Free to Enter Competitions

This page lists free-to-enter ongoing competitions as money is often an issue for us authors and this is a quick reference to those that are free and either offer money or just kudos (a placing to add to your CV). Please do email me if you find any errors or know of others…

  • Mixed: The Pen Cove Award (formerly the Whidbey Writing Competition). This contest from Whidbey Writers Workshop in the USA is open worldwide and is for fiction, creative non-fiction, poetry and writing for children or young adults. Up to 1,000 words. I’m told they have a rather strange way of selecting a winner for this one. The judge reads submissions until he or she finds one that ‘knocks his/her socks off’. Never mind that the next one might have divested the judge of his / her pants and woolly vest, the remaining entries are tossed aside without so much as a glance.  However, you can submit you entry again if it isn’t selected (try to get it in early, as entries are read in order of submission).
 Closing: Monthly.
 Prize: $50.
 Entry Fee: Free to enter.
 Comp Page:
  • Short storiesWriter Selection has a 31st January deadline and 200-2000 word count. Prizes £150, £50, £25. Entry is free and all entrants receive a year’s membership (normally £10).
  • Do you know of any more free January deadline competitions? If so, do email me.
  • Also see below for regular competitions.
  • Do you know of any free February deadline competitions? If so, do email me.
  • Also see below for regular competitions.
  • Flash Fiction: Erewash has a free flash fiction competition. Deadline late March. Full details here.
  • Short storiesThresholds International Short Story Forum Feature Writing Competition. Free to enter, international, max 1500 words, 1st prize £500, closing date late March.
  • Do you know of any more free March deadline competitions? If so, do email me.
  • Also see below for regular competitions.
  • Do you know of any free April deadline competitions? If so, do email me.
  • Also see below for regular competitions.
  • Flash FictionErewash has a 1,000 words maximum with free mini-crit feedback for all entrants. First Prize £50, Second Prize £25. Closing date: early May.
  • Mixed: Free prose and poetry competition run by Listen Up North with a mid-May deadline.
  • Do you know of any more free May deadline competitions? If so, do email me.
  • Also see below for regular competitions.
  • Short stories: Words Magazine Short Story Competition is free to enter, international, and has a closing date of 30th June. See
  • Short stories: GKBC (Giving Kudos to Brilliant Content) is running a free crime-writing competition with a deadline of 30th June. See for more details.
  • Do you know of any more free June deadline competitions? If so, do email me.
  • Also see below for regular competitions.
  • Do you know of any free July deadline competitions? If so, do email me.
  • Also see below for regular competitions.
  • Flash Fiction: Online literary magazine Eclectica have teamed up with Circalit and are looking for <800 word flash fiction / short stories by early August. Free entry.
  • Flash Fiction: December House Flash Fiction Fest Competition has a mid-August deadline. It’s free to enter and they are looking for three pieces of less than 1,000 words each from each contributor. See and for details.
  • Short storiesThe Costa Short Story Award is open to published and unpublished authors writing in English and resident in UK or Ireland since 1 November 2009. £3,500 first prize, £750 x 2 runners up, free to enter. 4,000 words max, closing date early August.
  • Short Stories: The Helmdon (Northamptonshire)-based Bookmarks Festival takes place in August. As part of the festival they run two short story competitions; one for adults, one for children. There is a prize of £50.00 in National Book Tokens for the winning entry, as well as other notable entries being displayed on the day, and it is free to enter (deadline early August). Details on
  • Do you know of any more free August deadline competitions? If so, do email me.
  • Also see below for regular competitions.
  • Short stories: The Erewash Writers’ Group competition website is running two free entry competitions and these close early November.
  • Short stories: The Commonwealth Short Story Prize is being run by Commonwealth Writers, a cultural initiative from the Commonwealth Foundation. Cash prizes are on offer for the winning writers, and prizes for translation are also available. Short stories 2000 – 5000 words. Genre, theme and setting is open. Writers must be citizens of a Commonwealth country. Writers do not need to currently reside in that country. Entries must be original and unpublished with the exception of personal blogs and personal websites. English entires only. Translations of short stories written in languages other than English are eligible if submitted by the writer (not the translator) and provided the translator is a citizen of a Commonwealth country. One entry per writer. Opens 1 October, closes 30 November. Free entry. One winner is chosen from each regional category – 1. Africa, 2. Asia, 3. Canada and Europe, 4. Caribbean and 5. Pacific. One regional winner will be selected as the overall winner with four runners up from remaining regions. Overall winner will receive £5,000. Remaining four regional winners £2,500. If the winning short story is a translation into English, the translator will receive additional prize money:  £2,000 for the overall winning story and £1,000 for a regional winning story. Details on:
  • Do you know of any more free November deadline competitions? If so, do email me.
  • Also see below for regular competitions.
  • Poetry: Print Express are running their first poetry competition and this is free to enter, with the winner will receive £100 worth of Amazon vouchers. The theme is ‘Winter’ and poems must be no longer than 45 lines. The deadline for this is late December.  You can view further details here:
  • Mixed (novel extract / short stories): The Jim Henson company together with Grosset and Dunlap are running a competition to find an author for a new novel set in the world of The Dark Crystal. The winner will be decided based on a short story or sample of a longer work. 7,500-10,000 words that represent the story you would tell in a full-lengthDark Crystal novel. It can either be the first chapters, final chapters, a collection of middle chapters, or a short piece that would form the inspiration for a novel-length story. Open only to residents of the fifty United States, the District of Columbia, U.S. territories and possessions, Canada (excluding Quebec) and the United Kingdom. Authors must be 18 years or older. Closing date: 31st December. Prize: A contract to write a full length novel to serve as a prequel for the Jim Henson film The Dark CrystalFree to enter. See and for details.
  • Do you know of any more free December deadline competitions? If so, do email me.
  • Also see below for regular competitions.
  • Flash Fiction: LinkedIn’s Aspiring Writers Group runs a monthly flash fiction / short story competition (600 to 715 words). You do have to be a member of LinkedIn (free) and the writing group itself (a closed group but you can ask to join) to enter the competition.
  • MixedOpening Editions.
  • MixedWhat The Dickens magazine lists “competitions and give-aways which are all free to enter”.
  • Short storiesCreative Writers’ Circle competitions are open to all and are free.
  • Short storiesFlash Fiction Online is a 500-1000 word site that is free to subscribe / read, free to submit to. Payment is via donations with 60% going to the author and 40% going to the site so there’s no way of knowing how much (if anything) you’d earn but another opportunity perhaps.
  • Short StoriesWriter’s News / Writing Magazine runs a monthly competition for stories of 1,500 to 1,700 words (different theme each month) which is free but you do have to be a subscriber to their magazine (which I do and it’s so worth it).

If you discover any broken links, closed competitions or know of ones that I haven’t listed here, please do email me with details.


2 responses to “Free to Enter Competitions

  1. Mark Morris

    July 25, 2013 at 9:10 am

    Just a quick word about the Costa short story competition; the closing date is August 2nd, not September 7th. I’m writing for it, so I’m quite aware that the time’s almost gone!

    • morgenbailey

      August 2, 2013 at 10:45 am

      Thank you, Mark. I’ve updated this page as well as the Competitions home page.


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