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Fiction Writing Contests Worth Your Time (Spring 2018)

What are your submission or rejection goals for 2018? Inspired by Lit Hub’s 100 rejections per year [1] post, I got 93 rejections 2017 and aim to cross 100 this year. I plan to include literary agent rejections in this year’s tally, which should incentivize me to query more. Since my last contest roundup [2], I’ve earned two more acceptances. The journey to publication for my latest flash fiction, “Rivet Here”—including full rejection letters—is available on my blog [3].

This submissions season covers fiction contests with deadlines between March 1, 2018 and May 31, 2018. March is absolutely stacked with deadlines; so no excuses about not submitting! Thanks to Literistic [4], Poets & Writers [5], Submittable Discover [6], and New Pages [7] for many of these contests.

Much like editors are looking for reasons to reject work, I want to focus on opportunities worth my time. Thus, my list of writing contests below includes reasons to submit to that particular writing contest. May you find a promising opportunity among this list and spend less time searching for where to send your exceptional work.


March 2018

Women’s National Book Association – WNBA Writing Contest 2018 – $15-$20 fee [8]

Deadline: March 1, 2018

$250 cash prizes for the winner in each category and publication in The Bookwoman. A new category is available this year – Young Adult Fiction. Up to 3,000 words in fiction or YA, no other theme restrictions. Simultaneous submissions are acceptable. Previously published work accepted. International submissions are welcome if they are able to accept the winning prize in US dollars. You may submit more than one entry, but each entry requires a fee and a separate entry. The winner will be announced May 15, 2018 and the winning entry published in Bookwoman, the official publication of the Women’s National Book Association. WNBA Members get discounted submission fee.

Regina Marler will judge the fiction submissions. Tanya Egan Gibson will judge the Young Adult fiction submissions.

Reasons to submit:

Stella Kupferberg Memorial Short Story Prize – $25 fee [9]

Deadline: March 1, 2018

The Stella Kupferberg Memorial Short Story Prize is a writing competition sponsored by the stage and radio series Selected Shorts. This long-running series at Symphony Space in New York City celebrates the art of the short story by having stars of stage and screen read aloud the works of established and emerging writers. Selected Shorts is recorded for Public Radio and heard nationally. Entires should be 750 words or less. Stories can be on any theme. Writers of all ages and nationalities are eligible.

The 2018 Stella Kupferberg Memorial Short Story Prize will be judged by Jess Walter, author of Beautiful Ruins. The winning work will be performed and recorded live at a Selected Shorts performance at Symphony Space on June 6, 2018, and published on Electric Literature. The winning writer will receive $1000 and a free 10-week course with Gotham Writers. The winner will be announced in May 2018.

Reasons to submit:

Sonora Review – 2018 Contest: The Future – $15 fee [10]

Deadline: March 1, 2018

Each year, $1,000 each and publication in Sonora Review is awarded to a short story. For our 2018 contest, whose theme is The Future, the fiction judge is Charles Yu. You may submit up to 6,000 words of fiction. All entries are considered for publication in our themed issue, The Future.

Reasons to submit:

RBC Bronwen Wallace Award for Emerging Writers – $0 fee [12]

Deadline: March 5, 2018

A prize of $10,000 will be awarded to the best work of short fiction. Two honourable mentions will each receive $2,500. Each finalist will win a mentorship opportunity and a trip to Toronto to attend the award ceremony on May 28, 2018.

To be eligible, a writer must be:

Candidates should submit 5-10 pages (up to 2,500 words) of unpublished short fiction.

Reasons to submit:

Joyland – Open Border Fiction Prize – $6 fee [13]

Deadline: March 9, 2018

Judged by Rachel Khong. This prize is open to any author writing in the English language, no matter their country of residence. One entry per author and the story must be a previously unpublished work of fiction, between 1900 and 6000 words in length. The winning entry will receive $1000 (US) and be published on Joyland. Two runner-up stories will also be published. Winners will be announced in April 2018.

Reasons to submit:

Stockholm Writers Festival – First Pages Prize – $0-$25 fee [14]

Deadline: March 13, 2018

The First Pages Prize is designed to recognize and support the work-in-progress of unagented writers and offers prize packages to help one winner and four runners-up develop and finish their fiction manuscript. Five prizes including cash $200-$700 USD, developmental edits, and a meeting with agents/editors during the 2018 Stockholm Writers Festival. Entries must not exceed the first five (5) pages or 1,250 words.

