Finding a reputable short fiction contest that doesn’t charge an entry fee is like seeking the Holy Grail. You believe it’s out there, but you’re not sure you have the commitment to find it.
The thing about no entry fee contests is they can pay in gift certificates and peanuts, or they can pay big. The big ones, as you can imagine, receive a slew of entries. In other words, only consider your best work, because lots of others are sending their second best. Just be careful! Sometimes the fine print in free contests states that all entries become the property of the company hosting the contest!
FundsforWriters is a sponsor of an annual essay contest, with entry fee and no entry fee categories. The no entry fee submitters double the number of the paid entries. But as a whole, the quality of the paid entries outweighs the freebies. For some reason, paying to enter makes one think twice before hitting send. The good news is that your polished, brilliant piece will shine like a diamond in a bucket of coal. The bad news is that the judges have to dig through a zillion entries to get to it. Either way, it costs you nothing to compete. You have no excuse not to enter.
Take a look at these contests. They pay good money, and they are sponsored by concrete organizations. You can write speculative, literary, religious, animal, children’s or mainstream fiction with this selection of opportunities. The odds might be a little high, but if you place in any of these, you have a clip in your portfolio that beats a hundred other contests that paid in t-shirts, Amazon gift certificates and contributors’ copies.
AMERICAN KENNEL CLUB FICTION CONTEST
Deadline January. First place $750. Second place $500. Third place $250. The winning stories are published in the AKC Gazette and AKC Family Dog. Entries can be on any subject, but must feature either an AKC-registrable breed or a breed listed in the Miscellaneous class. The maximum length is 2,000 words.
BLACK ORCHID NOVELLA AWARD
Deadline May. Each entry must be an original unpublished work of fiction that conforms to the tradition of the Nero Wolfe series. Entries must be 15,000 to 20,000 words in length. Prize – $1,000 from Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine plus, publication in the magazine.
FIREBRAND FICTION / SF READER SHORT STORY CONTEST
Deadline between November 1 and December 31. Wants fiction between 1,000 and 6,000 words. Open to all writers, published or unpublished. 1st Place: $200, publication, and an author’s interview posted in our interview section. 2nd Place: $100 and publication. 3rd Place: $50 and publication.
LESLIE GARRETT SHORT FICTION PRIZE
Deadline January. First, $200. Second, $100. Third, $50. In memory of the late Knoxville author. Winners announced mid-March. There is no fee in keeping with the late author’s deathbed request. Entry consists of one short story or novel excerpt totaling no more than 6,000 words each. No more than two entries may be submitted per contestant.
DRUE HEINZ LITERATURE PRIZE-SHORT STORIES/ NOVELLAS
Deadline June. Open to writers who have published a book-length collection of fiction or a minimum of three short stories or novellas in commercial magazines or literary journals of national distribution. The prize carries a cash award of $15,000 and publication by the University of Pittsburgh Press under its standard contract.
GLASS WOMAN PRIZE
Deadline September. Awarded for a piece of short fiction or creative non-fiction written by a woman. Length: between 1 and 25 pages. The prize for the second award is US $380 and online publication.
HIGHLIGHTS FOR CHILDREN FICTION CONTEST
Deadline February. Funny children’s stories that have fewer than 500 words. Each year is a different theme. Three prizes of $1,000 each.
INNERMOONLIT AWARD FOR BEST SHORT-SHORT STORY
Deadline September. Entrants must specify that they are entering the Best Short-Short Story Contest and must indicate the number of words in their submission (500 words maximum). First prize: $100; second prize: $50; third prize: a signed copy of Brian Agincourt Massey’s novel.
LILLITH FICTION COMPETITION
Deadline September. LILITH Magazine is looking for unpublished original stories with heart, soul and chutzpah illuminating issues in the lives of Jewish women. First Prize: $250 and publication of story in LILITH Magazine.
POCKETS – UPPER ROOM CONTEST – FICTION
Deadline August. $1,000 award and publication on Pockets. No theme. Historical fiction not accepted. 1,000 to 1,600 words.
RALPH NADING HILL CONTEST
Deadline November. Want to turn Vermonters on with your good ideas? $1,500 cash prize. Co-sponsored by Green Mountain Power and Vermont Life, the contest is open to any student or resident of Vermont. Submit your thoughts on “Vermont, Its People, The Place, Its History, or Its Values” as an essay, short story, play, or poem. Your entry must be 3,000 words or less.
Deadline May. $10,000 for an original, unpublished work of short fiction. Maximum 4,000 words. The winning story will be published in Minnesota Monthly. The competition is open to residents of Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Michigan.
Ongoing. This competition is open to individuals of any nationality and age and stories can be submitted from anywhere in the world. Entries must be written in English and based on actual events. They must be no longer than 1,500 words, be written in the first person and previously unpublished. The prize is