This month there are contests for stories, poems, unpublished and published books, translations, essays, plays - you name it, there's a contest for it. None of these contests charge entry fees, so you have nothing to lose by entering.
Make sure to read the contest guidelines carefully, as some have age and regional restrictions.
If you somehow miss your perfect contest this year, don't worry! Many of these are annual contests. You can get a jump on upcoming contests through this month-by-month listing of free contests: Free Contests.
Commonwealth Short Story Prize. Restrictions: Open to citizens of the British Commonwealth. Genre: Unpublished short fiction (2,000-5,000 words) in English. Short stories translated into English from other languages are also eligible. Prize: Regional winners receive £2,500 (US$3,835) and the overall winner will receive £5,000 (US$7,670). Deadline: November 1, 2016. Read details here.
A Public Space Emerging Writer Fellowships. Restrictions: Open to writers who have not yet published or been contracted to write a book-length work. Prize: $1,000, 6-month fellowship, and a mentorship from an established author. Deadline: November 1, 2016.
Drake University Emerging Writer Award. Genre: First book of short stories (collections). Prize: $1000 plus travel and lodging expenses to read at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa. Deadline: November 1, 2016.
William F. Deeck-Malice Domestic Grants Program for Unpublished Writers. Restrictions: Writers must not have published a book, short story, or dramatic work in the mystery field, either in print, electronic, or audio form. Genre: Mystery stories of the Agatha Christie type—i.e., “traditional mysteries.” These works usually feature no excessive gore, gratuitous violence, or explicit sex. Prize: Each grant may be used to offset registration, travel, or other expenses related to attendance at a writers' conference or workshop within a year of the date of the award (no later than May 2016). In the case of nonfiction, the grant may be used to offset research expenses. Each grant currently includes a $1,500 award plus a comprehensive registration for the following year's convention and two nights' lodging at the convention hotel, but does not include travel to the convention or meals. Deadline: November 1, 2016. Read details here.
Vermont Writers' Prize. Restrictions: Open to residents of Vermont. Genres: Short story, poem, play or essay on the theme of Vermont - its people, places, history or values. Entries must be unpublished and fewer than 1,500 words long. Writers may submit only one entry per year. Prize: $1,500 and publication in Vermont Magazine. Deadline: November 1, 2016. Read details here.
Hajja Razia Sharif Sheikh Prizes in Nonfiction and Poetry. Restrictions: Undergraduates. Genre: Awards will be given to the best piece in each genre that addresses the experience of being Muslim in America. Winning pieces will speak to the experience — joys and challenges — of being Muslim in America today in ways that educate and inform our readers. Winning pieces may also demonstrate an understanding of Islamic history, culture, contributions, and / or its influence on society. Deadline: November 1, 2016.
Jane Lumley Prize for Emerging Writers. Restrictions: The Jane Lumley Prize will only be awarded to writers who have not already published a full length book. However, they may have published a chapbook, and/or found a home for their works in other literary journals. Genre: Poetry. Maximum of eight poems (totaling not more than ten pages). Prize: $300 and winning entries will be featured in the January issue of Hermeneutic Chaos. Deadline: November 1, 2016.
Glamour Magazine "My Real-Life Story" Essay Contest. Genre: Essay—no more than 3,500 words. Prize: $5,000, publication in Glamour, and meeting a top New York literary agent. Deadline: November 1, 2016. Read details here.
New York Encounter Poetry Contest. Genre: Poetry on the theme "Reality Has Never Betrayed Me." Prize: Cash prizes of $300, $200 and $100 will be awarded to first, second and third place poems. Deadline: November 1, 2016.
Unified Caring Association Student Essay Contest. Restrictions: Open to High School Juniors and Seniors. Genre: Creative nonfiction on theme of caring. Prize: $333. Deadline: November 1, 2016.
RBC Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction. Restrictions: Canadian citizens only. Genre: Nonfiction book. Prize: C$25,000. Shortlisted authors receive $2,000. Prize: Deadline: November 2, 2016 for books published between October 1 and October 30, 2016. Read details here.
Dylan Thomas Prize. Restrictions: Authors must be aged 39 or under. Eligible books must have been commercially published for the first time in the English language between January 1 and December 31 of the year in which the deadline falls. Genre: Published books of poetry, fiction (novel, novella, or short story collection), radio scripts, or screenplays. Eligible books must have been commercially published for the first time in the English language between January 1 and December 31, 2016. Prize: 30,000 pounds, plus 1,000 pounds for shortlisted authors. Deadline: November 4, 2016. Read details here.
Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction. Genre: Published book by a woman. Entrants must be writing in English and must be published in the UK. Novels must be published in the United Kingdom between 1 April 2016, and 31 March 2017. All subject matters and women of any age, from any nationality or country of reisdence are eligible. Prize: £30,000.00. Deadline: November 9, 2016.
The PEN/Robert J. Dau Short Story Prize for Emerging Writers. Genre: First published short story. Authors may not submit their own work. Prize: $2000 and publication in The PEN America Best Debut Short Stories. Deadline: November 11, 2016.
Neltje Blanchan/Frank Nelson Doubleday Memorial Awards. Restrictions: Wyoming writers. Genres: The Frank Nelson Doubleday Award is given for the best poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, or script written by a woman writer. The Neltje Blanchan Memorial Writing Award is given annually for the best poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, or script which is informed by a relationship with the natural world. Prize: $1,000.00. Deadline: November 14, 2016.
