Home / Writing / Fiction Writing Contests Worth Your Time in Winter 2018

Fiction Writing Contests Worth Your Time in Winter 2018

What are your submission or rejection goals for 2018? Inspired by Lit Hub’s 100 rejections per year post, I got 93 rejections 2017 and aimed to cross 100 this year. Since my last contest roundup, I’m at 125 rejections this year.

This submissions season covers deadlines from December 1, 2018 through February 28, 2019. Don’t let your words wither on your hard drive! Finish the year strong by sending out your best work and start the new year with an invigorating round of submissions. Thanks to Literistic, Poets & Writers, Submittable Discover, and New Pages 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.


December 2018

Bronx Council on the Arts – BRIO Artist Awards for Excellence – $0 fee

Deadline: December 10, 2018

$4,000 grants given to Bronx-based artists, including fiction writers. Winners are encouraged to complete a public service activity as part of the Artists for Community Enrichment program. Students enrolled in a degree-granting program are ineligible. Submit up to 30 pages of prose written in the last five years (2013-2018).

Reasons to submit:

  • Blind submissions are fine submissions!
  • Oh, wordy!—generous word count limit
  • Rebirth—accepts published work
  • Regional restriction—less competition
  • Share the wealth—multiple prizes

Friends of American Writers – Literary Award – $0 fee

Deadline: December 10, 2018

A prize of up to $4,000 is given annually for a book of fiction published in 2018. The author must be a resident (or previously have been a resident for approximately five years) of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Nebraska, Ohio, South Dakota or Wisconsin; or the locale of the book must be in a region identified above. The prize may be split if more than one winner is selected. Writers who have published up to three books are eligible. Self-published books are not eligible. Authors or publishers may submit two copies of books published in 2018 and an author bio by December 10. There is no entry fee.

Reasons to submit:

  • Friendly to novelists
  • Rebirth—accepts published work
  • Regional restriction—less competition
  • Free to enter

Beloit Fiction Journal – Hamlin Garland Award for the Short Story – $20 fee

Deadline: December 10, 2018

$2,000 and publication will be awarded to the top unpublished story of up to 7,000 words on any theme. All entrants will be considered for publication. The judge for this year’s contest is Bonnie Nadzam, author of Lions: A Novel. The award may be split at the judge’s discretion. Submit by mail or electronically.

Reasons to submit:

LitMag – Virginia Woolf Award for Short Fiction – $20 fee

Deadline: December 15, 2018

Submit previously unpublished short stories between 3,000 and 8,000 words. Judged by the editors of the magazine. First Prize: $3,500, publication in LitMag, and agency review by Sobel Weber Associates (clients include: Viet Thanh Nguyen, Richard Russo, Laura Lee Smith). Second Prize: $1,000 and agency review. Finalists: Five finalists will receive $100 each. All finalists will be considered for possible agency review. All entries will be considered for publication.

Reasons to submit:

TSS Publishing – Flash Fiction 400 – £5 fee

Deadline: December 15, 2018

Every quarter we will be publishing the winning and highly commended Flash Fiction entries on our Short Fiction page. Up to 400 words, including the title. This is an international competition. Submission fees for the Flash Fiction 400 competition will be waived for any writers from marginalised and disadvantaged communities, or anyone suffering from economic hardship. Judged by Emily Devane and Rupert Dastur. Longlist announced late September. Winners and Highly Commended in early October.Prizes: Online Publication plus 1st £400, 2nd £100, 3rd £50. All 1st place winners will be nominated for the Best Small Fiction Awards. All winners (1st, 2nd, 3rd) will be published in a chapboook within 12 months of the spring competition).  

Reasons to submit:

  • Blind submissions are fine submissions!
  • Flag-bearer—open to international submissions
  • No hunting for winners—can read past winners online
  • Share the wealth—multiple prizes

Nowhere – Fall 2018 Travel Writing Contest – $20 fee

Deadline: December 31, 2018

Literary travel magazine Nowhere is looking for young, old, novice and veteran writers to send us stories that possess a powerful sense of place. Entries should be 800-5,000 words, in English, and must not have been previously chosen as a winner in another contest. Previously published work is accepted, but again, please indicate this. Every submission will be read blind. The winner will receive $1,000, with publication in Nowhere granted under First North American Serial Rights (FNASR). Up to ten finalists also will be published.

