A Guide to Short Story Contests in 2020

“Short stories are tiny windows into other worlds and other minds and other dreams. They are journeys you can make to the far side of the universe and still be back in time for dinner.” ― Neil Gaiman

Deadlines and details do sometimes change, so please check the relevant websites for all the latest terms and conditions.


Upcoming Deadlines

Scottish Arts Club Short Story Award
is open to writers worldwide. The winner receives £1000 (US$1260), second prize is £500, third prize is £250 and an additional £600 award is open to unpublished writers resident in Scotland.  The top 20 finalists will be published in a Scottish Arts Club Anthology. The entry fee is £10. The closing deadline is 29 February.

Stella Kupferberg Memorial Short Story Prize
is sponsored by the stage and radio series Selected Shorts. The winning work will be performed and recorded live at a Selected Shorts performance at Symphony Space and published on Electric Literature. Entries should be 750 words or less. The winning writer will receive US$1000 and a free 10-week course with Gotham Writers. The entry fee is $25. The closing deadline is 1 March.

Howard Frank Mosher Short Fiction Prize
is run by Vermont-based journal Hunger Mountain. The winner receives US$1000 and publication. Stories may be up to 8000 words in length and all entries will be considered for publication. The entry fee is $20. The closing deadline is 1 March.

Harper’s Bazaar Short Story Competition
invites entries on the theme ‘Summer’ up to 2200 words. The winner will receive a two-night stay at the historic Grantley Hall in Yorkshire, England, and the chance to see their work published. There is no entry fee. The closing deadline is 13 March.

Nelligan Prize for Short Fiction
is offered each year by Colorado State University’s Center for Literary Publishing. The winner receives US$2000 honorarium and the story is published in the fall/winter issue of Colorado Review. There are no theme restrictions, but stories must be at least 10 pages (or 2500 words) but no more than 50 pages (12,500 words). The entry fee is $17. The closing deadline is 14 March.

Desperate Literature Short Fiction Prize
will be awarded for an original work of short fiction under 2000 words. The first prize winner will receive €1000 (US$1100), a week’s residency at the Civitella Ranieri Foundation in Italy and a consultation with a literary agent from Andrew Nurnberg Associates. The entry fee is €20. The closing deadline is 15 March.

Limnisa Short Story Competition
invites stories up to 1000 words inspired in some loose way by this picture. The winner receives a one week writers’ retreat in 2020 or 2021 at a seaside location near Agios Georgios, Greece. There is no entry fee. The closing deadline is 29 March.

F(r)iction Spring Contest
is open to short fiction between 1000 and 7500 words, as well as creative nonfiction and poetry. The organisers advise that they prefer stories that “celebrate the weird, take risks, and are driven by a strong, unique voice.” The judge is novelist Charlie Jane Anders and the winner will receive $1000 and publication. The entry fee is $15. Entries close on 31 March.

Short Fiction/University of Essex Prize 
awards the winner with £500 (US$630) and publication at Short Fiction; the runner-up is awarded £250 and publication. Entries may be up to 5000 words. The entry fee is £9 with a discount for all entry. A limited number of free entries are available to writers for whom the fee would be a barrier to entry. The closing deadline is 31 March.

Toyin Fálọlá Prize
is open to short stories “creatively inclined towards the historicity of an African place, people, time or event; however this is done is solely left to the imagination and creativity of the writer”. Pieces are recommended to be between 1500 and 6000 words in length.  The winner will receive US$700 and entry is free. The closing deadline is 15 April.

Bath Short Story Award
is open to stories up to 2200 words in length. First Prize is £1200 (US$1550) and stories may be in any genre. This year the shortlist judge is Kate Johnson from Mackenzie Wolf Literary Agency.  The entry fee is £8. The deadline for entries is 20 April.

Tom Howard/John H. Reid Short Story Contest
is open to original short stories on any theme. The winner in each category receives US$3000 and there are 10 minor prizes of $200 each. Entries should be a maximum of 6000 words. The entry fee is $20. The closing deadline is 30 April.

