To help you keep track of the available writing contest opportunities, we’ll post a list each month of the upcoming contests we’ve heard about. (If you have an upcoming writing contest that you’d like included on the list, please contact Veronica with the details.)
We also have a Writing Contests Pinterest board and a NEW Art and Illustration Contests Pinterest board, which we try to keep updated on all the contests we hear about, as long as the contest information is pinnable. (Check frequently, as some agents post writing contests on the spur of the moment with a 24-48 hour entry period, and you never know when such an opportunity might pop up.)
Please remember, not all contests are right for all people. Some of these contests have an entry fee, while others do not. Some are judged by professional authors/illustrators, agents or editors, while others are smaller contests run by bloggers. I’ve tried to include as many contests as I can find, to give you a wide range of choices, but inclusion on this list does not necessarily constitute endorsement of the contest by Sub It Club. Make sure to do your own research on each contest before deciding whether or not to throw your entry into the ring! (Please read all rules before entering any contest!)
Also, it goes without saying (but I’ll say it anyway): DO NOT enter ANY contests unless your manuscript is fully finished and query-ready. (There are a few contests that pop up from time to time for unfinished manuscripts, but if the rules don’t specify that the contest is for unfinished manuscripts, please assume that it’s for query-ready manuscripts only!) If an agent requests a full manuscript, and you don’t have one to send, it’s disappointing for both of you.
11/30: 2013 YA Discovery Contest by Serendipity Literary Agency – Submit the first 250 words of your manuscript (no pitch or query). YA literary agent Regina Brooks and her team will read all of the entries and determine the top 20 submissions. These submissions will then be read by Deidre Jones (Little Brown), Nicole Raymond (Candlewick), Aubrey Poole (Sourcebooks), Kendra Levin (Viking Penguin), Mercedes Fernandez (Kensington), Annie Nybo (Simon and Schuster), Erica Finkel (Abrams Books), Monica Jean (Random House/Penguin), Catherine Laudone (Simon and Schuster), Stacey Friedberg (Penguin Group), Laura Whitaker (Bloomsbury), Anna Roberts (Feiwel and Friends).
11/30: Hackney Literary Awards for Short Stories and Poetry – The Hackney Literary Awards, sponsored by the Cecil Hackney family of Birmingham, Alabama, was established in 1969. The annual competition awards $5,000 in prizes for poetry and short fiction ($2,500 national and $2,500 state levels: 1st place, $600; 2nd, $400; 3rd, $250) Short Story: Length not to exceed 5,000 words per story. Poetry: Length not to exceed 50 lines per entry. (More than one poem may be submitted, but all poems together must not exceed the 50-line limit per entry.) Entry fee is $20.00 per short story entry or $15.00 per poetry entry.
12/1: Operation Awesome Mystery Editor Contest – Contest Basics: 50 entries, with one-line pitch and first 250 words. M.E. (Mystery Editor) is currently seeking Young Adult, New Adult, and Adult contemporary romance. Not currently interested in YA paranormal. Grand prize winner gets a 10-page critique, and M.E. will request at least 2 full manuscripts for consideration. The contest opens on December 1st at 10am Eastern Standard Time.
12/2: Pitch Wars (hosted by Brenda Drake)- Authors submit their applications to the Mentors they’ve chosen! (Sub It Club’s Veronica Bartles is one of the Mentors for Middle Grade manuscripts this year!)
12/3: Baker’s Dozen Auction – Agents will bid on the manuscripts that made it into the auction, for a chance to read pages!
12/7: Story Share Contest – Write a high-interest story at the third to fourth grade reading level & enter via the form on the site. Large cash prizes, but be aware that you’re giving your rights for this story to them when you upload to the site, whether you win or lose.
12/11: Pitch Wars (hosted by Brenda Drake) – Mentors announce their selections for their teams.
12/13: PitchMAS Pitch Honing Workshop – Polish up your pitches for PitchMAS! Submit your pitches to the comments section of the Workshop Blog Post (which will be posted on December 13th) and then provide feedback to other contest hopefuls as well. (This is not a contest. It’s a workshop to help you prepare for the contest!)
