Columbia 2016 Essay Contests

Our annual writing contest is now closed. The winner will have their work published in the print issue 56 of Columbia Journal and receive a $500 prize. Contest results and Winners will be announced in March.

2017 Contest Judges 

Karan Mahajan (Fiction)

Karan Mahajan is the author of Family Planning, a finalist for the International Dylan Thomas Prize, and The Association of Small Bombs, which was shortlisted for the 2016 National Book Awards, won the the 2017 NYPL Young Lions Award, and was named one of the New York Times Book Review’s “Ten Best Books of 2016.” In 2017, he was selected as one of Granta’s Best Young American Novelists. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, The New Yorker Online, n+1, and other venues. For more details, please visit Karan Mahajan’s website.

Bianca Stone (Poetry)

Bianca Stone is a poet and visual artist. She is the author of the poetry collection Someone Else’s Wedding Vows,(Tin House & Octopus Books 2014); Poetry Comics From the Book of Hours, (Pleiades, 2016), the illustrated edition of Antigonick, (New Directions, 2012) a collaboration with Anne Carson, and The Mobius Strip Club of Grief, forthcoming from Tin House, 2018. Bianca runs The RuthStone Foundation & Monk Books along with her husband, the poet Ben Pease, and their daughter Odette, in Goshen, Vermont.

Valeria Luiselli (Nonfiction)

Valeria Luiselli was born in Mexico City and grew up in South Korea, South Africa and India. She is the author of the award-winning novels The Story of My Teeth (2015) and Faces in the Crowd (2013), and the books of essays Sidewalks (2013) and Tell Me How It Ends (2017) – all published by Coffee House Press. Tell Me How It Ends is a Finalist for the Kirkus Prize. Her work has been translated into many languages and has appeared in publications such as the New York Times, Granta, Harper’s and McSweeney’s. She lives in Harlem, NY. She is at work on her second novel, The Lost Children Archives (forthcoming Knopf 2018).

We accept submissions in the following three categories:
Fiction (up to 5,000 words)
Nonfiction (up to 5,000 words)
Poetry (up to five pages)

Submission Rules
– Entry to the 2017 Winter Contest requires a$15 fee. Multiple submissions are welcome, but note that the entry fee applies to each submission.
– All work must be submitted through Submittable (we will not accept mailed submissions).
– All work must be original and previously unpublished in any form.
– Simultaneous submissions are allowed, but please inform us immediately if your work is accepted elsewhere.

We accept submissions from U.S. citizens and permanent residents. We also accept submissions from non-U.S. citizens who are living outside the U.S. If you have studied or taught at the Columbia University Writing Program at any time in the past three years, you are ineligible to submit to the contest.

If you have any questions, please email us at

Writer Beware: Contest are fun to enter, but always read ALL the contest submission guidelines. Some contest publish the winning entries. Other post all entries online, and some take all rights. If you don’t agree with any of the contest rules for a particular contest, then don’t enter that contest. One other reason to read the rules closely, is that many tell how the entry should be formatted. Writers who don’t follow their rules are disqualified. Don’t let it happen to you, for perhaps a silly rule, like that you stapled your entry instead of paper-clipped it!

Saturday Writers Contests
The Saturday Writers group in St. Charles has announced their monthly contests for 2016. The theme is the “senses.” They are accepting short stories of up to 2016 words. Deadline for each contest is the 26th of that month. Check their website for specific rules for each contest.
Entry fee: $5
Winners and HMs are published in their annual anthology.

Write Something Funny

McBub’s holds a weekly writing contest. Write 150 words or less about the product. The product and the prize change weekly.

Writer’s Digest 2016 Competitions
Writer’s Digest magazine holds a variety of writing competitions each year. These have upcoming deadlines this year:
4th Annual Self-Published eBook Awards Deadline is August 6, 2016. Prize is $5,000 plus a trip to conference and more.
Annual Poetry Awards Deadline is September3, 2016. Submit 32 lines or fewer. Prize is $1,000.
Popular Fiction Awards Deadline is September 15, 2016 Submit up to 4,000 words in any of 6 categories. Prize is $2,500.
Short Story Competition Deadline is November 15, 2016. Submit up to 1,500 words. Prize is $3,000.