Reasons to submit:

  • Blind submissions are fine submissions!
  • Flag-bearer—open to international submissions
  • Friendly to emerging writers
  • No hunting for winners—can read past winners online
  • Rebirth—accepts published work

Before Columbus Foundation – American Book Awards – $0 fee

Deadline: December 31, 2018

The American Book Awards Program respects and honors excellence in American literature without restriction or bias with regard to race, sex, creed, cultural origin, size of press or ad budget, or even genre. There would be no requirements, restrictions, limitations, or second places. There would be no categories (i.e., no “best” novel or only one “best” of anything). The winners would not selected by any set quota for diversity (nor would “mainstream white anglo male” authors be excluded), because diversity happens naturally. Finally, there would be no losers, only winners. The only criteria would be outstanding contribution to American literature in the opinion of the judges. There are no application forms, fees, or any other restrictions for submissions, nominations, or recommendations to the panel. The book is what matters, not the procedure. The only requirement is that two copies of the book must be mailed to the Before Columbus Foundation by December 31st for consideration for the following year’s Awards. Anyone may make a submission (it does not have to be the publisher). There is no limit on the number of titles that may be submitted. All genres are accepted (including anthologies, children’s books, and multimedia).

Reasons to submit:

  • Support a noble, inclusive award
  • Friendly to novelists
  • Oh, wordy!—generous word count limit
  • Rebirth—accepts published work

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

Deadline: December 31, 2018

$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 includes a one-year subscription. We accept works 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 of Boulevard. Due to the number of submissions, we cannot respond to each writer individually. Please check the website in June for notification of the winner.

Reasons to submit:

  • Friendly to emerging writers
  • Oh, wordy!—generous word count limit
  • Prestige—#31 in Pushcart ranking
  • Read on—entry fee includes one-year subscription

River Styx – 2019 Microfiction Contest – $10-$20 fee

Deadline: December 31, 2018

500 words maximum per story, up to three stories per entry fee. $1,500 First Prize. Choose your entry fee: $10 or $20. $20 entry fee includes a one-year subscription. $10 entry fee includes a copy of the issue in which the winning stories will appear. Include name and address on the cover letter only. First, second, and third place winners will be published in Issue 100. All stories will be considered for publication. Judged by the editors of River Styx.

Reasons to submit:


January 2019

Mississippi Review – The 2019 MR Prize – $16 fee

Deadline: January 1, 2019

$1,000 annual prize in fiction. Winners and finalists will make up next summer’s print issue of the national literary magazine Mississippi Review. Contest is open to all writers in English except current or former students or employees of The University of Southern Mississippi. Fiction entries should be 1000-8000 words. Each entrant will receive a copy of the prize issue. All submissions will be read anonymously. Please remove or redact any contact information from your submission. Previously published work is ineligible. Simultaneous submissions are welcomed and encouraged as long as you notify us immediately of acceptance elsewhere. Winners will be announced in March and publication is scheduled for June next year.

Reasons to submit:

  • Blind submissions are fine submissions!
  • Flag-bearer—open to international submissions
  • Oh, wordy!—generous word count limit
  • Prestige—#49 in Pushcart ranking
  • Read on—entry fee includes prize issue

Glimmer Train – Family Matters Contest – $18 fee

Deadline: January 2, 2019

We are looking for stories about families of all configurations. It’s fine to draw heavily on real-life experiences, but the work must read like fiction and all stories accepted for publication will be presented as fiction. Sticking too tightly to “fact” can limit the larger truth that fiction is able to reveal. Give your story the leeway it needs in order to find its own life. And, if your story is closely related to your actual experience, it is wise to change details that would allow the real-life people to say, Hey, that’s me! Most entries run from 500 to 5,000 words but any lengths up to 12,000 are welcome.

1st place: $2,500 | publication in Glimmer Train Stories | 10 copies

2nd place: $500*

3rd place: $300*

*Or, if accepted for publication, $700 and 10 copies of that issue

Note: with Glimmer Train entering its final year in 2019, this is the penultimate chance to enter this contest.

Reasons to submit:

San José State University – Steinbeck Fellowships in Creative Writing – $0 fee

Deadline: January 2, 2019

The Steinbeck Fellows Program of San José State University was endowed through the generosity of Martha Heasley Cox. It offers new writers of any age and background a $15,000 fellowship to finish a significant writing project. Named in honor of author John Steinbeck, the program is guided by his lifetime of work in literature, the media, and environmental activism. The program offers the opportunity to interact with other writers, faculty and graduate students, and to share their work in progress by giving a public reading once each semester during the fellowship.  The fellowships afford a stipend of $15,000. Residency in the San José area is required during the academic year (approximately 1 September – 20 May). While in residence in the San José area, Fellows are afforded office space and, when needed, housing assistance through the Center for Steinbeck Studies and the Department of English and Comparative Literature. Announced in April 2019.

