Monday, December 28, 2020

44 Writing Contests in January 2021 - No entry fees

This January there are more than three dozen writing contests calling for every genre and form, from poetry, to creative nonfiction, to completed novels. Prizes range from $100,000 to publication. None charge entry fees.

Some of these contests have age and geographical restrictions, so read the instructions carefully.

If you want to get a jump on next month's contests go to Free Contests. Most of these contests are offered annually, so even if the deadline is past, you can prepare for next year.

Good luck! 

(Photo credit: Pixabay)


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The Reedsy Writing Prompts Contest. Genre: Short story. (See prompts) Prize: $50. Deadline: January 1, 2021.

Vermont Writers' PrizeRestrictions: Open to residents of Vermont. Genres: Short story, poem, play or essay on the theme of Vermont - its people, places, history or values. Entries must be unpublished and fewer than 1,500 words long. Writers may submit only one entry per year. Prize: $1,250 and publication in Vermont MagazineDeadline: January 1, 2021.

Stacy Doris Memorial Poetry AwardGenre: Poem, 3-10 pages long, that demonstrates a "truly inventive spirit." Prize: $500 and publication. Deadline: January 1, 2021.

Minotaur Books/Mystery Writers of America Best First Crime Novel CompetitionRestrictions: 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: January 1, 2021.

Tony Hillerman Prize. Sponsored by St. Martin's Press. Genre: Debut mystery novel set in Southwest.  Prize: $10,000 advance against royalties and publication, Deadline: January 2, 2021.

Texas Institute of Letters Literary AwardsRestrictions: Entrants must have resided in Texas for at least 2 consecutive years, or have been born in Texas. Genre: Book (published). 11 different categories.  Prize: $6,000. Deadline: January 4, 2021.

Japan Center-Canon Essay Competition. The aim of the Japan Center Essay Competition is to promote awareness and understanding of Japan in the United States and to help young Americans broaden their international horizons. Genre: Essay. Contestants should write, in English, one or more aspects of Japan including art, culture, tradition, values, philosophy, history, society, politics, business, and technology in relation to their personal views, experiences, and/or future goals. (Contestants do not need to have any experience in visiting Japan or studying Japanese. Prize: Best Essay Award in the High School Division: 1st Place: $3,000 and a Canon camera, 2nd Place: $1,500 and a Canon camera, 3rd Place: $750 and a Canon camera; Best Essay Award in the College Division: $3,000 and a Canon camera; Uchida Memorial Award: $1,000 and a Canon camera; Merit Award: $200 (each) for up to five awards. Deadline: January 8, 2021.

Man Booker International Prize. The Man Booker International Prize for fiction translated into English is awarded annually by the Booker Prize Foundation to the author of the best (in the opinion of the judges) eligible novel or collection of short stories. Prize: £50,000 divided equally between the author and the translator. There will be a prize of £2,000 each of the shortlisted titles divided equally between the author and the translator. Deadline: January 8, 2021 for works published between January 1 and April 30, 2021.

The Prism Prize for Climate LiteratureRestrictions: Open to USA and UK writers. Genre: Full-length book: fiction, poetry, and literary non-fiction writing in the emerging genre of climate literature. Prize: $1000 and publication. Deadline: January 8, 2021. 

Northern California Book AwardsRestrictions: Books written by authors based in northern California and published for the first time the previous calendar year are eligible for nomination. Genre: Published book. Prize: $100. Deadline: January 10, 2021.

Orwell PrizeGenre: Political writing published between 1st January and 31st December 2020. All entries must have a clear British link. Journalism and ‘exposing Britain’s social evils’. Prize:  £3,000.00. Deadline: January 11, 2021.

In the Mood for LoveGenre: Romantic short stories, CNF or nonfiction. Prize: 1st Place:$100 and Publication; 2nd Place: $50 and Publication; 3rd Place: $25 and Publication. Deadline: January 11, 2021.

