Writers want their stories to be heard and to receive recognition for their work.

There are many writing contests out there. Some of them offer large cash prizes, some offer recognition or publishing contracts. Winning a well-known contest can help launch your career as a writer.
Top literary agents and publishers often approach writers who win contests.
Asides from the honor, credibility, and publicity which winning a contest gives you, some contests also have generous cash prizes.

If you’re seeking writing contests with cash prizes, you have probably faced the problem of not knowing which online advertised competitions are real, and which ones are bogus.

How do you know which contests are legitimate contests, that will honor your work and get you the recognition you want, and which ones are scams simply made to take your money?

We’ve compiled a list of 10 legitimate writing contests with money prizes for you to enter.

Legitimate Writing Contests with Cash Prizes

1.  Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize

If you are a non-fiction writer not yet established in the industry, this contest is for you! Graywolf seeks writers who are new to the industry and have major talent. Writers who live in the U.S. and have published one book, in any genre, can submit a manuscript in progress for consideration. The judges are interested in exciting work.

Deadline: This contest is every other year. The 2018 date is yet to be released so keep your eye out on this one.

Prize: $12,000 advance and publication by Graywolf Press.

2.  Tony Hillerman Prize

Are you a mystery writer with a story you are dying to tell? If so this contest is for you. The judges are looking for professional and non-professional writers who have not yet had a mystery novel published. The winning story must be a mystery novel set in the Southwest which complies with specific guidelines: “Murder or another serious crime or crimes must be at the heart of the story, with emphasis on the solution rather than the details of the crime.”

Deadline: TBD

Prize: $10,000 and publication with St. Martin’s Press.

3.  Inkitt

This contest is very exciting for fiction writers.
Novels submitted must be at least 20,000 words long in any fiction genre, excluding fan-fiction, short stories, and poetry.
The winner of this contest will win an all out publishing deal with Inkitt.
Inkitt has published many bestselling novels.
The prize also includes a cover design, professional editing of your manuscript, and 25 percent royalties from all sales. Inkitt will also work with you to get you into the Amazon Top 100. Awesome, right?

Deadline: See individual contest pages.

4.  PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction

This book contest is for fiction novels published by American authors. The award has been given to some great authors so far. Famous award-winners include John Updike, Philip Roth, and Ann Patchett. You won’t want to miss your chance to have your work honored amongst these greats!

Deadline: Annually on October 31 for books published in that calendar year.

Prize:  $15,000 and an invitation to read at the award ceremony in Washington, DC. Four finalists will also each receive a $5,000 award.

5.  Friends of American Writers Chicago Awards

This contest presents two awards. The Adult Literature Award is presented for literary fiction or non-fiction and the Juvenile Literature Award for children’s and YA novels. Only published books are permitted, self-published and E-books are not allowed.
In order to qualify to enter this contest, authors will need to either reside or set their stories in the state of Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Nebraska, Ohio, South Dakota or Wisconsin.

Deadline: This deadline is annually at the end of the year and the 2017 date is yet to be announced so keep your eye out on this one!

Prize: Between $500-$2,000.

6.  Stowe Prize

Are you a writer who is passionate about tackling issues of social justice in your works?
This contest honors American writers whose works have had an impact on a critical social justice issue.

The judges are looking for a work as significant as Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin.
 In addition to a submission of your work, judges also require that you submit a 250-word statement about the significance of your piece and any social justice work that you have done outside of your writing.

Deadline: Biennially in odd-numbered years. The 2019 deadline has yet to be announced.

Prize: $10,000

7.  Write the World – Contest for Teen Writers

This writing contest is only open to teen writers aged 13-18.
Once a writer submits their work, the piece is reviewed and the critiques are sent back to the writer so that they can revise the story before submitting a final copy for a chance to win the cash prize. This contest allows writers to enter again during each submission period giving them a chance to develop in different styles. Winners are featured on Write the World’s blog. Write The Word also hosts as a mini writing camp.

Deadline: Monthly.

Prize: $100 for the winner and $50 for the runner up.

8. African Poetry Book Fund Prizes

This contest awards 3 prizes annually for outstanding African poetry. The Glenna Luschei Prize for African Poetry is awarded to the author of an original African poetry book published in the prior year. This prize is $5,000.

The Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets is awarded to an author of an unpublished collection of poetry. This contest is perfect for emerging poets. The prize is $1,000 and a publication contract.

The Brunel University African Poetry Prize will be awarded to a poet who was born in Africa, is a national of an African country, or has African parents. (U.S. citizens qualify.)
To enter this contest, poets will need to be unpublished writers, and submit 10 poems for consideration.
The money prize is £3,000.

Deadline: See individual prize pages.

9.  Tufts Poetry Awards

The Kate Tufts Poetry Award is hosted by Claremont Graduate University and granted to outstanding poets with an unpublished book of poetry. The prize is $10,000.

The Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award goes to an amazing mid-career poet of a published book of poetry. The Prize for this contest is $100,000!

Deadline: The deadline for 2018 awards has not yet been announced.

10.  Writer’s Digest Annual Writing Competition

The Writer’s Digest contest is one of the longest running writing competitions. It’s been going for 83 years already!
This contest celebrates up and coming writers in a number of categories, including Memoirs/Personal Essay, Magazine Feature Article, and Genre Short story.

Deadline: The deadline for this year has passed but get your works ready for next year’s submission period.

Prize: The Grand Prize winner gets $5,000, a feature in Writer’s Digest magazine, a paid trip to a writing conference and more. Runners-up also earn nice prizes.

Happy Writing!

Alicia Jackson

Alicia Jackson

Social Media Manager & Content Writer at NY Literary Magazine
Alicia graduated from Auburn University, with a degree in English Technical and Professional Communication. She is an avid blogger and enjoys writing as well as outdoor photography. Alicia has a non-fiction piece published in The Auburn Circle.
Alicia Jackson