2023 Isn't Over Yet: The Ultimate Guide to Short Story Writing Contests

Short Stories Contest 2023 (The Ultimate Guide)

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It is hard to believe we already have half the year behind us. If you’ve fallen behind on your resolution to submit to a short stories contest, don’t wait until the new year to get started. It’s not too late! There are still plenty of reputable writing contests coming up in the back-half of 2023 waiting for your entry. 

This roundup of short stories contests (2023 edition) is for writers of all genres, stages, and ages with various categories.

So whether you’re an aspiring or experienced writer looking to showcase your talent and get recognized for your work, why not give one of these opportunities a try?

Short Stories Contest 2023: Fiction and Nonfiction  

L. Ron Hubbard Writer of the Future Contest 

The L. Ron Hubbard Writer of the Future Contest is a free, quarterly contest for emerging authors in the science fiction and fantasy genres. Entering the contest provides an opportunity for new writers to have their work evaluated by a panel of professional writers and to reach wider audiences with their voice.

Prize: $1,000, $750, $500 for quarterly contests plus one grand prize of $5,000. 

Deadline: The 4th quarter deadline is September 30, 2023.

ServiceScape Short Story Award

The ServiceScape Short Story Award contest accepts unpublished short story submissions—up to 5,000 words—from all genres and themes. Open to authors of all nationalities, backgrounds and experience levels, the contest is a great opportunity for new writers to have their work viewed by ServiceScape readers. 

Prize: $1,000

Deadline: November 29, 2023

Prose.

With a similar look and feel to a writer’s version of Twitter, Prose. offers unique weekly writing challenges covering various themes and genres.

Check regularly for fun prompts to spark your creativity. There are paid and unpaid opportunities and chances to review the work of your fellow writers. 

Prize: Varying

Deadline: Varying

Black Voices in Children’s Literature Writing Contest

The Black Voices in Children’s Literature Writing Contest invites Black authors from across the Midwestern United States to submit their unpublished works to elevate, promote and celebrate African-American voices and representation in children’s literature. Hosted jointly by Strive Publishing and Free Spirit Publishing, each submission is considered for publishing. 

Prize: $250 – $1, 000 for top three entries

Deadline: July 24, 2023

PEN/Robert J. Dau Short Story Prize for Emerging Writers

PEN/Robert J. Dau Short Story Prize for Emerging Writers seeks to promote and support the careers of talented new fiction writers. This contest recognizes the 12 top debut short stories of up to 12, 000 words published that year in a literary magazine, journal or cultural website. Winning entries are selected by three experts in their field for a cash prize and publication in the PEN America annual anthology. 

Prize: $2,000

Deadline: November 1, 2023

Photo of a young man writing with a pen in a notebook. He is concentrating on what he is writing. Maybe it's a submission planned to enter in a short stories contest or something similar

Prestigious Prizes

PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction

Highly regarded, the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction is considered one of the most prestigious peer-juried writing contests in America. This prize recognizes the top published works of fiction by American authors in a given year. Annually, a celebration is held in honor of the distinguished top ten and top five finalists and the “first among equals” grand prize winner. 

Prize: $15, 000

Submission period: July 1-September 30, 2023

Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards

The Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards celebrates outstanding, recently published works of nonfiction, fiction and poetry, tackling topics of racism, diversity, and social justice. Prizes for this contest will be handed out at an award ceremony held in the fall during Book Week in Cleveland, Ohio. 

Prize: $10,000

Submission period: September 1-December 31, 2023

Marfield Prize (National Award for Arts Writing)

The annual Marfield Prize, also known as the National Award for Arts in Writing awards, a prize for excellence in nonfiction writing, presented by the Arts Club of Washington, for books about the performing, visual or literary arts. Books published in the United States in the previous year are eligible for submission.

Prize: $10, 000

Deadline: October 15, 2023 

Young Lions Fiction Awards

The Young Lions Fiction Awards is an annual competition hosted by the New York Public Library highlighting young authors under 35 of exceptional talent in novel and short story writing. Each year, judges select one winner from a group of five finalists chosen by a committee of Young Lions members. 

Prize: $10,000 

Submission period: The contest opens in July 2023 for the 2024 season

Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence

The Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence is an annual contest recognizing up-in-coming African-American fiction writers. Submitted works are judged by Anthony Grooms, Edward P. Jones, Elizabeth Nunez, Francene Prose and Patricia Towers who have all made significant contributions to literature. 

Prize: $15,000

Deadline: October 15, 2023

Poetry  

Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poetry

African poets can submit their debut book-length collection of poetry to the Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poetry contest. Not-yet-published or self-published works of outstanding poetry written by authors born in Africa, whose parents are African or those who are nationals or residents of an African country are eligible for the annual contest. 

Prize: $1,000 and publication contract

Submission period: September 15-December 1, 2023

Luschei Prize for African Poetry 

The Luschei Prize for African Poetry, established in 2015 after name-sake Glenna Luschei, recognizes African poetry of 48 pages or less written by African authors, written in or translated into English. This one-of-a-kind annual contest is judged by a renowned African author and aims to promote and honor African poets and their outstanding work.  

Prize: $1,000 

Deadline: October 1, 2023

Evaristo Prize for African Poetry

Annually, a collection of 10 poems by an African poet is awarded the Evaristo Prize for African Poetry. Celebrating the rich and diverse peoples, places and stories of Africa, this contest looks to encourage a new generation of African poets to perfect their craft and recognize their accomplishments. 

Prize: $1,500 

Submission period: October 1-November 1, 2023

Academy of American Poets First Book Award

The Academy of American Poets First Book Award winning first-book manuscript is selected annually by a critically acclaimed poet and published by Graywolf Press.  Also known as the Graywolf Press Walt Whitman Award, this prestigious contest seeks to discover and promote exemplary contemporary American poetry. 

Prize: $5,000, publication contract and six-week residency in a 15th-century Italian castle

Submission period: July 1-September 1, 2023

Young Authors | Short Stories Contest & More

St. Martin’s Minotaur / Mystery Writers of America First Crime Novel Competition

Youth authors of unpublished debut thriller or crime novels up to 60,000 words may enter in St. Martin’s Minotaur / Mystery Writers of America First Crime Novel Competition. The contest aims to discover new crime and thriller authors under 18 of all nationalities, support their endeavors and bring their best works to center stage. 

Prize: Publishing contract with Minotaur Books and $10, 000 advance 

Deadline: December 15, 2023

Write the World: Creative Nonfiction Competition

Write the World organizes competitions for young writers aged 13-19. This year’s Creative Nonfiction Competition theme is transitions. Teen writers can share their experiences in this transitioning time in their life as a nonfiction personal narrative and gain valuable experience and feedback opportunities. 

Prize: Varying 

Submission period: July 3-18, 2023  

Write the World: Flash Fiction Competition 

The Flash Fiction Competition by Write the World invites writers 13-19 to submit their pint-sized stories that pack a punch. For this contest, writers are challenged with the task of producing a concise, well-crafted story of only 99 words or less.  

Prize: Varying

Submission period: August 7-22, 2023

Be sure to carefully review each contest’s website for full information about rules, eligibility, and submission fees before applying. Good luck entering a short stories contest this year!

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