- Books, Literature, and Writing
As indie authors or small press authors responsible for our own marketing, awards are one way to get attention and also prestige. With accusations of self published books not being up to snuff, winning an award for the book can show that the writing has been approved by someone with authority.
Also, short story contests and contests for pieces of books can get us some attention and keep us going forward.
Some are still interested in getting the attention of an agent or a traditional publisher, and winning short story contests is a time-honored way to do that.
You will find all those things on this page.
Contests for published novels, for unpublished novels, and for short stories.
Image from Solana at Flickr
- Be a Better Writer
Also check this website for contests listed by month deadline
- Briar Cliff Review / Deadline= November 1st / Short Story, 6,000 word max / Entry fee: $20
- John Steinbeck Award / Deadline= November 1st / Short Story, 6,000 word max / Entry fee: $15
- MVP Competition / Deadline= November 1st / Book length, unpublished, up to 400 pages / Entry fee: $20
- Roanoke Review Deadline= November 8th / Short story, 5,000 word max / Entry fee: $15
- Winter Anthology / Deadline= November 15 / Up to 50 pages to be included in anthology / Entry fee: $11
- Labda Literary LGBT Awards / Deadline= December 1st / Debut books of fiction by gay and lesbian writers published in the current year / Entry fee: $35
- Black Caucus of the American Library Association / Deadline= December 16 / A prize for a first novel and a prize for a book of fiction written by an African American and published in the United States during the current year (self-pubbed accepted is unclear) / Entry fee: none?
- H.E. Bates / Deadline: December 1 / Short story contest (UK based) 2,000 word max / Entry fee: 4 pounds (sorry, I'm an American author and don't know how to put in the pound symbol!)
- Warren Adler / Deadline= January 15 / Short story, 2,500 words max / Entry fee: $15
- James Fenimore Cooper Prize / Deadline= January 31 / Published novel related to American history (unclear if self-pubbed books accepted) / Entry fee: none
- William Saroyan International Prize / Deadline= January 31 / Published books from the previous year / Entry fee: $50
- Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize / Deadline= January 30 / Short story, 12 page max / Entry fee: $25
- Iowa Review / Deadline= January 31 / Short story, up to 10 pages / Entry fee: $20
- Ohio State Press / Deadline= January 31 / Collection of short fiction, 150-300 pages / Entry fee: $20
- Warren Adler Short Story Contest/ Deadline= January 15 / 2,500 word short story / Entry fee: $15
Books about Contests
Advice for winning, and other places to find contests...
Contests for Published Novels
"Award Winning" - That's what we want to be able to say about our novels
These are contests for already published books. Unfortunately a lot of the prestigious awards don't accept indie books (and POD service used to create the book makes it ineligible). Awards are cropping up specifically for self published books, but to me it's unfortunate that we can't play with the regular books! The next section will have the contests that are not specifically for self published books.
I won an honorable mention at the 17th Writer's Digest Self Published Book Award in 2009. However, I'm not sure that I really want to brag about an award that has "self published" in the title. I'm not sure about announcing to the reading public that my book was self published.
On the other hand, if you win then it shows that even though your book was self published, it has been approved by professionals.