Brooklyn Non-Fiction Prize is sponsored by the Brooklyn Film & Arts Festival. Genre: Non-fiction essay between 4 to 10 pages, set in Brooklyn about Brooklyn and/or Brooklyn people/characters. (Up to 2500 words). Prize: $500. Deadline: November 15th, 2016.
Flo Gault Student Poetry Prize. Restrictions: Full-time undergraduate college students in Kentucky. Genre: Poetry. Prize: $500. Deadline: November 15th, 2016.
Pushcart Press Editors' Book Award. Genres: Fiction or nonfiction manuscript that has been rejected by a commercial publisher. The award recognizes "worthy manuscripts that have been overlooked by today's high-pressure, bottom-line publishing conglomerates." Each manuscript is nominated by an in-house editor who has seen his or her literary enthusiasms rejected by a U.S. or Canadian publishing company. Prize: $1,000. Deadline: November 15th, 2016.
Santa Ana Dramatic Works Contest. Genre: Ten-minute dramatic works (12 pages or less) of any medium (play, screenplay, teleplay). Prize: $100. Deadline: November 15th, 2016.
Shaughnessy Cohen Award for Political Writing. Restrictions: Titles must be published in Canada between September 9, 2015 and December 31, 2015. Self-published books are not eligible. Genre: A book of literary nonfiction that captures a political subject of relevance to Canadian readers and has the potential to shape or influence thinking on contemporary Canadian political life. Prize: Winner: $25,000; Finalists: $2,500. Deadline: November 16, 2016: For books published between September 14, 2016 and December 31, 2016 Read details here.
Payton James Freeman Essay Prize. Restrictions: U.S. citizens. Genre: Essay on the subject of change and changes. Prize: $500. Deadline: November 21, 2016.
Arts & Letters Awards. Restrictions: Residents of the Canadian Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. Genre: Original creative work in literature, music, visual art and digital multi-media may be entered. Prize: $1,000.00 CAN. Deadline: November 25, 2016.
Princeton University Poetry Contest for High School Students. Restrictions: Student writers in the 11th grade. Prizes: First Prize – $500, Second Prize – $250, Third Prize – $100. Deadline: November 27, 2016.
Build Your Own Blog New Writer Scholarship. Restrictions: Students aged 16 years and up. Genre: Unpublished short story/poem/blog post/(Any written material you are proud of). Prize: $4,000. Deadline: November 29, 2016.
Best Translated Book Awards for Fiction. Genre: All original translations published between January 1, 2016 and December 31, 2016 are eligible. Reprints and retranslation are ineligible. Prize: $5,000.00. Two awards of $5,000: one apiece for the author and translator of the winning book in fiction. Deadline: November 30, 2016.
Patricia Grodd Poetry Prize for Young Writers. Restrictions: Open to writers aged 16-18. Genre: Poem (1). Prize: Full scholarship to The Kenyon Review Young Writers workshop, an intensive two-week summer seminar for writers aged 16-18. Deadline: November 30, 2016. Read details here.
Somerset Maugham Awards. Restrictions: Open to writers under the age of 35. Genre: Published work of fiction, non-fiction or poetry. Prize: 2,500 pounds apiece to four winners. Prize money must be used for travel. Deadline: November 30, 2016. Read details here.
UNT Rilke Prize. Restrictions: US citizens or residents. Open to authors with at least two prior published books of poetry. Genre: Book of poetry published between November 1, 2015 and October 31, 2016. Prize: $10,000.00. Deadline: November 30, 2016.
Betty Trask Prize. Restrictions: Author must be a Commonwealth citizen. Genre: First novels, published or unpublished, written by authors under the age of 35 in a "traditional or romantic, but not experimental, style." Prize: Awards totaling 20,000 pounds. Top prize 10,000 pounds. The prize money must be used for foreign travel. Deadline: November 30, 2016. Read details here.
Encore Award. Restrictions: Open to British or Commonwealth citizens. Genre: Second published novel. Book must have been first published in the UK. Prize: 10,000 pounds. Deadline: November 30, 2016.
Fountain Magazine Essay Contest. Genre: Essay. 1,500 - 2,500 words. "In the context of this current moment in history, The Fountain’s 2016 Essay Contest invites you to consider the issues facing today’s immigrants. Are you an immigrant, too? Were your parents or grandparents immigrants? Are we all immigrants in this world? How do immigrants contribute to your society? How do they cause problems in your society? How would you help immigrants thrive?" Prize: 1st Place - $1,500, 2nd Place - $750, 3rd Place - $300, Two Honorable Mentions - $200 each. Deadline: November 30, 2016.
New Roscommon Writing Award. Restrictions: All entrants must have a connection with the county of Roscommon (born in, living in, currently working in, went to school in, etc). Genres: All. Prize: €500.00. Deadline: November 30, 2016.
West Coast Eisteddfod Online Poetry and Short Story Competitions. Genre: Poetry, short story. (No limericks.) Prize: Poetry: $200 in each language category (Welsh and English). Short Story: $200.00 (one English-language entry) Deadline: November 30, 2015. Read about the poetry competition here.