Great writing competitions – September 2019

We’ve brought together September’s best competitions and opportunities, open to writers of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, flash fiction and scriptwriting. There are a lot of great competitions with deadlines this month so we’ve got a bumper list for you! 

All the opportunities mentioned should be open to writers across the UK and most are open internationally too. We share details of prizes, requirements, eligibility, entry fees (some are free) and deadlines to help you choose the right ones for you.

Writer’s Digest Self-Published eBook Awards

The Writer’s Digest Self-Published eBook Awards honour the best self-published books. A total of $13,000 in cash prizes are on offer.

There are eight categories covering some of the most popular genres including contemporary fiction, romance, fantasy, science fiction, mystery/thriller, memoir, young adult and nonfiction. Entries are open to authors from most countries in the world.

  • Prizes  The grand prize is $5,000 in cash, a feature in Writer’s Digest Magazine and a paid trip to the publication’s annual conference in New York. The first prize winner in each category will receive $1,000 in cash and more. There are further prizes for runners-up.
  • Deadline – 3rd September.
  • Entry fee – First entry is $125 and each additional entry is $95.
  • Full details – Visit the Writer’s Digest website.

Fresh Voices Screenplay Competition

This competition is welcoming full-length screenplays, TV pilots and short scripts from writers around the world. Executives, managers and producers actively seeking new writers and projects are lined up to read this year’s winners.

  • Prizes  There is a $20,000 prize pot across all the categories as well as other prizes including screenplay development, career consultations, guaranteed reads and industry consideration. 
  • Deadline – The regular deadline is 10th September. There are also later deadlines available but these come with higher entry fees. 
  • Entry fee – $65 for entries in time for the regular deadline. 
  • Full details – Visit the Fresh Voices website.

Adventures in Fiction New Voices Competition

If you have a winning idea for a novel and would like support in the early stages, Adventures in Fiction is offering a start-up package to the most promising first page and synopsis. 

  • Prize  Mentoring package worth £500 that includes a writing masterclass, manuscript appraisal and development strategy.
  • Deadline – 14th September.
  • Entry fee – £10.
  • Full details – Visit the Adventures in Fiction website.

Women’s Poetry and Pamphlet Competition

The Poetry Book Society has teamed up with Mslexia magazine to run two prestigious women’s poetry competitions. 

The Women’s Poetry Competition will be judged by the award winning poet Malika Booker. Women poets who have not previously had a full collection published are also invited to submit a new poetry pamphlet.

  • Prizes  The top prize in the poetry competition is £2,000 plus optional mentoring and a writing retreat kindly supported by Cove Park. There are further cash prizes for runners-up. The winning pamphlet will be published by Seren Books in 2020 and will additionally receive £250. 
  • Deadline – 16th September.
  • Entry fee – £10 for the poetry competition and £20 for the pamphlet competition.
  • Full details – Visit the Poetry Book Society website.

The Ginkgo Prize for Ecopoetry

The Ginkgo Prize for Ecopoetry is a major international award for poems embracing ecological themes. It aims to highlight the role poetry can play in raising awareness, gaining insight, and provoking concern for the ecological imperatives of our time.

The judges are the iconic Mexican writer, activist and ambassador Homero Aridjis and the TS Eliot Award-winning poet Jen Hadfield.

  • Prizes  First prize is £5,000, second prize is £2,000 and third prize is £1,000.
  • Deadline – 15th September. 
  • Entry fee – £7 for the first poem, then £4 for every subsequent poem.
  • Full details – Visit the Ginkgo Prize website.

Giles St Aubyn Awards for Non-Fiction

The Royal Society of Literature’s annual awards for first-time writers of nonfiction are funded by a generous bequest from author and RSL Fellow, Giles St Aubyn.

Two prizes will be awarded to two writers to support them with completing their first commissioned works of nonfiction. The 2019 judges are Rachel Hewitt, Kenan Malik and Fiona St Aubyn (Chair).

  • Prizes  Two awards will be presented, one of £10,000 and one of £5,000.
  • Deadline – 19th September.
  • Entry fee – FREE.
  • Full details – Visit the Royal Society of Literature website.

Manchester Writing Prizes 

Manchester Metropolitan University has two great writing competitions open internationally.

Enter short stories of up to 2,500 words into The Manchester Fiction Prize or a portfolio of three to five poems (up to 120 lines combined) into The Manchester Poetry Prize.

  • Prizes  £10,000 in each category.
  • Deadline – 20th September.
  • Entry fee – £17.50 in each category.
  • Full details – Visit the Manchester Metropolitan University website.

Grindstone International Novel Prize

Enter the first 3,000 words of a finished novel or a work-in-progress for a chance to win the Grindstone International Novel Prize. This year’s guest judge is Literary Agent Lucy Morris from Curtis Brown.