IMPORTANT: MANY TIMES YOUR BOOK WILL ONLY BE ELIGIBLE TO PARTICIPATE IN THE YEAR IT WAS PUBLISHED, SO YOU NEED TO READ UP AND PREP AHEAD OF TIME FOR THESE. ALSO, MOST REQUIRE A PHYSICAL COPY OF THE BOOK TO BE SENT IN (SOMETIMES MORE THAN ONE), SO YOU MUST HAVE A PRINTER OF SOME TYPE TO ENTER
- Writer's Digest Self Published Book Awards
For this past year here were the prizes: ONE GRAND PRIZE WINNER will be awarded $3,000 cash and a trip to the Writer's Digest Conference in New York City. The editors of Writer'sDigest will endorse and submit 10 copies of the Grand Prize-Winning book
- Indie Book Awards
"The 2012 Next Generation Indie Book Awards is open to all indie book authors and publishers including independent publishers (small, medium or otherwise), university presses, self-published authors, e-book authors, seasoned authors and even first ti
- National Indie Excellence Awards
Requires a physical copy of your book. (Last year, the books were donated to libraries after the judging, so that's really cool exposure for your book!) Entry fee: $69/entry Many, many categories to submit in. From the site: As a winner or finalis
- Independent Publisher Book Awards
Known as the IPPY awards, they've been running for several years, and this year they have added a category for eBooks. Entry fees are done by date, advantage to submitting early: Final entry deadline March 15, 2012 $75 per title per category until O
- Amazon Breakout Novelist Award
I heard a rumor that this contest might not be running again, but I'm not sure about that. It is a great idea. Sponsored by Amazon, so it would get a lot of exposure and legitimacy for the winners. The quarter final round is judged by Publisher's We
- Eric Hoffer Award
Very unusually, this award has a "legacy" category that allows you to submit a book you published more than two years ago. What a great way to try to get more awards for our older books (like mine that was published in 2009) Entry fee: $50 From the
- Indie Book Event
I don't know if this one will be running again in 2012. This is a short article about the 2011 winner.
Contests for books both indie and traditionally published
- Los Angeles Book Festival
For all types of books, indie or big publisher. (Remember that means you'd be competing against the best of traditionally published books). The entry fee is $50 From the website: Our grand prize for the 2011 Los Angeles Book Festival is $1500 cash
- DragonFly Award
A contest specifically for ebooks! You submit your entry by PDF. I can't tell, but it seems to be geared towards indie, though not specifically saying that in the title. Entry fee is $50 for first entry. From the site: Grand prize: One winner will
- Reader's Favorite
This contest accepts fiction, non fiction and all different kinds of formats, as well as published and non-published. Certainly a lot of variety. Work must meet their formatting guidelines, however. Entry fee is $85 From the site: Winners will be
- Global EBook Awards
Specifically for eBooks, but can be either self published or traditionally published. Entry fee: 1-3 entries are $59 each From the site: What authors/publishers get for submitting their eBooks: Entry into the awards contest. Feedback from judges
- USA Book News
Many different categories to enter. I won an honorable mention in the romance category in 2009. Currently the contest is in its off season, so I'm having trouble getting the entry fee information.
Most of the awards have a number of different genres and you pick which one your book will compete in. Some contests are geared towards only one particular genre.
- Arthur C Clark Award for Science Fiction
Website is under construction right now.
- Romance Writers of America
RITA awards. Open to members and non-members, but non-members pay a higher entry fee. I'm not certain that they accept books published by POD service, will need to check on this. Stops accepting submissions when it reaches a certain number, so worth
- Charlotte Dillon
List of Romance contests for both unpublished and published authors, most only open to RWA members
- William C. Morris YA Debut Award
For a debut Young Adult book.
More awards from the Young Adult Library Services Association , a long list
Not exactly a genre, but this is a contest for "faith-driven work," specifically Christian-themed. There are several categories to choose from, like general fiction, romance, speculative, etc. It is run by book bloggers
- Bards and Sages Novella Contest
Each year, Bards and Sages sponsors a speculative fiction writing contest to benefit charity. *Open to speculative fiction stories (horror, fantasy, science fiction, etc) of up to 20,000 words. MUST be unpublished work.
For Young Adult and children's books. "Make sure you nominate your book between Oct. 1-15. We'll be in touch to get a review copy or two from you."
- Publishing Triangle
From the site: "THE EDMUND WHITE AWARD FOR DEBUT FICTION: Established in 2006, the Edmund White Award for Debut Fiction recognizes outstanding first novels or story collections by LGBT authors. Authors may have appeared in anthologies or journals b
- Lambda Litereary
Many awards for books on LBGT themes.
Contests for Unpublished Novels
These contests are for book length manuscripts and usually publication is part of the prize.
- AWP Writer Awards
Entry Fee: $30 for nonmembers and $15 for members From the site: Winners in the novel and creative nonfiction categories receive a $2,500 cash honorarium from AWP and publication. The Award Series conducts an evaluation process of writers, for write
- Gival Press
Click on contests on the left and novel award. Prize is publication.