Author Mentor MatchGenre: Completed YA or MG manuscript. Prize: Mentorship by published author. Deadline: January 11 - 14, 2021.

Arnold Adoff Poetry AwardsGenre: 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: January 15, 2021.

Neukom Institute Literary Arts AwardsGenre: Play that addresses the question: “What does it mean to be a human in a computerized world?” Prize: $5000. Deadline: January 15, 2021. 

The Bechtel PrizeGenre: Essays describing a virtual creative writing teaching experience, project or activity that demonstrates innovation in creative writing instruction. "We are looking for essays that describe a project or activity that got students excited about writing and fostered a vibrant and dynamic culture of literacy in the virtual classroom. We welcome essays about projects that carved a space for students to reflect on the events of the past year (eg. public health, social distancing, racial justice protests, etc.)." Prize: $1000 and publication. Deadline: January 15, 2021.

The Lumiere Review Writing ContestGenre: Poetry, prose. Prize: $100. Deadline: January 15, 2021.

The Hillman Prize for JournalismGenre: Journalism. "Since 1950, the Sidney Hillman Foundation has honored journalists, writers and public figures that pursue investigative journalism and public policy in service of the common good." Prize: $5,000. Deadline: January 15, 2021 for Canadian entries, January 30, 2021 for US.

Washington State Book AwardsRestrictions: Open to Washington State writers. Genre: Published book, all genres. Prize: $500. Deadline: January 15, 2021.

John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Essay Contest is sponsored by the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation. Restrictions: The contest is open to United States high school students in grades nine through twelve attending public, private, parochial, or home schools; US students under the age of twenty enrolled in a high school correspondence/GED program; and US citizens attending schools overseas. Genre: Essay on an act of political courage by a US elected official who served during or after 1956. Prize: The first-place winner receives $10,000 comprised of a $5,000 cash award and $5,000 from John Hancock. The second-place winner receives $1,000. Up to five finalists receive $500 each. Deadline: January 15, 2021.

French-American Foundation Translation PrizesGenre: Book - best English translation of French in both fiction and non-fiction. Prize: $10,000. Deadline: January 15, 2021.

Janet Heidinger Kafka PrizeRestrictions: Open to women, US citizens only. Genre: Novel. All entries must be submitted by publishers who wish to have the work of their authors that were published in the year 2018 considered. No self-published works or works from vanity presses will be accepted. Prize: $7,500. Deadline: January 15, 2021.

Walter Muir Whitehill Prize in Early American HistoryGenre: Essay on early American history (up to 1825), not previously published, with preference being given to New England subjects. Prize: $2,500. Deadline: January 15, 2021.

Novella-in-Flash AwardGenre: Flash fiction/Novella. 6000 to 18000 word limit – each flash should not be more than about 1000 words. Prize: £300 prize for the winner, two runner-up prizes of £100. Deadline: January 17, 2021.

Pink Poetry PrizeGenre: Poetry. Prize: $1000 and publication. Deadline: January 17, 2021.

Bethesda Urban Partnership Essay ContestRestrictions: Open to residents of Washington, DC and select counties in Maryland and Virginia. Genre: Essays. Length: 500 words maximum. Prize: $500 in adult category (age 18+) and $250 in high school category (ages 14-17). Deadline: January 18, 2020.

Bethesda Magazine Short Story ContestRestrictions: Open to residents of Washington, DC and select counties in Maryland and Virginia. Genre: Short stories. Length: 4000 words maximum. Prize: $500 in adult category (age 18+) and $250 in high school category (ages 14-17). Deadline: January 18, 2020.

Nine Dots PrizeRestrictions: Open to authors age 18+. Genre: Summary response to "What does it mean to be young in an ageing world?" The winner will expand on the ideas expressed in their summary response by participating in a seminar at the University of Cambridge and by writing a short book (25,000-40,000 words) to be published by Cambridge University Press. Prize: $100,000. Deadline: January 18, 2020.

