romance writing awards

Romance Novel Awards: Your In-Depth Guide

Literary awards, no matter what kind, are imperfect at best. They’re always going to be subjective, no matter how fair and reasoned the nomination process is. They can be a great tool to help readers find new books, but paying too much attention to them means you can easily miss out on fantastic books, too. In that sense, romance novel awards are definitely a mixed bag.

There are a few big awards given out by organizations such as the Romance Writers of America, although the most prestigious romance novel awards, the RITA Awards, collapsed in 2019 (we’ll get to that, but we’re not sad about it). In addition to the newly minted Vivian Award (which replaces the RITAs), there are quite a few reader-hosted awards, as well as niche awards for particular kinds of romance.

I hope this guide will help you navigate your way through all the romance novel awards out there. I’ve highlighted what each award is, who hosts it, the kinds of books it recognizes, and why you might want to pay attention to it. My purpose isn’t to elevate any one award over another, but to help you find the awards that will speak to you and help you discover lots of new romances to love. Whether you’re looking for new books across various romance sub-genres, want to get more involved in the online romance community, or are just curious about what books your fellow readers are loving, these awards can be a great place to start.

I’ve highlighted a few must-read past winners of each award, but you can, of course, find many more recommendations in our Romance archives . Ready for some happily-ever-afters? Let’s go!

Romance Novel Awards Hosted by Organizations

The vivian award (rwa) (formerly the rita awards).

The Vivian Award, hosted by the Romance Writers of America (RWA), replaces the controversial and now-defunct RITA Awards . There’s a lot of history here. The RITAs began in the 1980s and have long been considered the most prestigious romance awards out there (and the only major one). For years, members of the romance community have been criticizing the RITAs for the continued lack of BIPOC authors among the nominations and winners. It all came to a head in the fall of 2019 , when prolific romance author Courtney Milan was sanctioned by the RWA for an “ethics violation.” The RWA collapsed, and in May 2020, they canceled the RITAs and announced a new award , named for the Black co-founder of the organization, Vivian Stephens.

2021 is The Vivian Award’s inaugural year. There are 18 categories, including long, mid-length and short entires in contemporary, historical, and speculative romance, as well as romantic suspense. Additional categories include YA, romance with religions or spiritual elements, mainstream fiction with a central romance, most anticipated romance, and best first published romance.

Must-Read Past Winners of the RITA Awards

Why Pay Attention?

Most of Romancelandia was eagerly waiting to see if the Vivian Awards would actually be an indication that the RWA is changing for the better. Unfortunately, this doesn’t seem to be the case. The 2021 winners were announced in July, and it was a mess. The winner of the Vivian for Romance with Religious or Spiritual Elements was a book with a genocidal “hero” . The RWA has since rescinded the award and released a statement regarding the category itself.

The takeaway: so far, it doesn’t seem like the revamped Vivian Award is doing much to address the underlying problems with the RWA. This award is worth paying attention to, especially if you’re an avid romance reader, if only to keep up with what’s happening in the romance book world. But it’s never going to be my go-to award for recommendations.

The Ripped Bodice Awards (The Ripped Bodice Bookstore)

The Ripped Bodice Awards for Excellence in Romantic Fiction were started in 2019 by Bea and Leah Koch, owners of the Ripped Bodice Bookstore. The awards are judged by a panel of experts, including romance writers, readers bloggers, and influencers. Book Riot’s own Jessica Pryde and Silvana Reyes have both been on the panel in years past! There are no categories; each year, several honorees are chosen (9 in 2019, 12 in 2020). Each honor receives $1000, plus a $100 donation to the charity of their choice.

Must-Read Past Winners

Of all the awards I researched while writing this article, this is the one that has the highest percentage of romances I’ve read and loved. A few recent favorites include:

This is a fun award that grew out of a desire many in the Romance community have for an inclusive award without barriers. If its first two years are any indication, it looks like it’s doing what it set out to do.

The RONA Awards (Romantic Novelists’ Association, UK Based)

The Romantic Novelists’ Association (RONA) is basically the UK equivalent of the RWA. They have been issuing the Romantic Novel Awards annually since 1960! Currently, the award consists of nine categories, and nominations are judged by a panel of romance readers. Categories include contemporary, historical, romantic comedy, debut novel, fantasy, romantic thriller, romantic saga, romance novellas, and holiday romances. Any book with a central romantic element is eligible for a RONA Award. This includes genre romance as well as books in other genres with a strong romantic plot. It is only open to books by authors living and/or working in the UK.

Why Pay Attention

Because this award isn’t strictly given to genre romance with guaranteed HEAs, it’s a good one to check out if you like books that blend romance with other plot elements.

Reader Hosted Romance Novel Awards

The emma awards (romance slam jam).

The Emma Awards is an annual award hosted by the Romance Slam Jam Convention, a yearly convention that celebrates diversity in romance. The Emma Awards are open to all published authors, and recognize outstanding books featuring multicultural perspectives and non-white protagonists. It’s the only romance award that focuses specifically on books by and about BIPOC people. Categories include commercial romance, erotic romance, historical romance, interracial romance, and paranormal romance, among others.

Mainstream romance awards do not have a great track record when it comes to inclusivity (see above). This is a great award to pay attention to if you’re looking for under-the-radar books by BIPOC authors. While there are, of course, lots of best-selling and big-name BIPOC romance authors, this award tends to focus on lesser known titles. It’s a great way to discover hidden gems!

Australian Romance Readers Awards (Australian Romance Readers Association)

The Australian Romance Readers Awards is an annual award hosted by the Australian Romance Readers Association (ARRA). ARRA is a reader-run organization founded in 2007 to celebrate all things romance. Members nominate and vote on books in several categories, including contemporary, historical, continuing series, paranormal, and debut author. The award also includes the Member’s Choice Awards, with fun categories that change annually. In the past, these have included Australian-set romance, small town romance, and romance with a laugh-out-loud moment. The winners are announced in February or March.

If you’re a romance reader based outside Australia, this is a great way to discover more Australian authors! While books published in any country can be nominated, this award definitely focuses on Australian romance novels.

The Swoon Awards (Reader Hosted)

The Swoon Awards, affectionately known as The Swoonies, is a reader-hosted romance award that celebrates the romance community’s favorite reads each year. Founded in 2020 by a group of dedicated romance readers and book bloggers, the award features 15 subcategories, including standard categories like contemporary, historical, and fantasy romance, as well as YA romance, romance anthologies, holiday romance, and best romance cover. First, second, and third place winners are chosen in each category. This is a crowd-sourced award; any and all romance readers are encouraged to vote in three rounds.

The inaugural winners of the 2020 Swoonies were announced in February 2021. The list includes far too many amazing titles to list! Some highlights include:

The Swoonies are a fantastic place to start if you’re just getting into romance. The above titles are all written by queer and/or BIPOC authors (yay!) So far, the Swoonies seem to capture the spirit, warmth, and diversity of Romancelandia — all the the things that make it great.

#ReadRChat Awards (Reader Hosted on Twitter)

#ReadRChat is a monthly romance book chat hosted on Twitter. The #ReadRChatAwards began as an offshoot of the hashtag in 2018. It’s an informal, inclusive award that celebrates the best of the romance community. Books are nominated and then voted on by readers; anyone can vote. You can view past winners by browsing the #ReadRChatAwards hashtag on Twitter.

It can be hard to find information on this award, since there is no official website and it lives in Twitter threads. But if you’re an active member of Romancelandia, it’s a great one to check out. And if the nominations from past years are anything to go by, reading your way through them will give you a great introduction to some of the best romance authors working today.

