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Budget-Friendly Contests for Emerging Writers

Times are hard! Money is tight! But inspiration and creativity do not follow our rigid schedule. You write when the spark ignites, so these days you have to be smart and savvy to get your work seen.

I have collected a Top 10 list of the hottest and most budget-friendly contest that may help you line your pockets for the start of 2021 while still allowing you pinch a few pennies for the next couple months rent.

  • As a helpful reminder, with any piece you submit, do your part at familiarizing yourself with the journal prior to submitting. If your style is not complimentary to what editors have previously selected, guess what? Your work may not be selected. Many journals have selections available to read and previous contest winners work online to serve as an example.


Its Free! Simply put, this is a writing contest for Emerging Writers of Color in either Poetry of Fiction. "The winner will receive $1000 and publication, and the runner-up will receive $250. All finalists will be considered for publication in Issue 102 of Quarterly West." Submission deadline is November 1, 2020, and winners will be announced in February. See more details about this contest as well as others from Quarterly via Submittable.


Again, Its Free! This is an amazing opportunity for publication and spreading your word as a BIPOC Female Writer. There will be a $500 award and publication for each winner in visual art, fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. Some lucky finalist may also be chosen for publication. Reading period is live, now through November 10, 2020. See more details via Submittable.


My Alma Mater, University of Nevada Las Vegas, is home to The Black Mountain Institute who publishes this phenomenal Literary Journal. The Deadline for submissions is October 1, 2020, so get your work in fast! There is a small submission fee of $10. Winners in each genre (Nonfiction, Fiction and Poetry) will receive a $500 award as well as publication in the Spring 2021 Edition of Witness Magazine. Runners-up will receive a $250 and publication in either the Spring edition or a future edition. See more details via Submittable.


With a small entry fee of $15, and winners being awarded $500, book publication and 10 copies of the book once published, this Black River Chapbook Competition is well worth a couple drive thru meals. The deadline for submission is October 31, 2020, and winners will be chosen in both Prose and Poetry. "Twice each year Black Lawrence Press will run the Black River Chapbook Competition for an unpublished chapbook of poems or prose between 16-36 pages in length. The contest is open to new, emerging, and established writers." Visit Submittable for more details.


Don't tell me you didn't expect to see something here for Boulevard! And at $16 entry fee for a winning work of Fiction up to 8,000 words being awarded publication and $1,500 how could I NOT share this contest with you?! There is a small hitch with this for those of you who prefer immediate gratification, the deadline for submissions is December 31, 2020 (yay), but the winning story will be announced sometime in or around June...2021. But this is Boulevard! Some things are well worth waiting for. This contest is for unpublished, emerging writers of Short Fiction. See more details via Submittable.


This is one of the most unique, interactive and exciting submissions you may ever participate in as a creative writer. Not only are you hoping your work is getting some votes, but you are also the selection committee for other writers. What good energy! You vote your truth and hope others take as kindly to your work. There are multiple rounds of voting. See the link for more details on the voting rounds and how to be apart of this one of a kind submission process. The top 15 short stories and the top 30 sets of poems are published. A $5 submission fee enters you into the contest along with your manuscript of a short story in PDF format up to 5,000 words, or Poetry manuscript up to 5 poems in PDF format by October 24, 2020. See link for more details and contest rules. *Each writer receives voting and comment feedback in 36 days.


Yes, this one is a little pricey, but look at all this awesome! There are a total of four contests: Very Short Fiction, Fiction, Poetry, and One Act Play. Entry fees range from $10 to $25 but Grand Prize Winners will receive up to $1500, VIP Festival Pass, a Public Reading, Publication in one of four literary journals, and one lucky Fiction winner will also get Domestic Airfare and accommodations for the Festival in New Orleans on March 24-28, 2021. In addition to the TWFest, the Saints & Sinners Festival will be held within the same week beginning on March 26th. This is an inclusive Festival that highlights emerging writers across the LGBT+ spectrum and queer writers of color. There is a $20 fee for the SASFest Fiction Contest and $15 for Poetry with prizes ranging from $100- $500. Maybe I am biased because New Orleans is my heart, but this one is a fun contest for those with a penchant for jazz, lights, lits and glam! Visit the Submittable page for more contest details. Hope to see you there!


This 2020 Open Chapbook Competition has a small submission fee of $15 for 16-38 pages of unpublished poetry with a prize of $1,000 and publication for a chapbook-length poetry collection in perfect-bound print edition. Ingram Group distribution. That is huge!

The contest ends at 11:59 pm EST on October 31st, and must be submitted via Submittable.


The Lexi Rudnitsky First Book Prize may be $30, but let me explain why this is one that beckons you to shoot for the stars.

The winner receives an advance of $1,000.00 and publication of her collection by Persea. That is huge! Not only will the self-identified female poet get to have her book published for the first time, she will also get "the option of an all-expenses-paid residency at the Civitella Ranieri Center, a renowned artists retreat housed in a fifteenth-century castle in Umbertide, Italy."

The contest ends at 11:59 pm EST on October 31st, and must be submitted via Submittable.


Last but not least! For the upcoming Holiday season!

"Twice each year TGS will award $1,000 and publication to the winner of our short story competition. Two other writers will receive Honorable Mentions that include publication and a $250 cash award. Winning stories and Honorable Mentions will be published on The Ghost Story website on Midsummer’s Eve and October 31. In addition, winning and Honorable Mention stories will be included in the paperbound anthology, 21st Century Ghost Stories—Volume II, which is scheduled for publication by Wyrd Harvest Press (Durham, U.K.) in 2021."

Deadline of September 30, 2020, and a $20 entry fee.


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