Reasons to submit:

  • Friendly to emerging writers
  • Friendly to novelists
  • Oh, wordy!—generous word count limit
  • Rebirth—accepts published work
  • Wanderluster—prize includes lodging or travel
  • Free to apply

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

Deadline: January 7, 2019

Established in 1984, the Maureen Egen Writers Exchange Award introduces emerging writers to the New York City literary community. Writers from the state of West Virginia are invited to apply for the Maureen Egen Writers Exchange Award. One fiction writer will be selected. Winner receives a $500 honorarium, a one-month residency at the Jentel Artist Residency Program in Wyoming, and an all-expenses-paid trip to New York City to meet with top literary professionals, including editors, agents, publishers, and prominent writers. Bryn Chancellor will judge fiction. Manuscripts up to 25 pages may include stories and/or excerpts from novels. Published work may be included; however, no reprints from books or magazines are acceptable. Published work must be retyped to conform with the rest of manuscript and should not be identified as published work.

Reasons to submit:

  • Friendly to emerging writers
  • Friendly to novelists
  • Oh, wordy!—generous word count limit
  • Rebirth—accepts published work
  • Regional restriction—less competition
  • Wanderluster—prize includes lodging or travel

Literal Latté – K. Margaret Grossman Fiction Award – $10 fee

Deadline: January 15, 2019

A first prize of $1,000 and publication in Literal Latté is given annually for a short story. Second and third prizes are $300 and $200, respectively. Submit a story of up to 10,000 words with a $10 entry fee ($15 for two stories) by January 15, 2019. All entries are considered for publication. All styles and subjects welcome.

Reasons to submit:

Bethesda Magazine – Short Story Contest – $0 fee

Deadline: January 18, 2019

Residents of Montgomery County, MD and Upper NW Washington, D.C. (Zip Codes 20015 and 20016) are eligible. The contest will take entries in two categories: High School (grades 9-12) and Adult (ages 18+). Bethesda Magazine and the Bethesda Urban Partnership are partnering to sponsor a short story and essay contest. Submissions open on November 9, 2018, and are accepted through January 18, 2019. Only one entry per person. Winners will be notified by March 31, 2019, and the winning short stories and essays will appear in the July/August 2019 issue of Bethesda Magazine. All of the stories (first, second, and third place, and all honorable mentions) will be published on BethesdaMagazine.com and Bethesda.org. Authors of the winning and runner up stories will be honored at a special event during the Bethesda Urban Partnership’s Local Writer’s Showcase. Submitted stories must be the author’s original work and cannot have been previously published. For winning stories, after they are published, the rights revert to the author and they are free to have it published elsewhere at that time. Four prizes range from $75 to $500.

Reasons to submit:

  • Friendly to emerging writers
  • Regional restriction—less competition
  • Share the wealth—multiple prizes

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

Deadline: January 31, 2019

One prize of $1,000.00 and publication in The Chattahoochee Review is awarded to a winning story 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. Judged by Kevin Wilson.

Reasons to submit:

  • Blind submissions are fine submissions!
  • Oh, wordy!—generous word count limit
  • Prestige—#126 in Pushcart ranking
  • Read on—entry fee includes one-year subscription


February 2019

American Short(er) Fiction Contest – $17 fee

Deadline: February 1, 2019

The American Short(er) Story Contest recognizes extraordinary short fiction under 1,000 words. Judged by Danielle Dutton. Stories must be 1,000 words or fewer. You are allowed to include up to three stories per entry. The 1st-place winner will receive a $1,000 prize and publication. One runner-up will receive $250 and publication. All entries will be considered for publication. All entries must be single, self-contained works of fiction, under 1,000 words. Please DO NOT include any identifying information (name, address, email) on the manuscript itself.

Reasons to submit:

  • Blind submissions are fine submissions!
  • Flag-bearer—open to international submissions
  • Prestige—#19 in Pushcart ranking
  • Share the wealth—multiple prizes

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 18, 2019

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.” We will be notifying all entrants of submission status in late April, 2019.

Reasons to submit:

Summer Literary Seminars – SLS Fiction Contest 2019 – $17 fee

Deadline: February 28, 2019

1st place—free airfare, tuition, & accommodations for a 2019 SLS program of your choice, and publication in Fence Magazine.

2nd place—a full tuition waiver for a 2019 SLS program of your choice.

3rd place—a 75% tuition discount for a 2019 SLS program of your choice.

Fiction submissions must not exceed 25 pages.

Each submission must be original, unpublished work.

Your name should not appear anywhere on the manuscript itself, please.

Reasons to submit:

  • Blind submissions are fine submissions!
  • Oh, wordy!—generous word count limit
  • Share the wealth—multiple prizes
  • Wanderluster—prize includes lodging or travel

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

Happy submitting!

About Arthur Klepchukov

Arthur Klepchukov was born between Black Seas, Virginian Beaches, and San Franciscan waves. He adores trains, swing sets, and music that tears him outta time. Read Art’s words in The Common, Necessary Fiction, KYSO Flash, Fiction Southeast, and more at ArsenalOfWords.com


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About Mary Ellen Bellusci

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