Do a Google search for writing contests and you’ll find over 44 million results. That huge pool of general fiction contests is one reason I don’t submit my work to them anymore — the thought of my speculative fiction entry getting lost among thousands is depressing. And really, would my genre submissions be taken seriously in such competitions? Here are four contests that will place your short story in a smaller group of other science fiction, fantasy and horror submissions to be judged by those who understand these genres. Deadlines are in the second quarter of the year. These are free or low-fee contests, with one of them paying industry-standard rates to the grand prize winner.
Albedo One, Ireland’s Magazine of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror, announces the 9th International Aeon Award Short Fiction Contest. Entries in science fiction, fantasy or horror genres up to 10,000 words. Contest runs from January 1 through November 30 with four rounds (or quarters) throughout the year. Deadlines: March 31, June 30, September 30, November 30 – but enter anytime because submissions that miss a deadline (except the final one) go into the next quarter and multiple entries are allowed throughout the competition. The best submissions are chosen from each quarter and shortlisted for consideration for three prizes at the end of the year. Entry fee: €7.50. Grand prize: €1000; second prize: €200; third prize: €100, plus place winners are published in Albedo One.
The inaugural Baen Fantasy Adventure Award will be given to the best piece of original short fiction that captures the spirit and tradition of such great storytellers as Larry Correia, Robert E. Howard, Mercedes Lackey, Elizabeth Moon, Andre Norton, J.R.R. Tolkien, David Weber and Marion Zimmer Bradley. Short stories up to 8,000 words. All fantasy genres accepted. No reprints. No entry fee – but only one submission per person. Grand prize winner will be published on the Baen Books main website and paid at industry-standard rates for professional story submittals. Grand Prize, second and third place winners receive a prize package containing various Baen Books. Deadline: June 30, 2014.
British Fantasy Society Short Story Competition accepts stories up to 5,000 words written in English, previously unpublished, not under consideration elsewhere. Any kind of fantastical story – fantasy, science fiction, horror, supernatural, fabulation, magic realism, slipstream, etc. or any combination of those genres. Open to BFS members and nonmembers. Nonmembers pay £5 entry fee. 1st prize: £100. 2nd prize: £50. First and second place receive a year’s BFS membership and publication in the BFS Journal. 3rd prize: £20 and publication in the BFS Journal. Deadline: June 30, 2014.
Writers of the Future Contest is open to new and amateur writers of unpublished science fiction or fantasy short stories or novelettes up to 17,000 words. Entrants retain all publication rights. Prizes are awarded every three months: $1,000, $750, $500. Quarterly first-place winners are eligible for the Annual Grand Prize of $5,000. No entry fee. Current quarterly deadline: June 30, 2014.
Good Luck! And let me know of other spec fic contests I can add to the list.