Five Writing Contests You Should Enter

I’ve never won a writing contest.

To be fair, I only entered one. In elementary school. When I lost, I may or may not have reacted like this: temper-tantrum BUT, I think writing contests are great — especially for writers who are looking for more name recognition and or looking to be paid for their work (read: the majority of writers). So, I’ve compiled a list of five writing competitions that could lead to both.

Amazon Breatkthrough Novel Award. I was actually a judge in the early rounds of this competition for a few years— some entries were great and some were not so great, but reading them helped me learn more about what it took to create a successful novel. There are a few rounds — first you have to send in a pitch, and hope your novel gets selected to the quarter finals, but the rewards are worth it. The grand prize winner last year won a $50,000 advance and a publishing deal with Amazon. Keep you eyes on this link for the 2015 official rules and deadlines to be posted.

Writer’s Digest Short Story Contest. If you can tell a compelling tale in 1,500 words or less, then you could snatch the $3,000 grand prize and have your short story published in the July 2015 issues of Writer’s Digest. Deadline is December 15, 2014, so what are you waiting for?

Reader’s Digest 100-word True Story Contest. Yep, you read that right. 100 words. If you consider yourself a Twitter master, this is the contest for you. Teel a true story about yourself in 100 words or less. The prize? $5,000 and publication in Reader’s Digest. Check this link for updates to the 2015 competition.

Real Simple Life Lessons Essay Contest. I love Real Simple — I’m always learning what to do with extra buttons and ice cube trays and and other random shit I have lying around that I have no idea what to do with. And here’s another reason to love it — their annual competition divvies out $3,000 to the winner of a 1,500-word on a life lesson they’ve learned (maybe you could write about the time you learned what to do with extraneous buttons by reading Real Simple). Keep an eye on this link for 2015 rules. The entry period is typically May through September.

Scholastic Kids are Authors Contest. OK, so this one is only for the kiddos, but it’s one I’m keeping my eye on so I can redeem my childhood dreams though my own children when they’re old enough. Any kid in grade K-8 can enter an original illustrated book by March 15, 2015. Grand prize is $5,000 in merch from Scholastic (read: a crap ton of books) and 100 copies of your kid’s book (read: Christmas shopping for the grandparents is DONE).

Author: Colleen Oakley

Colleen Oakley is the author of BEFORE I GO (Simon & Schuster/Gallery, Jan. 2015), a love story. A former editor for Marie Claire and Women's Health & Fitness, she's now an Atlanta-based freelance writer. Find out more at

5 Replies to “Five Writing Contests You Should Enter”

  1. Just wanted to let your readers know that the Writer’s Digest competition closing date is Dec 15 2014 – not 2015, a little typo but one that means we could/should be writing and polishing and submitting now 🙂
    Thanks for the list!

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