Furphy Literary Award
carries the theme ‘Australian Life’ and has a first prize of AUD$15,000, a university residency and publication opportunities. Stories may be up to 5000 words and entrants must be Australian residents. There is no entry fee. The closing deadline is 30 April.

Bristol Short Story Prize
is open to stories up to 4000 words and has a first prize of £1000 (US$1300). Entries can be on any theme or subject and are welcome in any style including graphic, verse or genre-based (crime, science fiction, fantasy, historical, romance, children’s etc). Twenty stories will be shortlisted and published in the Bristol Short Story Prize Anthology. The entry fee is £9. The closing deadline is 30 April.

Craft Short Fiction Prize
is for stories up to 5000 words. Three stories will be selected published in CRAFT, accompanied by an introduction from judge Elizabeth McCracken and a craft essay from each author.  The author of the prize-winning story will receive US$2000; the two runners-up will receive $500 and $300, respectively. The entry fee is $20. Entries open on 1 March and close on 30 April.

RTÉ Radio 1 Francis MacManus Short Story Competition
is open to writers who are Irish or reside in Ireland. Three winning entries will receive €3000, €2000 and €1000 each. The winning and shortlisted stories will be produced and broadcast on RTÉ Radio 1 in a season of new writing, read by leading actors. There is no entry fee. Entries are expected to open in March and close in May.

David Nathan Meyerson Prize for Fiction
is only open to writers who have not yet published a book of fiction, either a novel or collection of stories. The winner receives US$1000 and publication in Southwest Review. Stories can be up to 8000 words in length and all entries will be considered for publication. The entry fee is $25. Entries are expected to open in February and close in May.

Brick Lane Bookshop Short Story Prize
is open to UK residents for original short stories between 1000 and 5000 words. Longlisted stories will be judged by Zoe Gilbert, Kit Caless and Emma Paterson and be published in an anthology. The overall winner receives £1000 and there are prizes for second and third. The entry fee is £10. The closing deadline is 15 May.

Lorian Hemingway Short Story Competition
is open to emerging writers whose fiction has not yet reached a larger audience. To be eligible writers must not have had their fiction published in a nationally distributed magazine/journal with a circulation of 5000 or more. Entries must be less than 3500 words. The winner receives US$1500 and publication in Cutthroat Magazine. The entry fee is $15 before 1 May and $20 before 15 May.

Raymond Carver Short Story Contest
will be offered for the 20th time in 2020. It is open to writers from around the world and offers $2500 across five prizes.  Entries open on 1 April and close on 15 May.

Tillie Olsen Short Story Award
is run The Tishman Review. The contest is open to stories up to 5000 words and first prize is US$500. The entry fee is $15 and all entrants receive a one-year digital subscription to the magazine. Entries are expected to open in April and close in May.

V.S. Pritchett Memorial Prize
is the Royal Society of Literature’s annual prize for the best unpublished short story of the year. The winner receives £1000 (US$1260) plus publication in Prospect Magazine and the RSL Review. Entrants must be resident in the UK, Republic of Ireland or the Commonwealth. Stories should be between 2000 and 4000 words. Entries are expected to open in April and close at the end of May.

Queen Mary Wasafiri New Writing Prize
is open to anyone who has not published a book-length work of fiction, life writing, or poetry. It welcomes entries of short stories up to 3000 words. The winner receives £1000 (US$1260) and will be published by Wasafiri in print and online. They will also be offered the Chapter and Verse or Free Reads mentoring scheme in partnership with The Literary Consultancy (dependent on eligibility). The entry fee is £10 (subsidies available). The closing deadline is 1 June.

Cambridge Prize for Short Stories
is for stories up to 3000 words and offers prizes of £1000 (1st) £300 (2nd) and £200 (3rd), with all remaining shortlisted to be awarded £50. The judge for the 2020 prize is Katy Darby. The entry fee is £9 with a limited number of free entries available. Entries open on 15 April and close on 15 June.

