Writing Awards and Prizes

Writing Awards and Prizes

A word about writing contests…

Most literary magazines have an annual award for fiction, nonfiction, and poetry — there are at least a hundred of them. Mostly they are for a single story or essay, but there are also many for books (collections of stories, or essays, or a novel, etc.), which I haven’t listed here. The contests usually have fees of around $15-25 per submission and are anonymously judged by a guest judge, usually a well-known writer. Winners are published in the magazine; runners-up are sometimes published, too. Deadlines are often in the fall, though there are many in the spring, too.

One advantage with these contests is that, because they’re judged anonymously, there’s no way for the editors to favor already established writers, which unfortunately does happen a lot (at least with fiction), so it can be easier for someone who isn’t named Joyce Carol Oates to get a story into print anonymously. And if you’re just looking to have something to talk about in a query letter to a literary agent, even placing as a runner-up or finalist can be helpful.

Some to look at (please note that there are scores of awards like these that can be found at Poets and Writers), and the deadlines vary wildly, but many are in the fall or spring:

Bellingham Review Literary Contests

Genres: fiction, poetry and nonfiction.

Prize: $1,000 and publication

Black Warrior Review Writing Contest from the University of Alabama

Genres: Poetry, fiction, nonfiction and flash fiction.

Prizes: $1500 in fiction, nonfiction and poetry and $800 in Flash category. All include publication. 

Boston Review Aura Estrada Short Story Contest

Genres: Fiction.

Prizes: First prize is $500 and publication. Runners-up will also be published. 

Colorado Review Prizes

Genres: Poetry, fiction.

The Colorado Prize for Poetry: $2,000 honorarium and publication of 500 copies.

Nelligan Prize for Short Fiction: $2000 and publication in the Colorado Review.

Crab Orchard Review Writing Prize

Genres: Fiction, literary nonfiction and poetry.

Prize: $1250 grand prize and publication


Fish Short Story Prize

Genres: Fiction.
Prizes: First prize: €3,000, and 5-day Short Story Workshop at the West Cork Literary Festival. 2nd prize: €300 and a week at Anam Cara Writers’ Retreat.  3rd prize: €300. Sevent Honourable Mentions €200 each. The Fish Anthology will publish the top ten stories.   

Florida Review Editors’ Awards

Genres: Fiction, poetry and creative nonfiction.

Prizes: $1000 and publication in The Florida Review.

Gulf Coast Contest

Genres: Fiction, nonfiction, and poetry.

Prizes: $1,500 and Gulf Coast publication for the winner in each genre. Two honorable mentions in each genre are awarded $250. 

Indiana Review Fiction Prize

Genre: Short story.

Prize: $1000 + publication.

Iowa Review Awards

Genres: Poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction.

Prize: $1,500; first runners-up receive $750. All are published the December issue.

Los Angeles Review Literary Awards

Genres: Poetry, short stories, short-short story and essay.

Prizes: Four $1,000 prizes and Los Angeles Review publication.

Mississippi Review Prize

Genres: Poetry, fiction, and nonfiction.

Prizes: $1,000 and publication in the Mississippi Review. 

Missouri Review Jeffrey E. Smith Editors Prize

Fiction, nonfiction and poetry.

Prizes: First place in each category receives $5,000.

New Letters Awards

Genres: Poetry, essay, fiction.

Prizes: $2,500.

October Fiction Award: $750 and publication.

October Fiction Award: winner will be published in New Letters and $750.

Nimrod Literary Awards

Genres: Fiction and poetry prizes, plus a special category/contest for new writers.

Prizes: First prize: $2,000; Second prize: $1,000. Francine Ringold for new writers: $500 in fiction and poetry. All include publication.

Rosebud Poetry Awards

Genre: Poetry.

Prizes: $500 for the best poem; Three runners-up will receive $100; all will featured in Rosebud.

University of Georgia Flannery O’Connor Short Fiction Award

Genre: Short fiction

Prize: $1,000 and publication

Zoetrope: All-Story Short Fiction Competition

Prizes: First prize is $1000, second prize is $50, and third prize: $250. Prizewinners and honorable mentions are considered for representation by top literary agencies.