  • Prize  £1,000, publication in Grindstone’s anthology, a discounted place on a Curtis Brown Creative course, as well as personalised feedback from the judges. 
  • Deadline – 28th September.
  • Entry fee – £22.
  • Full details – Visit the Grindstone Literary website.

The Galley Beggar Press Short Story Prize

The prestigious, Galley Beggar Press Short Story Prize is open for submissions of literary stories. This year’s judges are Arifa Akbar, Toby Litt and Todd McEwen.

  • Prizes  The winning author will receive £2,000. Shortlisted authors will each receive £150. Long listed authors will receive £50 of book vouchers and a 4-book subscription.
  • Deadline – 29th September.
  • Entry fee – £10. 70 free entries are being offered to writers on a low income who would not otherwise be able to afford to enter the prize, on a first come, first serve basis.
  • Full details – Visit the Galley Beggar website.

Dzanc Books Writing Prizes

Novels (40,000 words and up), novellas (18,000 to 40,000 words) and book-length short story collections are being welcomed by Dzanc Books across three competitions this year. 

  • Prizes  The Prize for Fiction offers a $5,000 advance and publication; the winning Short Story Collection will be offered a $2,500 advance and publication; The Novella Prize offers a $1,500 advance and publication.
  • Deadline – 30th September.
  • Entry fee – $25.
  • Full details – Visit the Dzanc Books website.

Channel 4 screenwriting opportunity

Opportunities to be paid a fee to participate in a Channel 4 screenwriting course and complete two drafts of a one-hour script will be awarded to twelve writers who have not yet had a broadcast credit.

Submit a writing sample of 20 to 130 pages (this can be a screenplay, stage play or radio play) along with your CV. Scripts should be original and not episodes of an existing drama series. 

  • Deadline – 27th September.
  • Entry fee – FREE.
  • Full details – Visit the Script Consultant website.

The New Guard Fiction and Poetry Contests 

The New Guard Volume IX Knightville Poetry Contest and Machigonne Fiction Contest are open.

Enter poems, in any form, of up to 150 lines into the Knightsville Poetry Contest which is being judged this year by Richard Blanco.

The Machigonne Fiction Contest is being judged by Elizabeth Hand and is welcoming works of fiction in any genre. Enter up to 5,000 words.

  • Prizes  $1,500 and publication, in each category. 
  • Deadline – 27th September.
  • Entry fee – $22.
  • Full details – Visit The New Guard website.

Mslexia Women’s Competitions

Mslexia has a number of great competitions open this year to anyone who identifies as a woman. You can be any nationality and from any country.

As a result of support given by Mslexia to winners in previous years, many have gone on to see their work broadcast or published beyond the pages of the magazine, have secured agent representation and publishing deals.

  • Prizes First prize for Adult Novel is £5,000 and the option of representation by literary agent, Charlotte Robertson; first prize for Short Story is £3,000 and publication; first prize for Flash Fiction is £500 and publication. There are further prizes for runners-up.
  • Deadline – 30th September.
  • Entry fee – Adult novels cost £25, short stories £10 and flash fiction £5.
  • Full details – Visit the Mslexia website.

The Caterpillar Story for Children Prize 

This annual award is given to the best story (of no more than 1,500 words) written by an adult for children aged 7 to 11. Anyone can enter, as long as you are over 16 and your story is unpublished. 

  • Prizes  The winner will be awarded €1,000. This year, a second prize is also being offered which includes a week’s retreat at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Ireland.
  • Deadline – 30th September.
  • Entry fee – €12.
  • Full details – Visit The Caterpillar website.

Philip Levine Prize for Poetry 

The Philip Levine Prize for Poetry is an annual book contest sponsored by the Creative Writing Program at California State University, Fresno. This contest is open to any poet writing in English.

Enter original, unpublished, full-length poetry manuscripts that are between 48 and 80 pages in length with no more than one poem per page.

Tom Howard/Margaret Reid Poetry Contest 

Winning Writers’ 17th annual Tom Howard/Margaret Reid Poetry Contest is welcoming published and unpublished poetry from writers in most countries around the world. Poems can be up to 250 lines. 

  • Prizes  Both the Tom Howard Prize and Margaret Reid Prize offer a top award of $2,000. There are also awards for runners-up. 
  • Deadline – 30th September.
  • Entry fee – $12.
  • Full details – Visit the Winning Writers website.

That’s it for this month but do join us on Facebook and Twitter to make sure you don’t miss out on new opportunities. 

You can also find details of more competitions coming up this year here.

If you’re running a great competition or are creating a wonderful opportunity for writers in the near future, do get in touch with us here. We publish the best every month on Literary Lightbox and promote even more on social media.

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    By: Literary Lightbox

    Literary Lightbox, founded by Loretta Milan, publishes great writing inspiration, opportunities and news. We feature New York Times and Sunday Times bestselling authors, emerging and indie authors too.

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