These contest deadlines (below) have passed. Get ready for next year!
Deane Wagner Poetry Contest
Write a poem, any style, that doesn’t exceed two pages.
Entry fee: $10
Deadline: June 1, 2016

Weta Nichols Writing Contest
Enter up to 2,500 words (plus up to 250 words of cover copy) of your unpublished novel in the following categories: Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal/Sci-Fi/Fantasy and Young Adult/Middle Grade.
Entry Fee: $25
DEadline: June 15, 2016

The 2017 Saturday Evening Post Great American Fiction Contest
Write a fiction story between 1,500 and 5,000 words in length.
Entry fee: $10
Prize is $500 and publication. Also 5 runner ups win $100 ea, and publication.
Deadline: July 1, 2016

Master’s Review Short Story Award for New Writers
Write a fiction story up to 6,000 words.
Entry fee: $20
1st Prize is $2,000 and publication; 2nd is $200; 3rd is $100.
Deadline: July 15, 2016

Outrider Press Anthology Contest
Submit poetry up to 32 lines, or prose up to 2,500 words.
Entry Fee: $16
Deadline: March 27, 2016
First place in each is $500; also prizes for 2nd and 3rd.

Florida Keys Flash Fiction Contest
Submit an original story (unpublished), 500 words or less
No entry fee.
Win a three-week Key West residency at the renowned Studios of Key West between July 5 and July 31, 2016, and spend up to 10 days writing in Ernest Hemingway’s private study at the Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum.
Deadline: March 31, 2016

2016 Jory Sherman Short Story Contest
Submit a short story from 1,000 to 2,500 words.
Entry fee: $10
Prizes: $250 total prizes
Deadline: March 31, 2016!2016-writing-contest/cnit

Wergle FLomp Humor Poetry Contest
Submit one poem, up to 250 lines.
No entry fee. Deadline April 1, 2016
Winner receives $1,000. 11 more prizes.

The Big Brick Review – Second Annual Essay Contest
Seeks personal essays and narratives, max 2000 words
Deadline Feb 17, 2016

91-Word Memoir Writing Contest—2016
Write a 91-word (or fewer) memoir.
No entry fee.
Winner gets a free Gotham writing class. Winning memoir will be posted online.
Deadline: February 19, 2016

Event Horizon’s Science Poetry Competition
Submit up to 3 poems, related to science
No entry fee
Deadline: February 29, 2016

7th Annual Spirit First Poetry Contest
Submit up to 3 poems with the theme of meditation or mindfulness
No entry fee
Deadline: February 29, 2016

Dzanc Books Short Story Collection Competition
Winner receives $1,000 advance and publication.
Submit a collection of short stories. Entry fee $25. Deadline Dec. 31.

Golfwell’s Annual Golf Story Writing Competition
Winner receives $300, Second $150, Third $50, and publication on website.
Submit a story about golf, fiction or nonfiction, of up to 700 words.
No entry fee. Deadline Dec. 31.

River Styx 2016 Schlafly Beer Micro-Brew Micro-Fiction Contest
Winner receives $1500 and a case of beer.
Submit up to 500 words. Entry Fee $10/contests/index.php” target=”_blank”> .
Deadline December 31.

Blue Mountain Arts Poetry Contest
Submit a poem suitable for a greeting card.
First Prize $300.
Deadline December 31, 2015.

OdysseyCon Flash Fiction/Prose Poetry Contest
Submit speculative (science fiction, fantasy, or horror) stories or prose poems up to 500 words.
The contest offers cash prizes, convention memberships, and books in both Adult and Youth divisions.
Deadline is Jan. 15, 2016.
Results are announced by March 15. An awards ceremony and reading of the 2016 winning entries will be held at Odyssey Con in Madison, Wisconsin on April 8-10, 2016; they will also be published in the Odyssey Con program and on their website.

