[Updated 15 August 2018: At the time this post was written in 2015, the Melita Hume Prize was free to enter. In 2018 there is now a submission charge. Please note that at the time Leilanie Stewart was longlisted for the Melita Hume Prize in 2014, and Joseph Robert longlisted for the Melita Hume Prize in 2015, there were no submission fees to enter.]
As I have said before in previous posts, competitions are a great starting point for a novice writer or another chance to build your CV/resume if you are already established. I’m always in favour of entering free competitions. The only cost will be your time in terms of selecting your best work, editing and submitting it. Are competitions worth it? Last year when I entered the Melita Hume prize, although I didn’t win, I was longlisted which meant another opportunity arose; the chance to be published in a pamphlet series run by the same publisher. If you enter competitions, you will get exposure for your work even if you haven’t won cash prizes…and IMHO that is a bigger winner. After all, the ultimate goal for any writer is to be read, is it not? With all this in mind, here is my latest list of FREE contests for teenagers and adults. Best of luck to you!
Thinkerbeat: Short story/fiction competition between 1000 to 3000 words. Winner receives US $25 payable to your PayPal account. Deadline 15 March 2015.
Spinetinglers: Ongoing monthly competition. Stories of maximum 5000 words. UK based but open for submissions worldwide to adults (18+). 1st place £100, 2nd place £50, 3rd place £25 paid in UK sterling or equivalent in your local currency.
Forward Poetry: Poetry contests for adults (18+). UK based but open for submissions worldwide. 1st place £25 and Anthology publication. Deadline 27 March 2015.
United Press: Poetry contests for teenagers and adults (no age limit). Deadline 30 April 2015. 1st place £100. UK based but open for submissions worldwide.
Erbacce Prize 2015: Poetry contest for adults (18+). UK based but open for submissions worldwide. Deadline 1st May. 1st place gets poetry publishing deal for a book appearing in December 2015.
Corinium Museum Poetry Competition: UK based & open to UK residents only. Age categories – under 11, 11-15, 16+. 1st place gets a season ticket to the Corinium Museum, published on museum website and poem displayed inside the museum. Deadline 6th February 2015.
Christopher Tower Poetry Competition: UK based & open to UK teenagers (16-18) only. Theme is ‘cells’. 1st place £3000, 2nd place £1000, 3rd place £500. Must be in part-time or full-time education in the UK. Winner’s school or college also gets £150. Deadline 27 February 2015.
Honouring the Ancient Dead Poetry Competition: UK based & open to UK residents only. No age limit – open to any age. Themed poetry on remembering ancestors. Winner gets published on Honouring the Ancient Dead website & display in participating museums Nationwide. Deadline 28 February 2015.
All the best for your writing!
Leilanie Stewart is a widely published writer and poet. In addition to promoting her own work, she has run creative writing workshops for gifted and talented London secondary school students aged 12 to 18 and is currently a poetry editor for Ashvamegh International Literary Journal. She is married to the writer and poet, Joseph Robert.