If you’re a speculative fiction writer who has never entered a writing contest, I encourage you to give it a try. It could be the kick-in-the-pants you need to call a story done and send it out into the world. You’ll find every flavor of writing contest on the following list from flash fiction to short story to novel.
Not sure how your story measures up to others in your genre? Some contests offer feedback as part of the entry fee (#7 and #8). Don’t like paying for contests? More than half on this list have no entry fee or low fees of $10 and under. And if you tend to write longer stories that don’t usually fit within contest guidelines, the fantasy contest at Inkitt (#6) has no word limit and no entry fee. For a unique approach in contests, check out The Ink & Insights 2015 novel contest (#8) where judges are assigned based on the genre and experience level of the manuscript.
Sometimes writers must weigh several factors when deciding if a contest is right for their work. The old standby Writers of the Future (#10) accepts up to 17,000 words with no fee, but the number of entries in this quarterly contest are sure to be high. Compare that to The Colorado Gold Writing Contest (#3) – 4,000 word-count limit, $30 fee – where speculative fiction is one of six categories, but only 200 entries are accepted for the entire contest. Chances are much better to place in this smaller, lesser known, contest.
You decide if you’re ready to enter writing competitions, but jumping in is one of the best ways to get wet. Hurry though – half of these contest deadlines are looming in the next few weeks. Good luck!
1. Albedo One, Ireland’s Magazine of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror, announces the 10th International Aeon Award Short Fiction Contest. 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. Grand prize: €1000; second prize: €200; third prize: €100, plus place winners are published in Albedo One. Word count: up to 10,000. Entry fee: €7.50. Current quarterly deadline: June 30. Contest guidelines.
2. British Fantasy Society Short Story Competition accepts 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. 1st prize: £100. 2nd prize: £50. 3rd prize: £20. First and second place receive a year’s BFS membership. All place winners will be published in the BFS Journal. Word count: up to 5,000. Entry fee: Nonmembers pay £5. Deadline: June 30. Contest guidelines.
3. The Colorado Gold Writing Contest, for emerging writers, is in its thirtieth year. For unpublished writers of novel-length fiction (self-published and vanity press published novels are eligible). Speculative Fiction is one of six categories. Each category has five finalists: 1st place: $150; 2nd place: $100; 3rd place: $75; 2 remaining finalists: $30. Finalists have a chance to improve their submission before going on to the final round. The contest is limited to the first 200 entries received. Word count: first 4000 words, plus 750-word synopsis. Entry fee: $30. Critique option: add $25. Deadline: June 1. Contest guidelines.
4. The 2015 Driftless Unsolicited Novella Contest seeks novellas in any genre on the theme “Over” which may be broadly interpreted by the author. Three winning novellas will receive a $250.00 cash prize, a publication contract, and royalties for the novella with Brain Mill Press. The cash prize is not an advance against royalties. Word count: 20,000-40,000. Entry fee: $25.00, includes a one-year membership to Brain Mill Press. Deadline: June 1. Contest guidelines.
5. 2015 Flash Fiction Contest is hosted by WOW! (Women on Writing) every three months. Open to anyone on the planet who can submit their entry in English; any style and genre; any subject matter for this quarter. 1st Place, $350 and complete publishing package from BookBaby; 2nd Place, $250; 3rd Place, $150. In addition, Place winners and seven Runners Up receive $25 Amazon Gift Certificate, entry published on WOW!, and interview in The Muffin. Ten Honorable Mentions receive $20 Amazon Gift Certificate and their name and title entry published in The Muffin. The contest is limited to the first 300 entries received. Word Count: 250-750. Entry Fee: $10. Critique option: add $10. Current quarterly deadline: May 31. Visit the contest website and download the pdf guidelines.
6. Free Fantasy Writing Contest at Inkitt. Epic Worlds: A New Adventure – take readers on an epic journey with your best fantasy stories. Submit ancient tales about dragons and griffins, or your vision of the future through a science fantasy story. 1st Place, $100, 5 printed-and-bound copies of your story with cover created by Inkitt’s designer; 2nd Place, $50; 3rd Place, $30. Word Count: any length. No entry fee. Deadline: June 3. Contest guidelines.
7. The Twenty-First Annual Garden State Speculative Fiction Writers (GSSW) Short Story Contest. This year’s theme: Adventures in a Personal Utopia. Cast away all pessimism and craft your vision of the ideal society or the perfect future. The more whimsical and humorous, the better. Make it personal; what is the perfect life to YOU; as realistic or as absurd as you want. Stories must be original and unpublished. 1st Place: $70 and publication in a future issue of S&T. 2nd and 3rd place winners receive $40 and $25, respectively. GSSW members receive a detailed, written critique. Nonmembers receive a critique for a donation of $5. Word count: up to 4000. No entry fee. Deadline: July 31. Contest guidelines.
8. Ink & Insights 2015 novel contest is split into categories: Apprentice category for new novelists and Master category for seasoned writers (plus a nonfiction category). Judges are assigned based on the genre and experience level of the manuscript. Writers compete against peers in their own personal writing level. Every entry receives personal feedback from four different judges. Read the contest guidelines and a full list of prizes. Word count: first 10,000 words of your novel. Entry fee: $35 through May 31, $40 in June.
|Apprentice prizes include 4 writing resources and Writer’s Market 2015, plus:
1st Place: $600, page-by-page critique
2nd Place: $350, scene analysis
3rd Place: $250, beta read and evaluation
|Master prizes include an agent round and Writer’s Market 2015, plus:
1st Place: $350, full edit/critique
2nd Place: $200, proofread
3rd Place: $150, beta read and evaluation
9. The International Write Fight short story contest has ten categories, three of them being speculative fiction – fantasy, horror, science fiction – with three themes in each category. 10% of the profit made from this event will go directly to Writespace, a Houston literary nonprofit that seeks to support writers and their works. 1st – 3rd place winners receive a contributor copy in paperback format, plus: 1st Place overall, $1000; 2nd Place overall, $500; 3rd Place overall, $250. Word count: up to 1,500. Entry fee: $27.37 ($25 + event site fee). Deadline: May 31. Contest guidelines.
|Fantasy Themes||Horror Themes||Science Fiction Themes|
|Group H – Hypnosis
Group O – Occult
Group T – Terminal
|Group A – Acrobatics
Group Q – Quills
Group Z – Zoo
|Group C – Castaway
Group L – Luggage
Group X – Xenophobia
10. Writers of the Future Contest. Opportunity for new and amateur writers of unpublished science fiction or fantasy short stories or novelettes. Entrants retain all publication rights. Prizes awarded every three months: $1,000, $750, $500. Quarterly first-place winners are eligible for the Annual Grand Prize of $5,000. Word count: up to 17,000. No entry fee. Current quarterly deadline: June 30. Contest guidelines.
Are you planning to enter writing contests this year?
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