Other Awards That Feature Romance Subcategories

While not strictly romance novel awards, these other literary awards feature romance categories. Browsing through past romance winners and nominees, you’ll find a whole lot of wonderful books.

The Goodreads Choice Awards

Th e Goodreads Choice Awards are the only major literary award decided entirely by readers. Readers vote in the fall, and winners are announced in December. There is just one romance category.

This award isn’t going to introduce you to a whole lot of new or under-the-radar romances. It is an award that a lot of readers pay attention to, though, so I think it’s worth voting in the romance rounds, especially to bring more attention to amazing romances by LGBTQ+ and BIPOC authors.

The Lambda Literary Awards

The Lammy Awards, hosted by Lambda Literary, is the biggest national award focused on LGBTQ+ books and authors. The Lammys were founded in 1988, although the romance categories weren’t introduced until the mid 2000s. Today, the Lammys include four distinct romance/erotica categories: Gay Romance, Gay Erotica, Lesbian Romance, and Lesbian Erotica. Awards are announced every year in June.

I read a lot of queer romance, and it’s honestly pretty rare that I see my favorite titles show up in the Lammy nominations. That said, the nominations (and winners) are still worth checking out as one resource, among many, for finding LGBTQ+ romance.

The Audie Awards

The Audie Awards is the biggest audiobook award in the U.S. Winners across multiple categories are announced annually in March. There’s just one category for romance, which makes it easy to browse through past winners and runners-up.

Must-Listen Past Winners

If you’re an avid romance reader and audiobook listener, it’s worth perusing the list of Audie-nominated romance titles. It’s usually a small pool, and definitely not representative of the romance genre as a whole, but you’ll still find some great listens.

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Let Your Stories Live! Welcome to

**2023 hawthorne prize winner announced**, 2023 hawthorne prize winner, moss by joe pace.

Isaiah Moss was one of the greatest American writers of the 20th century. His illegitimate son Oscar Kendall wasn't. Living in Isaiah's inescapable shadow, Oscar has become an inveterate quitter who hides his own literary work from the world rather than suffer the pain of failure or rejection.

When Isaiah suddenly dies, Oscar inherits the 

When Isaiah suddenly dies, Oscar inherits the old man's lakefront writing cabin in New Hampshire. There he finds his father's typewriter, a full liquor cabinet, and an unpublished manuscript of such genius that it could launch Oscar's career if he claims it as his own.

But as Oscar wrestles with his own twisted inspirations, he meets the women in Isaiah's life and begins to learn the depths of his father's secrets...and the costs that come with unresolved trauma and romantic delusion.

 Joe Pace lives in his native New Hampshire with his wife Sarah and their sons. A Boston sports fan and an incurable public servant, Joe holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of New Hampshire and a Master’s in Public Administration from Seattle University. He has previously published the award-winning and crit

 Joe Pace lives in his native New Hampshire with his wife Sarah and their sons. A Boston sports fan and an incurable public servant, Joe holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of New Hampshire and a Master’s in Public Administration from Seattle University. He has previously published the award-winning and critically-acclaimed literary fiction novel Moss (2021) and two science fiction novels: Minotaur (2012) and Lost Harvest (2015), all through Reliquary Press.  


2023 hawthorne prize finalists.




FULL BOOK TITLE:   Ghost of the Rio Grande  

AUTHOR NAME:  Don Allen Holbrook 

PUBLISHER NAME:  Two Knights One Horse



PUBLISHER NAME: Reliquary Press

FULL BOOK TITLE: The Islander  

AUTHOR NAME: David W. Berner 

PUBLISHER NAME: Outpost19 Books/The Shortish Project

FULL BOOK TITLE: The Silence in the Sound

AUTHOR NAME: Dianne C. Braley


FULL BOOK TITLE: The Year of the Bear  

AUTHOR NAME: Douglas J. Lanzo 

PUBLISHER NAME: Ambassador International


AUTHOR NAME: Brian Kaufman

PUBLISHER NAME: Black Rose Writing

FULL BOOK TITLE: Where the Lilacs Bloom Once Again

AUTHOR NAME: Roni Rosenthal


FULL BOOK TITLE: Deadly Division 

AUTHOR NAME: Nathaniel Sizemore 


  FULL BOOK TITLE: The Color of Ice

AUTHOR NAME: Barbara Linn Probst 

PUBLISHER NAME: She Writes Press


AUTHOR NAME:  Kathleen Stone 

PUBLISHER NAME:  Kathleen Stone


AUTHOR NAME: Dennis Must



FULL BOOK TITLE: Those People Behind Us, a novel

AUTHOR NAME: Mary Camarillo


Andrea hahnfeld, michelle kwasniewski.

 Andrea Hahnfeld is an indie-author who enjoys creating captivating stories. Her debut short story, The Marvelous Misfits of Westminster , and children's book, The Tree and the Girl , were well-received, with the latter being a finalist for the Amazon Kindle Storyteller X Award. Andrea shares insights and tips about the writing process on her blog, reflecting her love of reading and writing. When not writing, she can be found sipping on black coffee, brainstorming her next adventure, or chasing her mischievous cats around the house. 

Vincent Howard

  Vincent Howard was born in Denver, Colorado. He was raised in San Diego, CA, graduating from Abraham Lincoln High School in 1981. He served in the United States Air Force for over 30 years and was named as one of Arizona's 25 Most Influential African-Americans in 2011. He retired in 2012 as Command Chief Master Sergeant from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. In addition to writing, he loves singing, playing the piano and learning Swahili. 

After graduating from Loyola Marymount University with a BA in Technical Theater, Michele Kwasniewski spent over fifteen years in film and television production. Starting out as a film set assistant on movies such as INDEPENDENCE DAY, FACE/OFF, PRIMAL FEAR, and EVITA. Michele eventually switched to the small screen and worked her way up the ladder to production manager, gaining experience on television shows such as BIG BROTHER, ADOPTION STORIES, EXTRA YARDAGE and MEET THE PANDAS. She is also a proud member of the Producers Guild of America. Michele's colorful experiences in the industry inspired her to write THE RISE AND FALL OF DANI TRUEHART series. Michele lives in San Clemente, California with her husband, their son, and their disobedient dachshund.

RISING STAR was awarded Finalist in the category of YOUNG ADULT FICTION for the 2021 BEST BOOK AWARDS and 2022 INTERNATONAL BOOK AWARDS. RISING STAR also was awarded Finalist in the categories of GENERAL FICTION and YOUNG ADULT FICTION in the AMERICAN FICTION AWARDS.

Joseph Moore

  Vy Lien was born in Vietnam and migrated to the United States with her mother at the young age of two. She grew up as an only child with a superhero single mother who set high examples of how to face extreme adversity, persist, and succeed even when having a delicate disposition by nature. 

Vy always was interested in human behavior and received her bachelor’s degree in psychology at University of California, Riverside. She then obtained double graduate degrees and joined the medical field as a Physician Associate. Aside from work, Vy enjoys everything culinary arts including cooking and eating home cooked food made from scratch, street food, fine dining, and cruise buffets! She also enjoys international traveling, yoga, and writing children’s fiction books. 

Now as a single mother herself to a dynamic toddler, she writes her children’s fiction books at night when the lights go out, in the dark, and when her daughter is finally asleep.  Vy’s books feature social themes that children face and also incorporate learning lessons, fun, friendship, adventures, and usually a whole lot of food! Vy reflects on the social situations that she faced as a child and writes books in hopes of helping children, including her own, bravely face and conquer social challenges. She is the author of The Nervous Noodle , the first book in the Growing Pains of the Grains series and also of The Spicy Ghost . 