- Bellwether Prize
I have always wanted to submit to this one! However, you must have previous publications (short stories) to enter. From the site: "The Bellwether Prize, which was established in 2000 by Barbara Kingsolver and is funded entirely by her, was created t
- Fred Bonnie Memorial Award
River City Publishing award for a first novel, prize is publication
- American Christian Fiction Writers
"The Genesis Contest is the ACFW contest for unpublished Christian writers. Genesis has a number of categories/genres to enter, the opportunity for unbiased feedback on writers' work by published authors and experienced judges, and the chance for the
Contests for Unpublished Short Stories
Someone Might Take Notice - These awards are extremely prestigious
Awards for short fiction that will most likely get the attention of agents and editors. These tend to focus on literary genre pieces.
Short Story Contests
Something a little different...
- Book Bundlz
This is a website designed to help book clubs find reads. There is a contest to try to get your book picked as a recommended book club book. Current round is closed, but I hope they will be doing this again! It's a new site, so it's not clear if the
- 3 Day Novel Contest
This came before NaNoWriMo, it's a contest to write a complete book over Labor Day Weekend! First prize is publication.
Awards for Pieces of Books
These contests allow you to submit outlines, synopses, first chapters, etc. It can get you some confidence in your work, and sometimes the prizes include publication or consultations with agents.
(The one contest that I knew that did awards for a synopsis has closed)
- Next Big Writer
Contest to judge the strongest first three chapters of a novel. You need to be a member of The Next Big Writer to enter and there is a fee for that membership. From the site: The Awards Main Competition Winner One Total Design Freedom Freedom Esse
- The Write Helper
Contest for first chapter of a novel, 6000 words or less. A free critique is optional with entry. Entry fee is currently $10. Must be an unpublished piece. Prizes: 1st Place $150 2nd Place $75 3rd Place $50
- Writer's Type
"This competition is limited to the first chapter of completed, but unpublished, novels of any genre. Please do not submit chapters from elsewhere in your novel. However, you may include a brief prologue as part of your first chapter. This competitio
Fellowships and Grants - Money to allow you to write
These are lists of grants and fellowships that you can apply for. Generally they give money or space at a writer's retreat and the requirement is that you work on a particular project.
- Funds for Writers
A long list of grants, most of which are region specific
- Wisconsin Creative Writing Fellowship
"For over twenty years, the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing has welcomed poets and fiction writers to Madison, where they spend an academic year working on a first creative book and teaching one creative writing class each semester. The Inst
- National Endowment of the Arts Literature Fellowships program
In alternating years they fund literature and poetry. From the site: The NEA Literature Fellowships program offers $25,000 grants in prose (fiction and creative nonfiction) and poetry to published creative writers that enable the recipients to set a
- Bard Fiction Prize
From the site: "The Bard Fiction Prize is awarded to a promising, emerging writer who is an American citizen aged 39 years or younger at the time of application. In addition to the monetary award, the winner receives an appointment as writer in resi
Other People's Lists - Some long lists of contests that I found on people's sites
- Poets and Writers Database
Contests, grants, etc. from one of the most respected magazines in the industry
- Stephanie Smith
An incredible resource of contests in a spreadsheet, focus on romance.
- No Fee Novel Contests
Compiled by C. Hope Clark for Writer's Weekly
- In Reference to Murder
Mostly for detective, mystery, and crime, though some are more general
- Bauu Institute
"Complete List of Book Awards for Authors, Writers, and Publishers"
- Self Publishing Review
A short list of contests along with an essay about the experience of winning one.
- Sci Fi Awards Watch
A list of awards for science fiction books
Warnings - Websites that warn about contest scams
- Writer Beware Blog
Good essays and information about fishy contests and POD services
- Writing-World: When Winners are Losers
Things to watch our for when considering entering a contest
- About.com Writing Scams
Their first criteria is to avoid entry fees and I disagree on that one. It's worth paying attention to how steep the fee is, whether it makes sense given the size of the prizes and if it's associated with a well-known entity. Free contests can be sc
- Winning Writers
A list of companies and contests they recommend you avoid (probably focused on poetry, as this is mainly a poetry site)
- Sarah Turner: avoid writing contest scams
Tips that a contest might be a scam