12/15-16: PitchMAS Submission Window Opens – Submit your 35-word pitches via email only. Submission window will be open from Sunday 12/15/13 at 9:00am PST until Monday 12/16/13 at 6:00pm PST.
12/19: PitchMAS – Top 75 pitches will go live on the PitchMAS blog for agents and editors to make requests.
12/20: PitchMAS Twitter Pitch Party – Submit your 140-character pitch, including the hashtag #PitchMAS via twitter for agents and editors to see. ANYONE can participate, even if you didn’t make it into the 75 selected blog pitches. However, your manuscript MUST BE COMPLETED and POLISHED.
12/31: Dark Crystal Author Quest Contest Deadline: This isn’t so much a contest as it is an open audition to try out for the Work-for-Hire Dark Crystal prequel novel. Send in 7,500-10,000 words that represent the story you would tell in a full-length Dark Crystal novel. It can either be the first chapters, final chapters, a collection of middle chapters, or a short piece that would form the inspiration for a novel-length story.
12/31: Blue Mountain Arts Biannual Poetry Card Contest – Poems can be rhyming or non-rhyming, and are judged on the basis of originality and uniqueness. Enter as often as you’d like. Winning poems will be displayed on the Blue Mountain Arts website.
1/1/14 – 1/31/14: Highlights Fiction Contest – Short stories up to 800 words. No crime, violence, or derogatory humor. Manuscripts or envelopes should be clearly marked FICTION CONTEST. Those not marked in this way will be considered as regular submissions to Highlights. (Entrants must be at least 16 years old at the time of submission.)
1/8/14: Pitch Wars Twitter Pitch Party: Tweet your 140-character pitch, including the hashtag #PitMad, between 8am and 8pm EST. (If you are a contestant in Pitch Wars, please do not pitch your ms during this Twitter Pitch Party!) Open to all genres & categories.
1/31/14: International Illustrated Silent Book Contest – For illustrators only! The 2014 SILENT BOOK CONTEST will give prize money and publication to an original illustrated and unpublished book project that has been created and produced exclusively through narration by illustrated images. The winner will receive a cash prize and publishing contract for their book.
2/21/14: Pacific Northwest Writers Association Literary Contest – All entries must be ORIGINAL and NOT previously accepted for publication or production by contest deadline. An author may enter separate works in (any of the 12) different categories, but only one entry per category. There is an entry fee for this contest!
4/1/14 – 4/31/14: SCBWI Work-In-Progress Grants – Seven Grants of $2,000 will be awarded annually, one in each category. Seven Runner-Up Grants of $500 will also be awarded, one in each category. Authors of other projects cited by the judges as noteworthy will receive a Letter of Merit. Categories include: Picture Book Text (Barbara Karlin Grant), General Fiction, Contemporary young adult novel, Multi-cultural fiction, and Nonfiction research . You must be a member of SCBWI to apply.
March 2014: NAESP Foundation National Children’s Book of the Year Contest – I don’t think the information is posted yet for 2014, but you can check out the details for 2013’s contest at the link above. Open to Picture Books & Chapter Books Only. (There is an entry fee for this contest.)
4/15/14 – 8/15/14: Pockets Magazine Fiction Contest – Stories should be 750–1,000 words. (Stories shorter than 750 words or longer than 1,000 words will be disqualified.) From the Pockets website: “Our primary interest is in stories that can help children deal with real-life situations. We do not accept stories about talking animals or inanimate objects. Fictional characters and some elaboration may be included in scripture stories, but the writer must remain faithful to the story.”
9/30/14: Hackney Literary Awards for Novels – The Hackney Literary Awards, sponsored by the Cecil Hackney family of Birmingham, Alabama, was established in 1969. A $5,000 prize is sponsored by the Morris Hackney family for an unpublished novel. Length is open but the novel must be unpublished. Publication rights revert to winner. (Entry fee: $30.00 per entry.)
*A big THANK YOU to Meredith’s Musings for your awesome “Contest Circuit” page, which got me thinking about adding this page to the Sub It Club blog in the first place! ❤
Hi Veronica…thanks for a wonderful list of upcoming writing contests and opportunities. I really appreciate it and will try to start off the year in a more organized fashion…thanks to you!
I’m so glad the list is helpful! ❤