 MG author Joseph L. Moore has been a storyteller since childhood. His inspiration comes from listening to his parents and their friends on Sunday evenings talk about their times growing up in the church as young kids, their joy reminiscing, and the adventures they had. Joseph wanted to share their rich history and has woven that into his new young adult coming of age novel, The Call of Jeremiah McGill, a historical fiction story with a Christian backdrop.

Joseph believes a good book is one with honesty, that shares the truth of a situation whether good or bad, and one where the reader can find themselves in the story. In The Call of Jeremiah McGill, a young boy is discovering who he is called to be in life. Joseph hopes his young readers come away from his book learning a bit about history and asking questions about Jesus and their own spirituality, and that it starts a conversation that lasts long after the book is closed.

When he isn’t writing spiritual and enlightening books for young adults, Joseph is a musician and singer and enjoys listening to soft worship music as he writes. Having grown up in the church and in faith, Joseph currently serves as a minister of music of House of Prayer, World Outreach Mission. An educator for nine years, Joseph lives in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, south of St. Louis. The Call of Jeremiah McGill is his debut novel.

Mitzy Perdue

Author, speaker, and businesswoman, Mitzi Perdue holds a BA with honors from Harvard University and an MPA from the George Washington University.  She’s a past president of the 40,000-member American Agri-Women, and  her television series, Country Magazine, was syndicated to 76 stations.

In the 1990s and early 2000s, her Scripps Howard weekly column, the Environment and You was the most widely-syndicated environmental column in the United States.

Mitzi Perdue’s biography, Mark Victor Hansen, Relentless, tells the story behind the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, and how Hansen entered the Guinness Book of World’s Records for selling half a billion books. The book provides both inspiration and encouragement for readers to make the most of their gifts.

She has an interesting lens through which to view Mark’s success. Her father was the president and co-founder of the Sheraton Hotel Chain and her husband was the chicken magnate, Frank Perdue. As someone who’s fascinated by people being all they can be, Mitzi studied what factors Mark had in common with these two mega successful men.

Every penny of the royalties from Mark Victor Hansen, Relentles s will go to support anti-trafficking efforts in Ukraine.

Barbara Linn Probst

 Barbara Linn Probst is an award-winning, Amazon best-selling author of contemporary women’s fiction living on an historic dirt road in New York’s Hudson Valley. Her acclaimed novels Queen of the Owls (2020) and The Sound Between the Notes (2021) were gold and silver medalists for prestigious national awards, including the Sarton Award for Women’s Fiction and the Nautilus Book Award. The Sound Between the Notes, recipient of a starred Kirkus review, was selected as one of the Best Indie Books of 2021. Her third novel, The Color of Ice, was released in October.

Barbara has also published over sixty essays on the craft of writing for sites such as Jane Friedman and Writer Unboxed, and given workshops and webinars for writing organizations and conferences including the Kauai Writers Conference online, the Women’s Fiction Writers Association, Writer Unboxed, Jane Friedman, and Story Circle Network. She also holds a PhD in clinical social work and is the author of two nonfiction books and numerous professional articles. Learn more on her website: 

Ron Rohrbaugh

  Ron Rohrbaugh is a professional conservation scientist and author who spent more than 25 years at Cornell University and the National Audubon Society. Ron got his love of nature through hunting, fishing, birding, and camping in the backwoods of Pennsylvania. His recent works include A Traditional Bowhunter’s Path and LIVING WILD with the Orions , an adventure/historical fiction book series that uses storytelling to teach kids and adults about nature, history, wilderness living, wild food, hunting, and more. Ron’s goal is to engage kids in exciting outdoor adventure and historical fiction that will make them want to jump out of bed to build a shelter in the backyard or get curious about the Native People who lived where they do now. Ron travels the country full-time in an RV with his family, where he’s on a mission to help save wild places, share wild food, and be every child’s gateway to nature. Don’t be alarmed if you see a family toting longbows through a campground, it’s probably Ron! Say hello and join in for some outdoor fun! Please visit  

Nathaniel Sizemore

   Nathaniel Sizemore is a graduate of Vanderbilt Law School, where he served as an Associate Editor of the Vanderbilt Law Review . After practicing at a large law firm in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, he returned to Cincinnati, Ohio, to work in his family’s business. Nathaniel lives in Fort Thomas, Kentucky, with his wife and three children. Visit his website at .  


   FULL BOOK TITLE: “Echo” Book One: LIVING WILD with the Orions

AUTHOR NAME: Ron Rohrbaugh, Jr.



Congratulations comes with the best wishes for the new adventures ahead.


2023 cbi winners and finalists.

*The number of Finalists per category is determined by the book's rating score and the number of entrants per category. They are listed in no particular order.


We the presidents: how american presidents shaped the last century.

WE THE PRESIDENTS: How American Presidents Shaped the Last Century is not a traditional presidential history. Written by former tech CEO Ronald Gruner, this history is born out of his interest in understanding how and when American politics transitioned from merely polarized to openly hostile. Beginning with Warren G. Harding in 1921 and ending with Donald Trump in 2021, Gruner examines not a single presidency but instead the development of the presidency through a century of administrations. His experience as a CEO produces a very different view of presidential history. Instead of political power, Gruner concentrates on the economic and social accomplishments over seventeen presidencies inter-connecting American history.

Growing up in Oklahoma and then living most of his adult life in Massachusetts, Gruner questioned how Americans had lost the common thread of Presidents over the last century working to build an America that represented and benefitted all. His goal was to write a history of the last century devoid of politics, political battles, and behind-the-scenes intrigue. Instead, readers will find a history of what impacted Americans and their economic well-being. WE THE PRESIDENTS discusses economic growth, personal income, income equality and taxation during each presidency and the influence those policies had through the decades on the American way of life.

About Ronald Gruner

Ronald Gruner’s experience as an accomplished executive has resulted in a different breed of presidential history. Gruner founded and served as chief executive of three successful technology firms during his long career. Taken from his business experience, WE THE PRESIDENTS focuses on results rather than politics; on economics rather than ideology, and on the interconnections linking presidential administrations rather than isolated presidencies. 


Welcome to Our website and contests are grassroots creations built with the purpose of providing an avenue of recognition and pride for authors and publishers all over the world. Our goal each year is to be the most inclusive and influential award competition available to authors and publishers worldwide. The awards and services offered through our popular website are perfect promotional vessels to help launch careers, open markets, and compete on the global stage. The  American Writing Awards team is ALWAYS here to support you, answer any questions, and provide a most fulfilling experience in whatever contest or service you decide to take advantage of. Our contests are unique as they offer small presses, academic presses, micro presses, self-publishers, and even "Big 5" publishers and authors a chance to compete in the same arena for the same prize, entry fees are kept low--well below the industry standard for competitions of a similar caliber, there are multiple categories for entry--any author or publisher can nominate one or more of their books for an award, in multiple categories--a full list of American Writing Awards categories can be found below or on page 3 of the entry form, unpublished manuscripts are allowed entry--a great way to increase your book’s chances of future publishing offers, and all entrants submit their book digitally, as a PDF or eBook--avoiding the expenses and headaches of traditional mail. Our team of expert judges--Industry Professionals, Authors, College Professors--assesses your work in a fair and competent manner. Entries are judged based on multiple writing skills, which include an author's story-telling ability, transitions, hooks, pacing, character development, dialogue, grammar, punctuation, and overall impact. We are your chance to get noticed and we are dedicated to awarding excellence. You’ve put tremendous time and energy into your work--by winning our awards, you permanently build your credibility as an established author. Sign up now and get your work the attention it deserves.