Reasons to submit:

The Missouri Review – Miller Audio Prize – $10-$30 fee [15]

Deadline: March 15, 2018

$1,000 per category: prose, humor, audio documentary. You choose what you pay from $10+. Your entry fee includes a one-year digital subscription to the Missouri Review, which normally costs $24. All entries must be 15 minutes or shorter. Previous first-place winners are not eligible to win again. Previously published or aired pieces are acceptable as long as you, the entrant, hold the rights.

Reasons to submit:

The Pinch – The 2018 Pinch Literary Awards – $20 fee [16]

Deadline: March 15, 2018

1st Place in fiction receives $1000. Fiction judged by Carmen Maria Machado. Up to 5000 words. All entries are considered for publication. First, second, and third place winners will be selected from each category. The first place winners will be published in a Pinch issue following announcement. Second and third place winners will be given high-priority consideration for publication, but because of space, cannot be guaranteed. Due to the high volume of submissions, any prize-winners will be ineligible for contest participation for three years. The author’s name should NOT appear anywhere in the uploaded contest entry document. $20 for first story and $10 for each subsequent story.

Reasons to submit:

Bellingham Review – The Tobias Wolff Award for Fiction – $20 fee [17]

Deadline: March 15, 2018

The cost to enter is $20. International entries are $30 to cover increased shipping costs.

Enter one story or up to three pieces of flash. Please limit prose to 6,000 words. For prose that is 1,500 words or fewer, submit up to three in one entry. (These flash prose pieces will be considered individually, unless they are connected.) Everyone who enters the competition will receive a copy of Issue 76. All manuscripts will be read blindly; readers and editors will not see a contestant’s name or cover letter.

Reasons to submit:

Hidden River Arts – Eludia Award – $22 fee [18]

Deadline: March 15, 2018

Hidden River Arts offers the Eludia Award, for a first book-length unpublished novel or collection of stories. The prize is open to women writers age 40 and older, who do not yet have a book-length publication of fiction. (Book length publications in other genres are fine. Self-publishing IS publishing, and will disqualify the fiction manuscript.) The winning manuscript will be published on our imprint, Sowilo Press, and will receive $1000 plus ten copies of the book. This competition is open to international submissions for all writers in English, and we encourage submissions from our international community of women writers.

Reasons to submit:

James Jones First Novel Fellowship – $30 fee [19]

Deadline: March 15, 2018

A prize of $10,000 is given annually for a novel-in-progress by a U.S. writer who has not published a novel. Runners-up will receive $1000. A selection from the winning work is published in Provincetown Arts. A two-page (maximum) outline or synopsis of the entire novel and the first 50 pages of the novel-in-progress are to be submitted. A specific format for the outline or synopsis is not required. The winner will be notified in September 2018.

Reasons to submit:

Martha’s Vineyard Institute of Creative Writing – Voices of Color Fellowships – $25 fee [20]

Deadline: March 20, 2018

We are proud to announce the 2018 Voices of Color Fellowships. MVICW is committed to expanding the American literary canon and to increasing philanthropic support in the arts for aspiring poets and writers of color. These fellowships were created to promote voices from a wide array of cultural backgrounds, and to help counter the inequities faced by writers of color. Application for these fellowships is open to all writers of color, ages 18 and older. The awards provide funding to attend a week of choice at the Martha’s Vineyard Institute of Creative Writing. Two First Prize recipients (one in poetry and one in fiction) will receive the full retreat package, covering tuition and lodging. Two Second Prize recipients (one in each genre) will receive $500 credit toward the cost of tuition. Submit your best short fiction, novel excerpt, or creative non-fiction piece (up to 3000 words) and a letter of interest.

Reasons to submit:

Enizagam – Fiction Contest – $20 fee [21]

Deadline: March 23, 2018

Fiction submissions should consist of one short story up to 4,000 words long. Entries may be in any literary style, and address any subject, as long as they hook the reader by the eyes and do not let go. We do not publish novel excerpts. Submissions should include a brief cover letter including the author’s name. Please expect a response within 4 weeks of the deadline. Winner will receive $1000 and will be nominated for the annual Pushcart Prize.

