Home / Writing / Fiction Writing Contests Worth Your Time (Winter 2017 Edition)

Fiction Writing Contests Worth Your Time (Winter 2017 Edition)

Inspired by Lit Hub’s 100 rejections per year post, my goal was to make at least 50 submissions in 2017. Since my last contest roundup, I’m at 108 submissions and 79 rejections. I’m also delighted to share that I’ve earned my first acceptance for publication in fiction and nonfiction. It’s nowhere near New Year’s but I’m already breaking down my next series of writing goals.

This submissions season is stacked with late December and early January deadlines. Here’s a chance to get started on your New Year’s Resolutions early. I found great opportunities for flash fiction, short story collections, novellas, and novels.

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.

December 2017

David J. Langum, Sr. Prize in American Historical Fiction – $0 fee

Deadline: December 1, 2017

“A prize to encourage and reward excellent American historical fiction is a natural element in our effort to make the rich history of America accessible to the educated general reader. The David J. Langum, Sr. Prize in American Historical Fiction is offered annually to the best book in American historical fiction that is both excellent fiction and excellent history. Any press may publish the work, with the exceptions that the book may not be self-published or published by a press subsidized by the author. A prize and $1,000 honorarium is awarded to the winner each year for the best book in American historical fiction published in the preceding year.”

Reasons to submit:

  • Friendly to novelists
  • Flag-bearer—open to international submissions

Redivider – Blurred Genre Contest – $6 fee

Deadline: December 15, 2017

“Submissions for our second annual Redivider Blurred Genre Contest will open November 1 and close December 15. This contest explores the porous genre boundaries between flash fiction, flash nonfiction, and prose poetry. We also welcome other experimental forms including, but not limited to, brief drama, graphic narrative, illustrated poetry, and more. At its core, this contest aims to nurture and celebrate commonality, difference, and distinction in literature. Winners will be announced in February.” $500 prize for first place | $300 for second | $200 for third. Judged by Claudia Rankine.

Reasons to submit:

The Flexible Persona – Show Us Your Short-Shorts Editor’s Prize – $6 fee

Deadline: December 15, 2017

Submit up to three flash fiction pieces of 1,000 words each without any identifying information. “All entries considered for online publication. First, second, and third prizes will be published on the site and in the Spring 2018 issue. Winners will receive a digital copy of the issue along with the prize money upon publication.” Prizes: $125, $75, and $25. Winners notified by January 15, 2018.

Reasons to submit:

  • Blind submissions are fine submissions!
  • Share the wealth—multiple prizes
  • Fast response time—30 days
  • Flag-bearer—open to international submissions

Boulevard – Short Fiction Contest for Emerging Writers – $16 fee

Deadline: December 31, 2017

“$1,500 and publication in Boulevard awarded to the winning story by a writer who has not yet published a book of fiction, poetry, or creative non-fiction with a nationally distributed press. Entry fee is $16 for each individual story, with no limit per author, and includes a one-year subscription.” Up to 8,000 words. All entries will be considered for publication and for payment at our regular rates. Entries will be judged by the editors. Winners traditionally announced in June.

Reasons to submit:

  • Prestige—#24 in Pushcart ranking
  • Oh, wordy!—generous word count limit
  • Read on—entry fee includes one-year subscription
  • Friendly to emerging writers

Fiction Southeast – The Ernest Hemingway Flash Fiction Prize – $10 fee

Deadline: December 31, 2017

“Though many writers have helped to shape the history of flash fiction, Ernest Hemingway’s first short-story collection, In Our Time, easily makes him one of the form’s primary pioneers. For this reason, Fiction Southeast has chosen to honor his accomplishments through the Ernest Hemingway Flash Fiction Prize. Each year, a participating judge will select a winner (and three runners-up).” 1500 words or less. Multiple and simultaneous submissions welcome. All entries considered for publication. “Winner – $200 and publication in Fiction Southeast. Finalists – publication in Fiction Southeast.” Judged by David Galef. Results typically announced in late February/early March.

Reasons to submit:

  • No hunting for winners—can read past winners online
  • Oh, wordy!—generous word count limit (for flash fiction)
  • Prestigious judge

Three Percent – Best Translated Book Awards – $0 fee

Deadline: December 31, 2017

“The Best Translated Book Award was founded in 2007 (making this its eleventh iteration) to draw attention to the best works of translated literature that came out the following year. The award’s emphasis is on the quality of the book and translation, with the argument that you can’t have a great work of literature without both of these aspects working at a very high level. Any work of translation published in English for the first time ever between January 1, 2017 and December 31, 2017 is eligible for the award.” The winning author will receive $5,000; the translator or translators will receive $5,000. Submit nine copies of a translated book of fiction published in 2017.