*Did you know? The American Writing Awards has THREE unique categories for OLDER books?--the Legacy Fiction, Legacy Nonfiction, and Legacy Children's Book categories accept books older than four years. Give your timeless book a chance at an award. 

*Did you know? Finalists from previous years can enter the AWAs. Give your book a second shot at greatness.

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*Did you know? "Book of the Year" recipients, Category Winners, and Finalists receive a 1-month long social-media ad campaign highlighting their successes following the year's AWAs.


Did you know? The American Writing Awards has THREE unique categories for OLDER books?--the Legacy Fiction, Legacy Nonfiction, and Legacy Children's Book categories accept books older than four years. Give your timeless book a chance at an award.

 Did you know? Finalists from previous years can enter. Give your book a second shot at greatness.

  Check out our NEW full list of categories.     

· Animals/Pets   – General

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Please reach us at [email protected] if you cannot find an answer to your question.

No. The American Writing Awards, the Hawthorne Prize, and Children's Book International are separate contests with different categorical structures and award distributions.  

Works are submitted through our easy nomination process by simply following the submission guidelines on the contest entry form. Entry forms can be found on the designated contest pages. 

International books may enter any of the competitions as long as the book is primarily written in English.

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"Still on Cloud 9 about having my book selected as WINNER of one of the three History categories by the 2022 American Writing Awards. The amazing story of the C.R. Patterson and Sons Company—the first Black automobile manufacturers—is taking me places that I never could have imagined. I can’t wait to share the story on the big screen."

Christopher Nelson, author of The C.R. Patterson and Sons Company:  Black Pioneers in the Building Industry, 1865-1939

"I feel honored to have been chosen as a Hawthorne Prize shortlister, especially with my novel being about a young Filipino-American girl, as in not super mainstream. It speaks volumes about the respect that your judging panel has for diversity in stories and in writers. I am so grateful for this opportunity!" 

Maritza Refuerzo, Author of Groovy Girl 


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Writing Contests, Grants & Awards

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  • G&A: The Contest Blog

The Writing Contests, Grants & Awards database includes details about the creative writing contests—including poetry contests, short story competitions, essay contests, awards for novels, and more—that we’ve published in Poets & Writers Magazine during the past year. We carefully review the practices and policies of each contest before including it. Ours is the most trusted resource for legitimate writing contests available anywhere.

Southern Poetry Review

Guy owen prize.

A prize of $1,000 and publication in Southern Poetry Review is given annually for a single poem. Submit three to five poems totaling no more than 10 pages with a $20...

Autumn House Press

Literary prizes.

Three prizes of $1,000 each and publication by Autumn House Press are given annually for a poetry collection, a book of fiction, and a book of creative nonfiction. Each winner...

The Center for Fiction

Susan kamil emerging writer fellowships.

Nine fellowships of $5,000 each, a one-year membership to the Center for Fiction in New York City, and a year of access to the Writers Studio writing space at the center are...

Anhinga Press

Anhinga prize for poetry.

A prize of $2,000, publication by Anhinga Press, and 25 author copies is given annually for a poetry collection. Octavio Quintanilla will judge. Submit a manuscript of 48 to...

Bridport Arts Centre

Bridport prizes.

Two prizes of £5,000 (approximately $6,034) each and publication in the Bridport Prize anthology are given annually for a poem and a short story. A second-place prize of £1,000...

Milkweed Editions

Max ritvo poetry prize.

A prize of $10,000 and publication by Milkweed Editions is given annually for a debut poetry collection by a U.S. poet. Louise Glück will judge. Using only the online...

BOA Editions

Short fiction prize.

A prize of $1,000 and publication by BOA Editions is given annually for a story collection. BOA publisher Peter Conners will judge. Submit a manuscript of 90 to 200 pages with...

University of Georgia Press

Flannery o’connor award for short fiction.

A prize of $1,000 and publication by University of Georgia Press is given annually for a collection of short fiction. Lori Ostlund will judge. Using only the online submission...

Elixir Press

Fiction award.

A prize of $2,000, publication by Elixir Press, and 25 author copies is given annually for a story collection or a novel. Kirk Wilson will judge. Using only the online...

American Short Fiction

Halifax ranch fiction prize.

A prize of $2,500 and publication in American Short Fiction is given annually for a short story. The winner also receives a weeklong, all-expenses-paid writing retreat...

Bard College

Bard fiction prize.

A prize of $30,000 and a one-semester appointment as writer-in-residence at Bard College is given annually to a U.S. fiction writer under the age of 40. The recipient must give...

Emerging Poets Contest

A prize of $1,000 and publication in Boulevard is given annually for a group of poems by a poet who has not published a poetry collection with a nationally distributed...

Fiction Prize

A prize of $1,000 and publication in Salamander is given annually for a short story. Kirstin Valdez Quade will judge. Using only the online submission system, submit a...

PEN America

Pen/jean stein grants for literary oral history.

Two grants of $15,000 are given annually for nonfiction works-in-progress that “use oral history to illuminate an event, individual, place, or movement.” Using only the online...

PEN/Heim Translation Fund Grants

Ten grants between $3,000-$4,000 each are given annually to support the translation of book-length works of poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction that have not previously...

Western Connecticut State University

Housatonic book awards.

Three prizes of $1,000 each are given annually for books of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction published in the previous year. The winners also receive $500 in travel expenses to...

Omnidawn Publishing

Chapbook contest.

A prize of $1,000, publication by Omnidawn Publishing, and 20 author copies is given annually for a poetry chapbook. Brody Parrish Craig will judge. Using only the online...

University of Akron Press

Akron poetry prize.

A prize of $1,500 and publication by University of Akron Press is given annually for a poetry collection. Sandra Beasley will judge. Using only the online submission system,...

New American Press

New american fiction prize.

A prize of $1,500, publication by New American Press, and 25 author copies is given annually for a book of fiction. Gabriel Bump will judge. Using only the online submission...

42 Miles Press

42 miles poetry award.

A prize of $1,000, publication by 42 Miles Press, and 50 author copies is given annually for a poetry collection. Current and former students of Indiana University South Bend...

Towson University

Prize for literature.

A prize of $1,000 is given annually for a book of poetry, fiction, or creative nonfiction by a current resident of Maryland who has lived in the state for at least three years...

Bitter Oleander Press

Library of poetry award.

A prize of $1,500 and publication by Bitter Oleander Press is given annually for a poetry collection. Submit a manuscript of 48 to 80 pages with a $28 entry fee between May 1...

Great Lakes Colleges Association

New writers awards.

Three prizes are given annually for first books by a poet, a fiction writer, and a creative nonfiction writer. The winners each receive an all-expenses-paid trip to several of...

Lascaux Review

Prize in flash fiction.

A prize of $1,000 and publication in Lascaux Review online and in print is given annually for a work of flash fiction. Previously published stories are eligible. Using...

Anthology Magazine

Poetry competition.

A prize of €1,000 (approximately $1,072) and publication in, plus a subscription to, Anthology Magazine will be given annually for a single poem. Rachael Hegarty will...


WINNERS for the 2021 Romantic Novel Awards

Book covers and profile pics of the w RONA 2021 winners

The RNA announces WINNERS for the 2021 Romantic Novel Awards

Mike Gayle presented with Outstanding Achievement A ward

Romantic Novel Awards 2021 logo

MONDAY 8 th  March 2021: We are delighted to announce the winners for our prestigious 2021 Romantic Novel Awards , and Mike Gayle was presented with an Outstanding Achievement Award, in recognition of his extraordinary contribution to the field of romantic fiction.

