Just like a dazzling firework, these wonderful contests will be gone before you know it! Take the time to check out our curated list, and find the perfect fit for your explosively brilliant writing!
Inspired by journalist and essayist Richard J. Margolis, this prize has provided financial and other support to a promising journalist whose work combines warmth, humor, and wisdom with social justice since 1992. This prize recognizes one writer with $5000, and a one-month residency at the Blue Mountain Center in Blue Mountain Lake, NY. Applicants need to provide a cover letter, biographical note, a project description, and two writing samples. Guidelines here.
Entry Fee: FREE Deadline: July 1
Here is a great chance for writers of all stripes, as the Los Angeles Review’s contest rewards authors in creative nonfiction, short fiction, flash fiction, and poetry! Aimee Liu judges creative nonfiction, Kristen Millares Young judges short fiction, Ellen Meeropol judges flash fiction, and Francisco Aragón judges poetry. The winner in each category receives $1000 and publication – Make sure you submit to the correct category! Submission guidelines here.
Entry Fee: $20 Deadline: July 14
All three of the Bellevue Literary Review’s contests are ending soon, so enter now if you want to receive one of the three $1000 and publication first-place prizes! All entries should be related to themes of health, healing, illness, the mind, and the body. Dan Chaon is judging fiction, Jen Bervin is judging poetry, and Kay Redfield Jamison is judging nonfiction. Honorable mention winners also earn $250 and publication! Submit here.
Entry Fee: $20 Deadline: July 15
These awards, presented by Nimrod International Journal through the University of Tulsa, honor the work of writers at the beginning of their careers in either fiction or poetry. Contestants can enter up to five pages of poetry, and up to 5000 words of prose. The winner of each category will receive $500 and their manuscript will be published in the spring issue of Nimrod! Details here.
Entry Fee: $12 Deadline: July 15
Rattle is looking for an outstanding piece of poetry, and they are definitely willing to bribe you for it! This annual competition awards $15,000 for a single poem to be published in the winter issue of their magazine. Ten finalists also receive $500 and publication, and are eligible for the $5000 Reader’s Choice Award. Four poems are allowed per entry, and there is no line limit. What are you waiting for? Enter here!
Entry Fee: $25 Deadline: July 15
The Cincinnati Review is currently accepting submissions for their annual contest, but all good things will eventually come to an end. The winning poem, fiction piece, and literary nonfiction piece will be judged by Rebecca Lindenberg, Michael Griffith, and Kristen Iversen, respectively. The winning entries will be published in 2021 and receive $1000 each, so don’t lose your chance! Learn more here.
Entry Fee: $20 Deadline: July 15
The award-winning literary travel magazine Nowhere is looking for writers who know how to convey time and place with ease and grace! Submissions may be fiction, nonfiction, poetry, or essay, and can range from 800 to 5000 words. The winner receives $1000 and publication, and up to 10 finalists will be published as well. Check it out!
Entry Fee: $15 Deadline: July 15
This competition is a daunting gauntlet for any first-time author to run, but the reward at the end is well worth the effort! A $20,000 book prize is awarded to the author of a collection of short stories that was published this year, and entries may be submitted by agents, authors, or publishers. Currently they’re accepting submissions of books that were published from January through June. Are you eligible? Do it!
Entry Fee: FREE Deadline: July 15
This amazing prize is offered to a promising emerging writer through Bard College, and the winners receive a stipend of $30,000, an appointment as writer-in-residence on campus for one semester, and the opportunity to give a public lecture. Be aware, though, they’re looking for writers who are 39 years old or younger. You’ll need to have published a book in order to apply, but this is the chance of a lifetime! More information here.
Entry Fee: FREE Deadline: July 30
This contest is open to all fiction and nonfiction writers, writing anything from short stories and memoirs, to essays and literary nonfiction! The entries need to be less than 15,000 words and previously unpublished, while containing a strong narrative drive and intense insights. First prize is $2500, second is $1000, and third is $500. Guidelines here.
Entry Fee: $27 Deadline: July 31
This is the third year for Red Hen Press’ contest, whose prize is for any writer with a previously unpublished, original work of fiction! Acceptable submissions are between 15,000 and 30,000 words. The winner, selected by judge Donna Hemans, receives $1000 and publication by Red Hen Press. Learn more here!
Entry Fee: $25 Deadline: July 31
This is the month to send in your work to the Virginia Quarterly Review, because it’s the only time of year that they accept unsolicited submissions! They’re looking for fiction, poetry, and nonfiction, and they’re willing to pay over $1000 for accepted content. Don’t miss your chance! Details here.
Entry Fee: FREE Deadline: July 31
by Kimberly Guerin