Highfield Press Winter 2015 Essay Contest – “Indigo Winter”
Winner receives $1,000.
Write an essay of 500 to 1000 words with the theme “indigo winter,” that relates to the photo on the website.
Entry fee $20. Deadline Jan. 15, 2016

Fanstory’s Tombstone Poetry Contest
Write a brief, humorous epitaph. Entry fee $6.95. Deadline Jan. 21, 2016.
Winner receives $100.

Friends of American Writers Award
Literature Award for books published in 2015.
Send two copies of the book along with a short bio.
The author must not have published more than three books under his/her own pen name, the third book being eligible for consideration.
Author must be a resident (or previously have been a resident for approximately five years) of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Nebraska, Ohio, South Dakota or Wisconsin; or the locale of the book must be in a region identified above.
Deadline December 10, 2015.

Rooglewood Press Five Magic Spindles Contest
Winner receives $100.
Submit a children’s story of 5,000 to 20,000 words, based on “Sleeping Beauty.” Entry fee $10. Deadline Dec. 16.!writing-contest/c22i6

Work Stew Contest
Send in a “Pearl of Wisdom.”
100 words maximum.
Four prizes – up to $100.
Deadline Nov. 15th.

Troubadours Poetry Award
Submit a poem. No form restrictions. Must be inspired by a musician and/or lyrics of the troubadour/story-telling tradition.
1st prize $1,000, 2nd $500, 3rd $250.
Winner will be published in Kansas City Voices magazine.
Fee: $25 for three poems.
Deadline November 30, 2015.

2015 Ernest Hemingway Flash Fiction Prize
Winner gets $200 and publication.
$10 entry fee. Submit up to 1500 words. Deadline Dec. 1.

Fictional Black Ink’s Halloween Flash Fiction Contest
Winner receives $50 and publication.
Submit a flash fiction story of up to 1,000 words. You must use “It was a dark and stormy night” somewhere in story.
No entry fee. Deadline Oct. 24.

Master’s Review Fall Fiction Contest
Winner receives $2,000 and publication. Entry fee $20. Submit up to 7000 words. Deadline Oct. 31.

T.S. Eliot Prize for Poetry
Winner receives $2000 and publication for poetry manuscript.
Submit 60-100 pages of poetry. Deadline October 31. Entry fee $25.

Rollick Magazine’s Somewhere Issue Contest
Looking for submissions on the theme “somewhere.” Can be stories, poetry, essays, reviews, art, photography, etc.
Most popular post receives $200.
No entry fee. Deadline Oct. 31.

Nilsen Literary Prize for a First Novel
Winner receives $2,000 and publication. Entry fee $25. Deadline Nov. 1.

The Conium Review
Winner gets $300 and publication.
$10 entry fee. Submit up to 500 words. Deadline Oct. 15.

Highfield Press August 2015 Essay Contest – “Autumn Leaves”
Winner receives $1,000.
Write an essay of 500 to 1000 words with the theme “autumn leaves,” that relates to the photo on the website.
Entry fee $20. Deadline Oct. 15.

Bartleby Snopes Annual Dialogue Only Contest
Winner receives $300.
Submit a story composed entirely of dialogue, up to 2,000 words.
Entry fee $10. Deadline Oct. 15.

The 2015 RRofihe Trophy No-Fee Short Story Contest
Winner receives $500 and publication.
Submit an unpublished short story of 3,500 to 5,000 words.
No entry fee. Deadline Oct. 15.

Freeditorial Long Short Fiction Story Contest
Submit a story, either fiction or historical, of 10,000 to 40,000 words.
Note that stories will be posted online for people to download. Winner chosen by number of downloads.
Winner receives $15,000. Second place $5,000, Third place $2,000.
No entry fee. Deadline Oct. 15.

Springfield Writers’ Guild 22nd Annual Poetry and Prose Contest
Open June 15th until September 15th.