Actor Larry Lamb revealed the winners of each category in an online event, compèred by author and broadcaster Jane Wenham-Jones.

The RNA’s awards are the only national literary prizes that recognise excellence in the genre of romantic fiction. In 2021 they comprise the Goldsboro Books Contemporary Romantic Novel Award, the Goldsboro Books Historical Romantic Novel Award, the Romantic Comedy Novel Award, the Sapere Books Popular Romantic Fiction Award, the Jackie Collins Award for Romantic Thrillers, the Romantic Saga Award, the Fantasy Romantic Novel Award, the Libertà Shorter Romantic Novel Award and the Katie Fforde Debut Romantic Novel Award.

RNA Chair Imogen Howson said, “In a year when we have had to deal with anxiety, isolation, lockdowns, and some very surprising product shortages, romantic fiction has remained a source of escapism and comfort – an almost literal lifeline.

The Romantic Novel Awards showcase some of the very best of romantic fiction, and I am delighted and proud to be part of an industry that gives so much happiness to so many people.”

To watch a recording of the 2021 Awards – click here . 

Romantic Novel of the Year Category Winners

Clare Pooley,  The Authenticity Project , Bantam Press Winner,  The Katie Fforde Debut Romantic Novel Award (for the best romantic novel by a first-time author)

Kate Hardy,  A Will, a Wish and a Wedding , Mills & Boon True Love Winner,  The Libertà Books Shorter Romantic Novel Award (for the best shorter romantic novel)

Shirley Mann,  Bobby’s War , Zaffre, Bonnier Books UK Winner,  The Romantic Saga Award (for the best romantic novel featuring saga elements of characters overcoming social adversity, usually set in the past)

Carole Matthews,  Sunny Days and Sea Breezes,  Sphere, Little, Brown Winner,  The Romantic Comedy Novel Award (for the best romantic novel with consistent wit and humour)

Louise Douglas,  The House by the Sea , Boldwood Books Winner,  The Jackie Collins Romantic Thriller Award (for the best romantic novel with thriller, mystery, crime or suspense elements)

Christina Courtenay,  Echoes of the Runes , Headline Review Winner,  The Fantasy Romantic Novel Award (for the best romantic novel that includes paranormal or speculative elements)

Milly Johnson,  My One True North , Simon & Schuster Winner,  The Goldsboro Books Contemporary Romantic Novel Award (for the best romantic novel set in the present world or society)

Catherine Tinley,  Rags-to-Riches Wife , Mills & Boon Historical Winner,  The Goldsboro Books Historical Romantic Novel Award (for novels set in a period before 1970)

Julie Houston,  Sing Me a Secret , Aria, Head of Zeus Winner,  The Sapere Books Popular Romantic Fiction Award (for the most commercially successful and popular romantic novel of 2020 as voted for by book bloggers, librarians and booksellers)

Outstanding Achievement Award

Mike Gayle was born and raised in Birmingham. After graduating from Salford University with a degree in Sociology, he moved to London to pursue a career in journalism and worked as a features editor and agony uncle. He has written for a variety of publications including  The Sunday Times, the Guardian  and  Cosmopolitan .

Mike became a full-time novelist in 1997 following the publication of his  Sunday Times  top ten bestseller  My Legendary Girlfriend , hailed by  The   Independent  as ‘full of belly laughs and painfully acute observations’, and by  The Times  as ‘a funny, frank account of a hopeless romantic’. He has since written fifteen novels, including  The Man I Think I Know , selected as a World Book Night title, and  Half A World Away , selected for the Richard and Judy Book Club. His books have been translated into more than thirty languages. He lives in Birmingham with his wife, children and greyhound.

RNA President Katie Fforde said of the 2021 Outstanding Achievement Award recipient, “Mike Gayle is a writer who isn’t afraid to tackle the difficult subjects and does it with the same skill and storytelling ability that his more conventional stories have.  He never lets his reader down.”

Since its inception in 1960 the RNA has promoted excellence in romantic fiction and RNA Chair, Imogen Howson, commented, “This year’s shortlists showcase, yet again, the wonderful variety of romantic fiction, with books from publishers large and small, from some authors who are household names and others who may well be the next big thing. In difficult times, the sales of romantic fiction rise, and these books—with all their humour, drama, excitement, and romance—remind us exactly why.”

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Book News & Features

Romance writers of america was doing better with race — until a recent award choice.

Karen Grigsby Bates

At Love's Command, by Karen Witemeyer

There is a saying a friend with Louisiana roots has about people who keep doing the same thing, even while that keeps yielding less-than-felicitous results. Those people, my friend says, are " stuck on stupid ."

Romance Writers of America, the trade organization for writers specializing in the romance genre, must be feeling that way right about now. After a stretch of racial reckoning over the organization's lack of diversity in both leadership and awardees , RWA reconfigured its board and vowed to do better.

And it has, somewhat. The board is more diverse now than it was. More attention is being paid to writers of color. If the improvements didn't have a rocketlike trajectory, they were moving in the right direction.

And the Vivian Award goes to ...

And then came this year's inaugural Vivian awards. The Vivians (formerly known as the RITAs) are, according to RWA, "the highest award of distinction in romance fiction" in several categories. Past recipients include bestsellers Nora Roberts and Susan Elizabeth Phillips. And while no Black author won a RITA until Kennedy Ryan in 2019 (the last year the prize was awarded before the name was retired), two prominent Black authors — historical romance writer Beverly Jenkins and contemporary romance writer Brenda Jackson — have each received a coveted Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement Award (in 2017 and 2012, respectively).

Racism Scandal In The Romance Writing Industry

NPR's Book of the Day

Your support helps make our show possible and unlocks access to our sponsor-free feed.

Book News & Features

Romance writers of america leadership resigns.

Consider This from NPR

This year, the Vivian in the "Romance with Religious or Spiritual Elements" category was awarded to Karen Witemeyer for At Love's Command , and a number of its critics thought RWA was Stuck on Stupid again. Witemeyer's book, says Religion News Service , "opens with a depiction of the Wounded Knee Massacre that some readers and authors have criticized as romanticizing the killing of Native Americans." The love interest, an officer in the 7th Cavalry, commands the Lakota Sioux to put down their weapons, citing Scripture as his rationale . When a religious leader from the tribe begins chanting, a shot goes off (on purpose? by accident? from whose side?), the order to fire is issued and scores of men, women and children are slaughtered. Then the hero asks God's forgiveness and, eventually, claims his woman.

Critics say the choice glorifies genocide

The irony of the choice did not escape several who took to social media to protest: On Twitter, author Jenny Hartwell shared an email she sent to RWA board members : "Romances have flawed heroes and heroines who find redemption through the transformative power of love. However, aren't there some people who shouldn't be redeemed? Nazis. Slave owners. Soldiers who commit genocide." Hartwell continued: "Can this author write this story? Absolutely. Free speech is important. But should our organization give this story its highest award? Absolutely not."

Others resigned their membership in RWA . One member, Bronwyn Parry, served as a judge for the Vivians. "I had high hopes for the VIVIAN award and the strategies for cultural change that the RWA Board have put in place over the past two years," Parry said in a statement on her website . She expressed pleasure at the diversity of the offerings in the category she was judging — a stated goal of the awards — but was dismayed when all the finalists in that category were (including her) white women writing heterosexual characters. When At Love's Command was named a winner, she asked that her book be withdrawn from final consideration and her name removed from the finalists' list.