Elie Wiesel Prize in Ethics Essay ContestRestrictions: 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: First Prize $5,000, 2nd Prize $2,500, 3rd Prize $1,500, two Honorable Mentions $500 each. Deadline: January 19, 2021. Read details here.

Poetry Society of Virginia - Student Contest. Restrictions: Open to students in Virginia, grades 3 - 12. Prize: $10 - $25. Deadline: January 19, 2021.

Encore Award. Restrictions: Open to British or Commonwealth citizens. Genre: Second published novel. Book must have been first published in the UK. Prize: 10,000 pounds. Deadline: January 22, 2021.

The Roadrunner ReviewRestrictions: Open to students, graduate and undergraduate. Genre: Fiction, CNF, Poetry. Prize: $100. Deadline: January 21, 2021.

Lex Allen Literary Festival PrizesRestrictions: Open to undergraduate college students. Genres: Poetry and fiction. Prize: $100. Deadline: January 22, 2021.

Zocalo Public Square Poetry PrizeRestrictions: Open to US poets only. Genre: Poetry that evokes a connection to place. Prize: $500. Deadline: January 29, 2021. Note: Winning author gives up all rights.

Technology Addiction Awareness ScholarshipRestrictions: Open to a high school freshman, sophomore, junior, or senior or a current or entering college or graduate school student of any level. Home schooled students are also eligible. There is no age limit. You must also be a U.S. citizen or legal resident. Genre: 500- to 1,000-word essay about technology addiction. Prize: $1000 scholarship.  Deadline: January 30, 2021.

Walter Rumsey Marvin GrantRestrictions: Open to authors under 30 years of age who have not had a book published. Applicant must have been born in Ohio or have lived in Ohio for a minimum of five years. Genre: Short fiction and creative non-fiction. Prize: $1,000. Deadline: January 31, 2021.

A Public Space Emerging Writer FellowshipsRestrictions: Open to writers who have not yet contracted to publish a book. Prize: $1000 and six months of editorial support from A Public Space editors to prepare a piece of prose for publication in the magazine. Deadline: January 31, 2021.

Jerry Jazz Musician Fiction Contest. "The Jerry Jazz Musician reader has interests in music, social history, literature, politics, art, film and theater, particularly that of the counter-culture of mid-twentieth century America." Genre: previously unpublished work of short fiction. Prize: $100.00.  Deadline: January 31, 2021.

The Danuta Gleed Literary Award for best first collection of short fiction in the English language was initiated by John Gleed in honour of his late wife to promote and celebrate the genre of short fiction, which she loved. Restrictions: Canadian residents only. Prize: A $10,000 prize will be awarded for the best first collection of published short fiction in the English language. Two finalist will also be awarded $500 each. Deadline: January 31, 2020.

The 2021 Stratford Literary Festival/Salariya Books Children's Picture Book CompetitionRestrictions: Open to residents of the UK and Ireland. Writers must be unpublished by a mainstream publisher. Genre: Children's picture book, unpublished. Prize: First prize: £1000.  Deadline: January 31, 2021.

Caine Prize for African WritingRestrictions: Open to writers born in Africa, or nationals of an African country, or with a parent who is African by birth or nationality, Genre: Short fiction (published). Prize: £10,000. Deadline: January 31, 2021.

Stephen A DiBiase Poetry PrizeGenre: Poetry. Prize: $500. Deadline: January 31, 2021.

Helen and Kurt Wolff Translator's Prize. The annual Helen and Kurt Wolff Translator's Prize is awarded each spring to honor an outstanding literary translation from German into English published in the USA the previous year.  Genre: Published fiction or non-fiction, may include: novels, novellas, short stories, plays, poetry, biographies, essays and correspondence. Prize: $10,000. Deadline: January 31, 2021.

Michael E. DeBakey Medical Student Poetry AwardsRestrictions: Only undergraduates currently enrolled in accredited United States medical schools are eligible. Genre: Poetry. Prize: $1,000 top prize. Deadline: January 31, 2021. Note: Winners do not retain copyright.

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