One Read Flash Fiction Contest
Write a story about a world’s end in 250 words or less.
Winners receive a book store gift card.
Submit entries September 1-23, 2015 at

The Hudson Review Short Story Contest
Submit short stories up to 10,000 words. Deadline September 21, 2015. No entry fee. Winner receives $500.

8th Annual Real Simple Life’s Lessons Essay Contest
Submit a nonfiction essay of up to 1500 words. Deadline September 21, 2015. No entry fee. Winner receives $3,000.

Arts Rolla! 10th Writing Competition
Submit fiction, nonfiction, or poetry. Entry fee $15, or $5 if a member.
Deadline September 30.
Awards given for 1st, 2nd and 3rd in each category, but type of award not specified.

The Chariton Review Short Fiction Prize
3 Winners – $500, $200 and $200.
Submit up to 5,000 words. Entry fee $20. Deadline Sept. 30.

Great Lakes Commonwealth of Letters Microfiction Contest
Winner receives $500. Also $250 for second, $100 for third.
Submit flash fiction up to 500 words. Entry fee $5. Deadline Sept 30.

Mighty River Short Story Contest
Winner receives $1,000 and publication.
Submit a story up to 30 pages. Entry fee $20. Deadline Oct. 1.

Wilda Hearne Flash Fiction Contest
Winner receives $500 and publication.
Submit Flash fiction up to 500 words. Entry fee $15. Deadline Oct. 1.

EssayMama Summer Essay Contest
Submit an essay 800-1300 words, on any of the topics listed. Deadline October 1, 2015. No entry fee. Winner receives $500.

Tethered by Letters
Winner gets $150 and publication. $7 entry fee. Submit max of 55, 250, or 500 words. Deadline August 31.

The Nano Prize
Winner gets $1,000 and publication. $20 entry fee for up to 3 entries. Submit up to 300 words. Deadline Sept. 1.

25th Annual Jeffrey E. Smith Editor’s Prize for Fiction, Poetry, Nonfiction
Offered by The Missouri Review.
Winner gets $5,000 in each category. Deadline Oct. 1.

Zoetrope: All Story Short Fiction Contest
Winner receives $1,000 and publication.
Submit up to 5,000 words. Entry fee $20. Deadline Oct. 1.

Weta Nichols Writing Contest
This contest is for unpublished manuscripts in the following categories:
Contemporary; Historical; Paranonormal/Sci-Fi/Fantasy; Young Adult/Middle Grade.
Submissions do not have to be Romance.

Cash prizes! This year’s Final Round Judges are:
Louise Fury of The Bent Agency will judge Historical and Young Adult/Middle Grade
Candace Havens with Entangled Publishing will judge Contemporary and Paranormal/Sci-Fi

The deadline to enter is July 15, 2015.
Visit for particulars such as: fee, word count, number of entries, style.

The Masters Review Short Story Contest. THE DEADLINE FOR THIS EVENT HAS BEEN EXTENDED to July 15th. 6000 words or less from authors who have NOT published a novel…yet.

Four contests a year for mystery/crime story writers through St. Martin’s press (part of MacMillan)
Hunt until you find the four contests mentioned by Linda Rodriquez at our recent Write Direction Conference (DETAILS: one with a detective in it, one for traditional detective story, one with a major crime in it and one with a crime in the SW of the USA)

Flash in the Attic Contest
Winner gets $100 and publication, 2nd place gets $50 and publication. $5 entry fee. Submit up to 1,000 words. Deadline July 1.

Splickety Prime Contest
Winner gets $100 Amazon gift card and publication. $10 entry fee. Submit up to 1,000 words (they prefer less than 700). Deadline July 10. Theme is “Lost at Sea.”

The Lindenwood Review Prose Poetry Contest
Winner gets $50 and publication. No entry fee. Submit up to 3 prose poems, each no longer than one double-spaced page. Deadline Aug. 1.

The Texas Observer Short Story Contest
Winner gets $1,000 and publication. Entry fee $25. Deadline August 16.

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