The Vivians were in fact named for RWA founder Vivian L. Stephens , an African American with publishing experience who founded romance lines for Dell in the late 1970s and Harlequin in the early 1980s that aimed to reflect all of America. That one of the current awards honoring Stephens' work should be bestowed on a romance that begins with the shedding of Indigenous blood (and in a year in which the revelations of hundreds of Indigenous deaths in Canada and some in the U.S. at so-called Indian boarding schools have shocked North America) — it's almost too much for some .

RWA rescinds the award ... but what's next?

After a few days of controversy, RWA rescinded the Vivian for At Love's Command . "RWA is in full support of First Amendment rights," said the organization in a statement; "however, as an organization that continually strives to improve our support of marginalized authors, we cannot in good conscience uphold the decision of the judges in voting to celebrate a book that depicts the inhumane treatment of indigenous people and romanticizes real world tragedies that still affect people to this day. RWA is rescinding the Vivian awarded to the book finalist 'At Love's Command.' "

As a number of tweets since this latest controversy exploded might indicate, RWA is still pretty stuck. Going forward, RWA's members and others will be watching to see if the organization can pull itself out of that rut.

Correction Aug. 6, 2021

An earlier version of this story misattributed a quote to The Washington Post . The quote is from Religion News Service.

Clarification: Author Bronwyn Parry's statement about all award finalists being white women referred specifically to books in the category she was judging.

2020 Goodreads Choice Awards

From Blood and Ash by Jennifer L. Armentrout

All Nominees • 391,606 votes total

Beach Read by Emily Henry

2020 Rules & Eligibility

The 2020 Goodreads Choice Awards have three rounds of voting open to all registered Goodreads members. Winners will be announced December 08, 2020.

Opening Round: Oct 27 - Nov 08

Voting opens to 15 official nominees, and write-in votes can be placed for any eligible book (see eligibility below).

Semifinal Round: Nov 10 - 15

The top five write-in votes in each of the categories become official nominees. Additional write-ins no longer accepted.

Final Round: Nov 17 - 30

The field narrows to the top 10 books in each category, and members have one last chance to vote!

2020 Eligibility

Books published in the United States in English, including works in translation and other significant rereleases, between November 16, 2019, and November 17, 2020, are eligible for the 2020 Goodreads Choice Awards. Books published between November 18, 2020, and November 17, 2021, will be eligible for the 2021 awards.

We analyze statistics from the millions of books added, rated, and reviewed on Goodreads to nominate 15 books in each category. Opening round official nominees must have an average rating of 3.50 or higher at the time of launch. Write-in votes may be cast for eligible books with any average rating, and write-in votes will be weighted by the book's Goodreads statistics to determine the top five books to be added as official nominees in the Semifinal Round. A book may be nominated in no more than one genre category, but can also be nominated in the Debut Novel category. Only one book in a series may be nominated per category. An author may receive multiple nominations within a single category if he or she has more than one eligible series or more than one eligible stand-alone book.

Welcome back. Just a moment while we sign you in to your Goodreads account.

romance writing awards

The Best Writing Contests of 2023

Writing competitions curated by Reedsy

Flash Fiction


Science Fiction

Script Writing

Short Story

Manage a competition? Submit it here

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Showing 583 contests

The reedsy prompts contest.

Every Friday, Reedsy sends out five writing prompts. Enter your response within a week for a chance at $250. Winners may also be included in a future issue of Reedsy’s literary magazine, Prompted.

Additional prizes

$25 credit toward Reedsy editorial services

Entry requirements

Deadline: December 31, 2023

Fiction, Short Story

African Diaspora Award

Kinsman Avenue Publishing, Inc.

Submissions are open for Kinsman Quarterly’s African Diaspora Award. Top winners receive prizes up to $500 USD and publication within the Black Diaspora anthology. No entry fee required. Those eligible should submit an original, unpublished work in English that features themes of the African diaspora by July 15, 2023.

2nd: $250 | 3rd: $100 + Publication

💰 Fee: FREE

Deadline: July 15, 2023

Crime, Essay, Fantasy, Fiction, Flash Fiction, Horror, Memoir, Mystery, Non-fiction, Poetry, Romance, Script Writing, Short Story, Young Adult

7 Day Story Writing Challenge

Register now for our next 7-day story writing challenge. A secret theme, a randomly assigned genre and just 7 days to write a story of no more than 2,000 words. Our 7 day story writing challenges take place throughout the year. The challenges are free and you can even get feedback on your story. Take part in one challenge or take part in all of them!

Deadline: July 09, 2023

Fiction, Flash Fiction, Short Story

Ovacome Writing Competition 2023

The theme for the 2023 Ovacome Writing Competition is 'Between'. This theme can be interpreted in many different ways - the possibilities are endless! Your short story does not have to be about health or ovarian cancer.

Runner up: £50 Waterstones book voucher

Deadline: September 15, 2023

Novella Competition

Weatherglass Books

Write a work of literary fiction of novella length (20k-40k words) and be published by Weatherglass Books. Ali Smith will judge the short list.

Advance of £1000 | Published by Autumn 2024

Deadline: August 31, 2023

Fiction, Novella

Fiction Factory Short Story Competition

Fiction Factory

This competition is held twice-yearly. Entries are welcomed from all over the world from writers aged 16 and above. Stories may be on any theme. Sadly we do not accept YA or children's fiction.

Deadline: October 31, 2023

Fiction Factory Flash Fiction

This is an international competition, open to writers from all over the world over the age of 16. Stories may be on any theme but we sadly do not accept YA or Children's stories.

Deadline: July 31, 2023

Fiction, Flash Fiction, Crime, Horror, Humor, Mystery, Science Fiction, Thriller

SciFidea Award

Singapore-based SciFidea is inviting writers to submit their sci-fi stories set on or in a Dyson Sphere for a chance to win a grand prize of $20,000! The judges are seasoned veterans within the industry who have devoted many years to the science fiction genre and have been honored with prestigious awards such as the Hugo Award.

$20,000 x 10 winners

Competition 16

Free Flash Fiction

The Bi-monthly Free Flash Fiction Competition promotes the work of flash fiction authors. The winner of the current competition will be invited to be the judge for the next competition. Submit a flash fiction piece between 100 and 300 words, on any theme.

2x Highly Recommended £30.00 | 2x Shortlisted £20

Deadline: June 23, 2023

The Letter Review Prize for Flash Fiction

Letter Review

The Letter Review Prize for Flash Fiction (up to 1000 words) is open to writers from anywhere in the world and has no theme or genre restrictions. Winners are published and every entry is considered for publication. 20 entries are Longlisted.

2nd: $250 | 3rd: $150

Deadline: June 30, 2023

The Letter Review Prize for Poetry

The Letter Review Prize for Poetry (up to 70 lines) is open to writers from anywhere in the world and has no style or subject restrictions. Winners are published and every entry is considered for publication. 20 entries are Longlisted.

2nd $250 | 3rd: $150

Letter Review Prize for Short Stories

The Letter Review Prize for Short Stories (1000-3000 words) is open to writers from anywhere in the world and has no theme or genre restrictions. Winners are published and every entry is considered for publication. 20 entries are Longlisted.

Caledonia Novel Award

Now in our 10th year of competition, we are an Edinburgh-based, international award for unpublished and self-published novelists in all genres for adults and YA. This year’s judge is Ariella Feiner, literary agent at United Agents. As well as the top prizes, the writer of the best entry from the UK & Ireland wins a free place on a writing course at Moniack Mhor Creative Writing Centre.