Reasons to submit:

Arts & Letters – Arts & Letters Fiction Prize – $20 fee [22]

Deadline: March 31, 2018

We offer the winner a $1,000 prize and publication in the next year’s Fall or Spring issue. All submitters receive a digital subscription of Arts & Letters, which will include the issue prize winners are published in. Submit prose manuscripts up to 25 pages, typed, double-spaced. Please do not include your name on the uploaded file. All submissions will be considered for publication at regular payment rates. Fiction judged by Melissa Pritchard.

Reasons to submit:


April 2018

New Ohio Review – 2018 Contest – $20 fee [23]

Deadline: April 15, 2018

$1,000 Prize and publication in New Ohio Review 24. Mary Gaitskill judging in fiction. We accept literary submissions in any genre. Submit up to 20 double-spaced pages of prose. Contest entries are judged blind, so please include your name in your cover letter only. No names should appear on contest manuscripts. Past contest winners may not enter again. Stories that are not selected will still be considered for publication. Entry fee comes with 1-year subscription (issues 24 and 25).

Reasons to submit:

The Writer’s Center – First Novel Prize – $0 fee [24]

Deadline: April 15, 2018

Each year, The Writer’s Center awards $1,000 to the author of an exceptional first novel published in the previous calendar year. All first novels published in print in 2017 are eligible, including those published by major and independent presses. Only American authors publishing in English are eligible. Non-eligible books include: short story collections, flash fiction, memoirs, biographies, and books published solely in electronic format. The winner will receive $1,000 and will be featured in The Writer’s Guide and our blog, First Person Plural. In addition, if feasible, they will be invited to read at The Writer’s Center during a reception to honor their work.

Reasons to submit:

American Literary Translators Association – Italian Prose in Translation Award – $0 fee [25]

Deadline: April 16, 2018

The Italian Prose in Translation Award (IPTA), which was inaugurated in 2015, recognizes the importance of contemporary Italian prose (fiction and literary non-fiction) and promotes the translation of Italian works into English. This $5,000 prize will be awarded annually to a translator of a recent work of Italian prose (fiction or literary non-fiction). The winning translators and books are featured at the annual ALTA conference. Books of fiction or literary non-fiction translated from Italian into English and published in English in the previous calendar year are eligible. Both translators and publishers are invited to submit titles. No fee.

Reasons to submit:

The Pen Parentis Writing Fellowship For New Parents – $15 fee [26]

Deadline: April 17, 2018

Awarded annually since 2010, this Fellowship is intended to incentivize writers to produce new works of quality fiction at the very busiest point in their parenting journey. In addition to a full year of promotion and the publication of the winning story by Brain, Child Magazine, a $1000 prize will be presented to the new Pen Parentis Writing Fellow at a public reading of the winning work at our September Salon Season Opener in Manhattan. Entrants must be the parent of at least one child under 10 years of age, but there are no style or genre limitations on the works of fiction submitted for consideration. Entrants can be at any level of their literary careers.

Reasons to submit:

The Ghost Story Supernatural Fiction Award – $20 fee [27]

Deadline: April 30, 2018

Twice each year TGS awards $1,000 and both online and print publication to the winner of our short story competition. Two other writers receive Honorable Mention and Second Honorable Mention awards that include publication and cash prizes of $250 and $100 respectively. In addition, Winners and Honorable Mentions will be included in our paperbound anthology, 21st Century Ghost Stories—Volume II. Online publication for each story includes a custom illustration by British folk-horror artist Andy Paciorek!

Our competition typically draws around 200 submissions from all around the world. Winners have included writers with a long history of publishing their work and/or winning awards, as well as writers who have never before published a story. Ghost stories are welcome, of course—but your submission may involve any paranormal or supernatural theme, as well as magic realism. From 1,500 to 10,000 words. $20 entry fee per story.