Reasons to submit:

  • Friendly to novelists
  • Friendly to translators

Ashland Creek Press – Siskiyou Prize for New Environmental Literature – $18 fee

Deadline: December 31, 2017

“The contest is open to published or unpublished full-length prose manuscripts, including novels, memoirs, short story collections, and essay collections. Manuscripts should be approximately 40,000 to 90,000 words. … Published books eligible for the prize must have been published within the past five (5) years; books published in the year 2012 or earlier are not eligible. The winner will receive: $1,000 and a four-week residency at PLAYA.”

Reasons to submit:

  • Friendly to novelists
  • Flag-bearer—open to international submissions
  • Oh, wordy!—generous word count limit

January 2018

Mississippi Review – Mississippi Review Prize – $16 fee

Deadline: January 1, 2018

$1,000 fiction prize. “Winners and finalists will make up next summer’s print issue of the national literary magazine Mississippi Review. … Prose entries should be 1,000-8,000 words. There is no limit on the number of entries you may submit. Each entrant will receive a copy of the prize issue. … Winners will be announced in early March, and publication is scheduled for June of 2018.”

Reasons to submit:

  • Prestige—#39 in Pushcart ranking
  • Oh, wordy!—generous word count limit
  • Read on—entry fee includes prize issue

Nowhere – Fall 2017 Travel Writing Contest – $20 fee

Deadline: January 1, 2018

“We are looking for young, old, novice and veteran writers to send us stories that possess a powerful sense of place. Entries should be between eight hundred and five thousand words and must not have been previously chosen as a winner in another contest. Previously published work is accepted, but … please indicate this. Every submission will be read blind, so anyone can win.” $1,000 prize plus publication. Up to ten finalists also will be published.

Reasons to submit:

  • Blind submissions are fine submissions!
  • Friendly to emerging writers
  • No hunting for winners—can read past winners online
  • Share the wealth—multiple prizes

The Center for Fiction – Christopher Doheny Award – $0 fee

Deadline: January 2, 2018

“The Christopher Doheny Award recognizes excellence in fiction or creative nonfiction on the topic of serious physical illness. The award is presented annually for a completed manuscript that has not yet been published. It was founded in honor of Audible employee Chris Doheny, a writer himself, who was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis as a baby and passed away on February 20, 2013. The winner of the award must demonstrate both high literary standards and a broad audience appeal while exploring the impact of illness on the patient, family and friends, and others. With generous support from Audible, Inc. and the Doheny family and friends, the award includes a $10,000 prize and production and promotion of the book in an audio edition, with the option to pursue print publication with the assistance of Audible, Inc.“

Reasons to submit:

  • Friendly to novelists
  • Share the wealth—multiple prizes

Poets & Writers – Maureen Egen Writers Exchange Award – $0 fee

Deadline: January 8, 2018

$500 prize awarded to a a fiction writer from Arkansas. “Each winner also receives an all-expenses-paid trip to New York City to meet with writers, editors, publishers, and agents. … Poets and fiction writers who have published no more than one full-length book in the genre in which they are applying are eligible. … Porochista Khakpour will judge in fiction. Submit up to 25 pages of fiction by January 8, 2018.”

Reasons to submit:

  • Regional restriction—less competition
  • No hunting for winners—can read past winners online
  • Oh, wordy!—generous word count limit
  • Wanderluster—prize includes travel
  • Friendly to novelists

Virginia Commonwealth University – Cabell First Novelist Award – $0 fee

Deadline: January 14, 2018

“A prize of $5,000 is given annually for a first novel published during the previous year. The winner and the winner’s agent will also receive lodging and travel expenses to attend First Novelist Award Night at Virginia Commonwealth University in Fall 2018. A committee of novelists and critics will judge. Submit three copies of a book published in 2017 by January 14, 2018.”