Highly Commended novel wins £500

Deadline: November 01, 2023

Fiction, Novel, Young Adult

The Heartland Review Open Calls

The Heartland Review Press

Submit one piece of fiction or creative nonfiction of topic or category to include flash in a Word document through Submittable (link on website). No pdfs. Include a short cover letter and bio. Simultaneous submissions accepted, but writers must withdraw if published elsewhere. We read the first 50 pieces of fiction and 50 of creative nonfiction submitted each month during the open call.


Deadline: November 15, 2023

Essay, Fantasy, Fiction, Flash Fiction, Horror, Humor, Memoir, Mystery, Non-fiction, Science Fiction, Short Story, Thriller, Young Adult

Joy Bale Boone Poetry Prize

Submit 1-3 poems of any form or style for $10 in a Word document through Submittable (link on website). No pdfs. Include a cover letter in the same file. The cover letter should be the first page in the file and contain mailing address, email, and 30-40 word bio. Simultaneous submissions accepted, but poems placed elsewhere will not be included in contest. Finalists (there's usually about 20) who provide a United States Postal Address will receive a free copy of the Spring 2024 issue of The Heartland Review wherein winners and finalists will be published. All entrants, regardless of publication, can receive a discount on the publication cost.

Hastings Book Festival - Short Story

Hastings Book Festival

Short Story Competition judged by VG Lee. Enter a short story in with any theme within a 2500 word limit.

2nd: £100 | 3rd: £50

Deadline: July 14, 2023

Raymond Carver Short Story Contest

Carve Magazine

The Raymond Carver Short Story Contest is one of the most renowned fiction contests in the world. Featuring prominent guest judges and offering $3000 across five prizes, the contest delivers exciting new fiction from writers all over the world.

2nd: $500 | 3rd: $250 | 2x $125 (Editor's Choice)

Deadline: May 17, 2023 (Expired)

Drue Heinz Literature Prize

University of Pittsburgh Press

The Drue Heinz Literature Prize recognizes and supports writers of short fiction and makes their work available to readers around the world. The award is open to authors who have published a book-length collection of fiction or at least three short stories or novellas in commercial magazines or literary journals.

Publication by the University of Pittsburgh Press

Seán O'Faoláin International Short Story Competition

Munster Literature Centre

The competition is open to original, unpublished and unbroadcast short stories in the English language of 3,000 words or fewer. The story can be on any subject, in any style, by a writer of any nationality, living anywhere in the world.

Residency at Anam Cara Retreat, Featured reading at the Cork International Short Story Festival, Publication in Southword

Fiction, Non-fiction, Short Story

George Dila Memorial Flash Fiction Contest

Third Wednesday

The editors of Third Wednesday wish to honor the memory of George Dila, friend of Third Wednesday and the editor who originally brought fiction to 3W. To this end, we proudly announce the opening of The George Dila Memorial Flash Fiction Contest. We accept entries of previously unpublished stories of under 1000 words in length (including title).

100 x3 Winning Stories

Publication in Third Wednesday magazine

Deadline: August 15, 2023

Fiction, Flash Fiction

TWFest Very Short Fiction Contest

Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival

A submission is one original short story, written in English, up to 1,000 words. This contest is open only to emerging writers who have not yet published a book of short fiction with an ISBN.

VIP all-access pass to the next festival, where you will give a public reading.

Deadline: October 15, 2023

TWFest Poetry Contest

Submit a collection of 2-4 original, unpublished poems of any style or theme, written in English, with a combined length of up to 400 lines. This contest is open only to emerging writers who have not yet published a book of poetry with an ISBN. Those who have published books in other genres besides poetry remain eligible.

VIP Festival pass ($600 value)

TWFest One-Act Play Contest

Plays should run no more than one hour in length (one act or approx. 60 pages.) This contest is for emerging or previously unpublished playwrights.

Professional Staged Reading at the next Festival

Deadline: October 01, 2023

TWFest Fiction Contest

A submission is one original short story, written in English, up to 7,000 words. This contest is open only to writers who have not yet published a book of fiction. Published books include self-published books with ISBN numbers. Those who have published books in other genres besides fiction remain eligible.

Airfare, accommodation, and all-access pass to the next Festival, where you will give a public reading.

Memo'd Write to Win

The Memo'd ""Write To Win"" contest is for new writers who have something to say, and who like saying it succinctly. A Memo is a shareable and bulleted essay of 300-800 words - think Twitter threads without the noise of Twitter. A Memo can be a: 1) Profile of a famous person 2) Summary of classic or new book 3) Point of view or opinion pieces 4) Revelation (e.g. career insights.) Just make it interesting! If you love writing, but don't want to write a whole book or long article, Memo'd may be for you.

$750 For Most Engaging Memo

$750 For Most Read Memo | $500 Editor's Pick

Deadline: May 31, 2023

Elegant Literature's Contest For New Writers

Elegant Literature

One of the largest awards open to unpublished writers, and the only one closed to professionals. We are the first magazine to pay pro rates and only accept submissions from new writers, paying new authors over $50,000 last year. One new writer receives the grand prize. We also choose the best stories, pay the authors above-professional rates, and publish them in our magazine. May's head judge is Richie Billing of The Fantasy Writer's Toolshed.

Paid publication, 25 x $20 USD | Free entry to Novelist Accelerator | Now Novel Package

Deadline: June 01, 2023

Crime, Fantasy, Fiction, Horror, Humor, Mystery, Romance, Science Fiction, Short Story, Thriller, Young Adult, Flash Fiction, Science Writing


We are excited to introduce the 2023 MONO. Poetry Prize judged by Instagram poet and influencer, Blake Auden. This year we are offering the highest prize fund to date, and one of the largest prizes for a single poem in the UK. We're looking for your short-form poetry - send us your Haikus, Sonnets, Tankas, Acrostics, Limericks and any other short-form poem up to 14 lines. The theme is 'BEAT' - which is open to wide interpretation. Please be as creative as you wish. You can enter up to five poems at a cost of £6 per poem (just adjust the quantity at checkout if necessary). There will be a number of sponsored entries for those in financial difficulty. Please email for info, they will be offered on a first come basis and no proof will be required.

2nd: £200 | 3rd: £100

Deadline: August 01, 2023

2023 Black Voices in Children's Literature

Free Spirit Publishing

The contest is open to Black authors who at the time of entry are at least 18 years of age and residing anywhere in the United States. As always, the contest’s mission is to elevate authentic, culturally relevant children’s stories written by and about Black people. Every entry is considered for publication and three cash prizes will be awarded. Eligible entries will include original children’s books for ages 0–4 (50–125 words) or for ages 4–8 (300–800 words) featuring authentic, realistic Black characters and culture and focusing on one or more of the following topics: character development, self-esteem, identity, diversity, getting along with others, engaging with family and community, or other topics related to positive childhood development.

2nd: $500 | 3rd: $250 | Meeting with editors, tote bag, tshirt

Deadline: July 24, 2023

Fiction, Short Story, Non-fiction

Sunspot Literary Journal

Sunspot Lit seeks one short story, CNF, artwork, poem, graphic novel, script, or excerpt that outshines the rest. Literary and genre works accepted. Feedback available for additional fee. See guidelines for details. Enter through Sunspot’s Submittable or through Duotrope.

Essay, Fiction, Flash Fiction, Memoir, Non-fiction, Poetry, Script Writing, Short Story

Salamander 2023 Fiction Prize

Judged by Kirstin Valdez Quade. All entries will be considered for publication. All entries will be considered anonymously. Send no more than one story per entry. Each story must not exceed 30 double-spaced pages in 12 point font. Contest reading fee of $15 includes a one-year subscription.