Reasons to submit:

Nimrod International Journal – Nimrod Literary Awards – $23 fee [28]

Deadline: April 30, 2018

First Prize: $2,000 and publication; Second Prize: $1,000 and publication. In addition to publication and the prize moneys, winners will also be brought to Tulsa for the Awards Ceremony in October 2018. All finalists will be considered for publication. 7,500 words maximum (one short story or a self-contained excerpt from a novel). No previously published works or works accepted for publication elsewhere. Author’s name must not appear on the manuscript. Submitters must be living in the US by October of 2018 to enter the contest.

Reasons to submit:

Martha’s Vineyard Institute of Creative Writing – Parent-Writer Fellowships – $25 fee [20]

Deadline: April 21, 2018

Writers who are also parents have increased difficulties in making time for their writing. Our Parent-Writer Fellowships are intended to give parents both the time and financial support to devote a week to themselves and their writing at MVICW. These fellowships offer funding to attend a week of choice at the Martha’s Vineyard Institute of Creative Writing. The fellowships are open to anyone who has a child age 16 or younger living with them. Two recipients (one in poetry and one in fiction) will receive the full retreat package, covering tuition and lodging. Two runners-up (one in each genre) will receive $500 credit toward the cost of tuition. Submit your best short fiction, novel excerpt, or creative non-fiction piece (up to 3000 words) and a letter of interest.

Reasons to submit:


May 2018

William Faulkner – William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition – $10-$45 fee [29]

Deadline: May 1, 2018

The competition is for previously unpublished work only. Entries are accepted now in categories such as: Novel, Novella, Novel-in-Progress, Short Story, and Short Story by a High School Student. Overall goals of the competition are to seek out new, talented writers and assist them in finding literary agents and, ultimately, publishers for their work.

Reasons to submit:

Ploughshares – Emerging Writer’s Contest – $24 fee [30]

Deadline: May 15, 2018

The Emerging Writer’s Contest is open to writers of fiction who have yet to publish or self-publish a book. The winner will be awarded $2,000. Carmen Maria Machado will judge in fiction. Cover letters are not necessary. All identifying information will be removed from submissions. Up to 6,000 words.

Reasons to submit:

Carve – The Raymond Carver Short Story Contest – $17 fee [31]

Deadline: May 15, 2018

Featuring prominent guest judges and offering $2500 across five prizes, the contest delivers exciting new fiction from writers all over the world. The contest opens each year April 1 – May 15 and prizewinners are published in our annual fall issue in October.

Reasons to submit:

Crook’s Corner Book Prize – $35 fee [32]

Deadline: May 15, 2018

The Crook’s Corner Book Prize is awarded for the best debut novel set in the American South. The Prize is intended to encourage emerging writers, whether published by established publishing houses, by small independent publishers, or self-published. The winner of the Crook’s Corner Book Prize receives $5,000 and a free glass of wine at Crook’s Corner every day for a year.

The submitted book must be the author’s first published novel for adult readers, published in the United States between January 1, 2017 and May 15, 2018. Regardless of the author’s residence, the book must be set predominantly in the American South, which includes the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia. Books that are available only as e-books are not eligible.

Reasons to submit:

Del Sol Press – First Novel Competition – $30 fee [33]

Deadline: May 15, 2018

Del Sol Press seeks to publish exceptional work by both new and recognized writers. Our emphasis is on original, unique, and accessible work with an edge. We are only interested in the very best work, regardless of source or type. The 2018 competition invites submissions of literary and upmarket fiction, general fiction, serious women’s fiction, SFF with a literary edge or fiction with a catalytic speculative element, e.g., “Time Traveler’s Wife,” as well as mystery, crime, or suspense fiction. A prize of $1,500, publication by Del Sol Press, and 20 author copies is given annually for a first novel. Pulitzer winner Robert Olen Butler will judge.

Reasons to submit:


Have I missed a great writing contest? Please leave a comment and let me know where you found it.

Happy submitting!

About Arthur Klepchukov [34]

Arthur Klepchukov [35] writes literary and speculative fiction from numerous cafes and the occasional park. He completed The Lemon Tree House Residency for Writers [36] in Tuscany and was awarded Honorable Mention by Writers of the Future. Art loves hosting Shut Up & Write(!) meetups [37]. Follow his writing journey at Arsenal of Words [35] and on Twitter [38] or read his words in The Common, Necessary Fiction, and KYSO Flash.