Reasons to submit:

  • Wanderluster—prize includes travel
  • Friendly to novelists

The Chattahoochee Review – Lamar York Prize for Fiction – $18 fee

Deadline: January 31, 2018

$1,000.00 and publication in The Chattahoochee Review awarded to a winning story of up to 6,000 words. “All entries will be considered for publication. Submissions are judged anonymously. An entry fee of $18 (nonrefundable) includes a one-year subscription to The Chattahoochee Review beginning with the Spring issue.” Winners announced and published in Spring. Judged by Alexander Weinstein.

Reasons to submit:

  • Blind submissions are fine submissions!
  • Prestige—#100 in Pushcart ranking
  • Oh, wordy!—generous word count limit
  • Read on—entry fee includes one-year subscription
  • Prestigious judge

The Iowa Review – Iowa Review Award – $20 fee

Deadline: January 31, 2018

“We accept submissions to the Iowa Review Awards during the month of January. Winners receive $1,500; first runners-up receive $750. Winners and runners-up are published in each December issue. Submit up to 25 pages of prose. Judges will select winners from a group of finalists chosen by Iowa Review editors. All manuscripts, whether selected as finalists or not, are considered for publication.”

Reasons to submit:

  • Prestige—#14 in Pushcart ranking
  • Blind submissions are fine submissions!
  • Oh, wordy!—generous word count limit

February 2018

The Malahat Review – 2018 Novella Prize – $40 fee

Deadline: February 1, 2018

“The Malahat Review, Canada’s premier literary magazine, invites entries from Canada, the United States, and elsewhere for the Novella Prize. One prize of $1,500 CAD is awarded. Enter a single work of fiction, with a minimum length of 10,000 words and maximum length 20,000 words. No restrictions as to genre, subject matter, or aesthetic approach apply. … Entrants receive a one-year print subscription to The Malahat Review. … Entrants’ anonymity is preserved throughout the judging. …the winning novella will be published in The Malahat Review’s Summer 2018 issue.”

Reasons to submit:

  • Blind submissions are fine submissions!
  • Prestige—#114 in Pushcart ranking
  • Flag-bearer—open to international submissions
  • Oh, wordy!—generous word count limit
  • Read on—entry fee includes one-year subscription

Indiana Review – Blue Light Books prize – $20 fee

Deadline: February 9, 2018

“Indiana Review and Indiana University Press are proud to present the Blue Light Books prize, awarded on alternating years to short story and poetry collections of outstanding merit. Manuscripts should be 35,000 – 45,000 words, or approximately 140 – 180 manuscript pages. A publication contract with IU Press and a prize of $2,000 against future royalties will be awarded to the winner. The book will be published in trade paperback format. The winning Blue Light Books collection will be displayed at the following Association of Writers and Writing Programs Conference. The winner will also be flown out to read a selection of their work at the annual 2019 Blue Light Reading in beautiful Bloomington, IN.”

Reasons to submit:

Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference – Fellowship in Fiction – $15 fee

Deadline: February 15, 2018

“Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference… gathers together emerging writers to work closely with a diverse and talented faculty. For 10 days in August, conference attendees experience the intensity—and challenge—of working under the guidance of notable writers, including MacArthur Fellows, U.S. poets laureate, and recipients of the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award. Fellowships are awarded to applicants who have published their first or second book in English within the last four years in the genre in which they are applying. At Bread Loaf, fellows are assigned to a workshop where they generally are asked to assist the faculty member. Fellows give a public reading from their own work and submit a proposal for a one-hour class on some aspect of the craft of writing. Fellowships cover tuition, room, and board at the conference.”

Reasons to submit:

  • Friendly to novelists
  • Prestige—for your writing resume

Ruminate – William Van Dyke Short Story Prize – $20 fee

Deadline: February 15, 2018

Up to 5,500 words. Entry fee includes one issue of Ruminate. Free excerpts of recent stories available online. “$1500 will be awarded to the winner and publication in Ruminate. $200 will be awarded to the runner-up story and publication in Ruminate. A blind reading of all entries will be conducted by a panel of Ruminate readers, who will select 10 short stories as finalists. The finalists will then be reviewed by our finalist judge.”

Reasons to submit:

  • Blind submissions are fine submissions!
  • Prestige—#60 in Pushcart ranking
  • Flag-bearer—open to international submissions
  • Read on—entry fee includes one issue

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

Happy submitting!

Written by Arthur Klepchukov

About Mary Ellen Bellusci

Mary Ellen Bellusci is a longtime resident of Baltimore, Maryland... A foodie, traveler, writer, and pursuer of happiness.

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