$1000 + Publication

Second Prize: $500 and Publication

The Paul Cave Prize for Literature

Tim Saunders Publications

The Paul Cave Prize for Literature, established in 2023 by Tim Saunders Publications, is in memory of Paul Astley Cave-Browne-Cave (1917 to 2010), a hugely inspirational magazine and book publisher. What we are looking for All forms of poetry: haiku, free verse, sonnet, acrostic, villanelle, ballad, limerick, ode, elegy, flash fiction, short stories and novellas. Work must be new and unpublished. International submissions welcome.

Best Short Story: £50 | Best Flash Fiction: £25 | Best Poem: £25

Deadline: September 30, 2023

Crime, Fantasy, Fiction, Flash Fiction, Horror, Humor, Mystery, Novella, Poetry, Romance, Science Fiction, Short Story, Thriller, Young Adult

Quill and Keyboard Teen International Writing Competition

Quills and Keyboard

We are made of students hosting a contest for teen & YA authors. There are 15 categories, from journalism to a section for novelists’ favorite chapters. Qualified judges will send feedback on each piece. We partnered with many writing organizations such as Teen Author Boot Camp and Newpages and recognized by non-profits such as Polyphony Lit.

Publication in Under the Madness and Skipping Stones

Deadline: May 20, 2023 (Expired)

Essay, Fantasy, Fiction, Flash Fiction, Horror, Humor, Memoir, Non-fiction, Novella, Poetry, Science Fiction, Science Writing, Script Writing, Short Story, Thriller, Young Adult

The Contest offers monthly contests for poets worldwide to gain motivation, inspiration and exposure, while building passion and enjoyment for the written creative process! How are winners chosen? Our contest boasts a clever twist: poems remain anonymous whilst applicants vote on what they believe should be the winning entry.

2nd place: 300 USD | 3rd place: 200 USD | Runner up personalized mug

2024 Book Prize

Unleash Press

Writers are invited to submit novels, short story collections and creative nonfiction manuscripts. The Editors' Prize winner receives a publication contract with Unleash Press and $1000 prize, along with 10 printed copies of the final book. We may also offer publication contracts to additional outstanding manuscripts.

Publishing contract

Deadline: December 15, 2023

Essay, Fiction, Flash Fiction, Memoir, Novel, Short Story, Non-fiction

The Bedford Competition

Short stories, any theme up to 3000 words. Poems up to 40 lines. Judges: short story Tim Jarvis, poetry Kirsten Norrie/MacGillvray.

2nd: £300 | 3rd: £200

Poetry, Short Story

Discover the finest writing contests of 2023 for fiction and non-fiction authors — including short story competitions, essay writing competitions, poetry contests, and many more. Updated weekly, these contests are vetted by Reedsy to weed out the scammers and time-wasters. If you’re looking to stick to free writing contests, simply use our filters as you browse.

Why you should submit to writing contests

Submitting to poetry competitions and free writing contests in 2023 is absolutely worth your while as an aspiring author: just as your qualifications matter when you apply for a new job, a writing portfolio that boasts published works and award-winning pieces is a great way to give your writing career a boost. And not to mention the bonus of cash prizes!

That being said, we understand that taking part in writing contests can be tough for emerging writers. First, there’s the same affliction all writers face: lack of time or inspiration. Entering writing contests is a time commitment, and many people decide to forego this endeavor in order to work on their larger projects instead — like a full-length book. Second, for many writers, the chance of rejection is enough to steer them clear of writing contests. 

But we’re here to tell you that two of the great benefits of entering writing contests happen to be the same as those two reasons to avoid them.

When it comes to the time commitment: yes, you will need to expend time and effort in order to submit a quality piece of writing to competitions. That being said, having a hard deadline to meet is a great motivator for developing a solid writing routine.

Think of entering contests as a training session to become a writer who will need to meet deadlines in order to have a successful career. If there’s a contest you have your eye on, and the deadline is in one month, sit down and realistically plan how many words you’ll need to write per day in order to meet that due date — and don’t forget to also factor in the time you’ll need to edit your story!

For tips on setting up a realistic writing plan, check out this free, ten-day course: How to Build a Rock-Solid Writing Routine.

In regards to the fear of rejection, the truth is that any writer aspiring to become a published author needs to develop relatively thick skin. If one of your goals is to have a book traditionally published, you will absolutely need to learn how to deal with rejection, as traditional book deals are notoriously hard to score. If you’re an indie author, you will need to adopt the hardy determination required to slowly build up a readership.

The good news is that there’s a fairly simple trick for learning to deal with rejection: use it as a chance to explore how you might be able to improve your writing.

In an ideal world, each rejection from a publisher or contest would come with a detailed letter, offering construction feedback and pointing out specific tips for improvement. And while this is sometimes the case, it’s the exception and not the rule.

Still, you can use the writing contests you don’t win as a chance to provide yourself with this feedback. Take a look at the winning and shortlisted stories and highlight their strong suits: do they have fully realized characters, a knack for showing instead of telling, a well-developed but subtly conveyed theme, a particularly satisfying denouement?

The idea isn’t to replicate what makes those stories tick in your own writing. But most examples of excellent writing share a number of basic craft principles. Try and see if there are ways for you to translate those stories’ strong points into your own unique writing.

Finally, there are the more obvious benefits of entering writing contests: prize and publication. Not to mention the potential to build up your readership, connect with editors, and gain exposure.

Resources to help you win writing competitions in 2023

Every writing contest has its own set of submission rules. Whether those rules are dense or sparing, ensure that you follow them to a T. Disregarding the guidelines will not sway the judges’ opinion in your favor — and might disqualify you from the contest altogether. 

Aside from ensuring you follow the rules, here are a few resources that will help you perfect your submissions.

Free online courses

On Writing:

How to Craft a Killer Short Story

The Non-Sexy Business of Writing Non-Fiction

How to Write a Novel

Understanding Point of View

Developing Characters That Your Readers Will Love

Writing Dialogue That Develops Plot and Character

Stop Procrastinating! Build a Solid Writing Routine

On Editing:

Story Editing for Authors

How to Self-Edit Like a Pro

Novel Revision: Practical Tips for Rewrites

How to Write a Short Story in 7 Steps

How to Write a Novel in 15 Steps

Literary Devices and Terms — 35+ Definitions With Examples

10 Essential Fiction Writing Tips to Improve Your Craft

How to Write Dialogue: 8 Simple Rules and Exercises

8 Character Development Exercises to Help You Nail Your Character

Bonus resources

200+ Short Story Ideas

600+ Writing Prompts to Inspire You

100+ Creative Writing Exercises for Fiction Authors

Story Title Generator

Pen Name Generator

Character Name Generator

After you submit to a writing competition in 2023

It’s exciting to send a piece of writing off to a contest. However, once the initial excitement wears off, you may be left waiting for a while. Some writing contests will contact all entrants after the judging period — whether or not they’ve won. Other writing competitions will only contact the winners. 

Here are a few things to keep in mind after you submit:

Many writing competitions don’t have time to respond to each entrant with feedback on their story. However, it never hurts to ask! Feel free to politely reach out requesting feedback — but wait until after the selection period is over.

If you’ve submitted the same work to more than one writing competition or literary magazine, remember to withdraw your submission if it ends up winning elsewhere.

After you send a submission, don’t follow it up with a rewritten or revised version. Instead, ensure that your first version is thoroughly proofread and edited. If not, wait until the next edition of the contest or submit the revised version to other writing contests.

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