Wednesday, November 19, 2014

12 December Writing Contests - No Entry Fee

Writing contests can serve as a powerful boost to your career. Agents and editors take note of who wins writing awards, and it's a tremendous lift to be able to put "award-winning author" on your resume.

That being said, entry costs can mount up. For that reason, it's good to start with contests that don't charge an entry fee. Below is a pot-pourri of writing contests, covering all genres and topics. If you don't find one that suits you this month, you may find one the next.

Be sure to check Free Contests for a month-by-month list of contests.

Related post: How to Win Writing Contests and Big Publishing Contracts


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 1, 2014. Read details here.

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, 2014. Read guidelines here.

The Maureen Egen Writers Exchange Award introduces emerging writers to the New York City literary community. The prestigious award aims to provide promising writers a network for professional advancement. Since Poets & Writers began the Writers Exchange in 1984, 85 writers from 33 states and the District of Columbia have been selected to participate. Restrictions: Open to Nevada residents. Genre: Poetry and Fiction. Prize: A $500 honorarium; A trip to New York City in October 2015 to meet with editors, agents, publishers, and other writers. All related travel/lodgings expenses and a per diem stipend are covered by Poets & Writers. Winners will also give a public reading of their work; and One-month residency at the Jentel Artist Residency Program in Wyoming. Deadline: December 1, 2014. For guidelines click HERE.

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, 2014. For details click HERE.

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 10, 2014. Read more details HERE.

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 15, 2014. Entry form and details here.

Spark Award: Held by SCBWI , open to members of SCBWI who are self-published. Genres: Fiction and nonfiction for children and young adults. Prize: Envy. The SCBWI is our most prestigious national organization (US) for children's book and YA writers. Deadline: December 15, Read submission guidelines HERE.

Hidden Prize for Prose is sponsored by Hidden Clearing Books. Restrictions: Open to US and Canadian residents 18 years or older. Genre: Previously unpublished English-language manuscript between 15,000 – 30,000 words, literary as well as speculative (contemporary fantasy, light sci-fi and horror) genres. Hidden Prize for Prose also accepts memoirs and creative non-fiction. Prize: $250.00 + 25 contributor copies. Deadline: December 31, 2014. Entry form and details here.

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. The winners are announced in the spring. Read full submission guidelines HERE.

GENEii Award. The Southern California Genealogical Society sponsors its annual family-history writing contest to support and encourage the writing of family history, local history, and memoirs, both by genealogists and by the public at large. Genre: Nonfiction. Prize: $200. Deadline: December 31. Read full submission guidelines HERE.

Walter Muir Whitehill Prize in Early American History will be awarded for a distinguished 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. Read full submission guidelines HERE.

Nightlight Readings Short Story Writers Contest is geared to at-risk boys in the 10-12 year age group who often stop reading for pleasure. Nightlight Reading’s goal is to fund and promote literature that appeals to boys and keeps them engaged and reading. Genre: Short stories. Prize: $1,000. Deadline: December 31. Read full guidelines HERE.


  1. You missed one: has a short story competition. First prize is 1000 USD, second prize 500 USD. All entrants also get whatever money is contributed by the public.

    1. Sorry, I forgot to add the link:


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