: Open to residents of California. Genre: Book of poetry, fiction or nonfiction. Prize: Medal. Deadline: December 23, 2016.
The Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards recognizes outstanding works that contribute to our understanding of racism and our appreciation of the rich diversity of human cultures. Awards are given for both fiction and nonfiction. Prize: $10,000. Deadline: December 31, 2016. The winners are announced in the spring.
Griffin Trust for Excellence in Poetry, Griffin Poetry Prize. Restrictions: One prize goes to a living Canadian poet or translator, the other to a living poet or translator from any country, which may include Canada. Genre: Poetry. Books must have been published in English during the calendar year preceding the year of the award. Prize: C$200,000, is awarded annually in two categories – International and Canadian. Each prize is worth C$65,000. Deadline: December 31, 2016. Read details HERE.
Gover Story Prize. Genres: Short fiction and creative nonfiction. Prize: annual cash prize ($250) and publication in Best New Writing for the best fiction and creative nonfiction under 10,000 words. Finalists are also published in Best New Writing. Deadline: December 31, 2016. Submit HERE.
Kansas Book Award. Restrictions: Author must establish a connection to Kansas by birth, education, employment, residence or other significant claim. Genre: Book of fiction. Prize: $1,000. Deadline: December 31, 2016. Read details HERE.
L. Ron Hubbard's Writers of the Future Contest. Genre: Speculative fiction prose, up to 17,000 words. Prize: $1,000 with $5,000 grand prize. Deadline: December 31, 2016. Read details HERE.
SPS Studios Poetry Card Contest. Genre: Poem. Prize: $300. Deadline: December 31, 2016. Read details HERE.
William Carlos Williams Poetry Competition. Restrictions: Open to students attending allopathic or osteopathic schools of medicine in the United States and Canada. Genre: Poetry. Prize: $300. Deadline: December 31, 2016. Read details HERE.
Society of Classical Poets, Poetry Competition. Genre: Poetry. Three to five poems, each of which does not exceed 50 lines. The poems must be within the four themes used by the Society (at least one poem must be in the Issues of Our Age theme.) Prize: First Prize: $500. Deadline: December 31, 2016. Read details HERE.
Best Translated Book Awards for Poetry. Genre: Published poetry book. Prize: $5,000: one apiece for the author and translator of the winning book in poetry. Deadline: December 31, 2016.
Caribbean Writers Prizes. Genre: Short fiction, nonfiction, books. Prize: $400 - $500. Deadline: December 31, 2016.
Fountain Magazine Essay Contest. Genre: Essay. 1,500 - 2,500 words. "In the context of this current moment in history, The Fountain’s 2016 Essay Contest invites you to consider the issues facing today’s immigrants. Are you an immigrant, too? Were your parents or grandparents immigrants? Are we all immigrants in this world? How do immigrants contribute to your society? How do they cause problems in your society? How would you help immigrants thrive?" Prize: 1st Place - $1,500, 2nd Place - $750, 3rd Place - $300, Two Honorable Mentions - $200 each. Deadline: December 31, 2016.
Goldstein, Lawrence, and Clayton Prizes in Poetry and Short Fiction. Sponsored by Michigan Quarterly Review. Genres: Poetry, short fiction. Prize: $1,000. Deadline: December 31, 2016
Neil Postman Award for Metaphor. Sponsored by Rattle. Genre: Poetry. Prize: $1,000. Deadline: December 31, 2016.
Northern California Book Awards. Restrictions: Open to residents of northern California. Genre: Published books of all genres. Prize: $100. Deadline: December 31, 2016.
USNI Naval History Essay Contest. Genre: Essay. Prize: First Prize: $6,000. Second Prize:$3,000. Third Prize: $2,000. Deadline: December 31, 2016.
Walter Muir Whitehill Prize in Early American History. Genre: Essay on early American history (up to 1825), not previously published, with preference being given to New England subjects. Prize: $2,500. Deadline: December 31, 2016.
Eastern Iowa Review. Restrictions: For writers who have fewer than two publications (any kind). Genre: Fiction, poetry, CNF. Prize: $100. Deadline: December 31, 2016.
From the Horse's Mouth Short Story and Poetry Competitions. Genres: Poetry, short fiction up to 5,000 words. Prize: £100 top prize. Deadline: December 31, 2016.
Dapim: Studies on the Holocaust Article Prize Competition 2016. Genre: Nonfiction of 7,000-10,000 words about the Holocaust. Prize: $1,000 top prize. Deadline: December 31, 2016. Questions/submissions: firstname.lastname@example.org
Words Magazine. Genre: Short story on theme of "Murder." (2000 words max). Prize: 1st - £50, 2nd - £25. Deadline: December 31, 2016.
Relevant Reads. Restrictions: US residents only. Genre: Story between 1,000 and 10,000 words in one of the following categories: Diversity, Historical Fiction, Fantasy, Horror /Suspense, or Teens by Teens (“Categories”). Prize: $3000. Deadline: December 31, 2016. Note: Winning authors give up all publishing rights.
Nightlight. Genre: Short story on theme of "Mystery." "This contest is geared to encouraging professional and amateur writers to write stories for at-risk boys in the 10- to 12-year-old age group who often stop reading for pleasure because of a lack of engaging literature for their age group. Nightlight Reading’s goal is to fund and promote literature that appeals to boys and keeps them engaged and reading." Prize: $1000. Deadline: December 31, 2016.
Alban Lake. Genre: Micro-fiction (drabbles) of exactly 100 words. "The theme of this contest is: Dear Abby in the 24th Century. Basically, we’re looking for stories that are a bit off-beat, quirky, unusual. What would be the problems Abby would have to address in the future, and how would she address them?" Prize: $1. Deadline: December 31, 2016.
New Terrain Award. Restrictions: Open to undergraduates. Genre: Environmental writing — poetry, fiction or non-fiction. Prize: $250. Deadline: December 31, 2016.