Seán Ó Faoláin International Short Story Competition
is an annual short story competition open to writers from around the world. First prize is €2000 (US$2200), publication in the literary journal Southword, and a week-long residency at Anam Cara Writer’s and Artist’s Retreat. The entry fee is €15. Entries open on 1 May and close on 31 July.

Commonwealth Short Story Prize
is open to citizens of the 53 Commonwealth countries, the prize covers the five Commonwealth regions: Africa, Asia, Canada and Europe, Caribbean and Pacific. One winner will be selected from each region, with one regional winner to be selected as the overall winner. The overall winner of the Commonwealth Short Story Prize will receive £5000 (US$5500) and the remaining four regional winners receive £2500. Entries are expected to open in September.

Carter V. Cooper Short Fiction Competition
is open to literary and speculative fiction by Canadian writers, up to 30 pages (approximately 10,000 words). CA$10,000 will be awarded for Best Story by an Emerging Writer and CA$5000 for Best Story by a Writer at Any Career Point. Entries are expected to open in March and close in October.

Zoetrope All-Story’s Annual Fiction Contest
has the aim of seeking out and encouraging talented writers, with the winning and runners-up’s work being forwarded to leading literary agents. A first prize of US$1000 is also offered. Entries open on 1 July and are expected to close in October.

Larry Brown Short Story Award
is run by literary magazine Pithead Chapel. The contest is open to stories up to 4000 words and first prize is US$500. The entry fee is US$10. Entries open on 1 August and close on 31 October.

CBC Short Story Prize
is open to Canadian citizens and permanent residents. The winner will receive CA$6000 from the Canada Council for the Arts, will have their story published on CBC Books and will have the opportunity to attend a two-week writing residency at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity. Entries open on 1 September and close on 31 October.

John Steinbeck Short Story Award
is one of three prizes offered by Reed Magazine. This award is for a work of fiction up to 5000 words. The winner receives a cash prize of US$1000 and all entries are considered for publication. Entries open on 1 June and close 1 November.

Chris O’Malley Prize in Fiction
is offered annually by The Madison Review. The winning story will be awarded US$1000 and publication. Entries may be up to 30 pages. The entry fee is $10. Entries open on 1 October and close on 1 December.

Past Deadlines

Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize
accepts short stories or self-contained novel extracts up to 3000 words. The winner receives US$1000 and possible publication in The Thomas Wolfe Review. Entries close on 30 January.

Kenyon Review’s Short Fiction Contest
is only open to writers who have not yet published a book. To enter writers must provide a story of up to 1200 words. The entry fee is US$24 and includes a one-year subscription to the Kenyon Review. The closing deadline is 31 January.

Crazyhorse Prizes
is open to short fiction up to 25 pages, as well as poetry and nonfiction. The author of the winning story will receive US$2000 and publication. The entry fee is $20 and includes a subscription. The closing deadline is 31 January.

New Millennium Awards
is open to fiction up to 6000 words, as well as flash fiction and poetry and creative nonfiction and carries a first prize of US$1000. As well as previously unpublished works,  works that have appeared in a journal with a circulation of under 5000 are also eligible. The entry fee is $20. Entries close on 31 January.

Masters Review Winter Short Story Award
is for new writers who have not published a novel or collection with a circulation over 5000 copies. First prize is US$3000. publication on The Masters Review site, and review from multiple agencies. The second and third place stories receive $300 and $200, respectively, publication, and agency review. The entry fee is $20. The closing deadline is 31 January.

Lamar York Prizes
offers US$1000 and publication in Chattahoochee Review for a short story up to 6000 words. All entries are considered for publication. The entry fee is $18 which includes a subscription to Chattahoochee Review. The entry deadline is 31 January.

Iowa Review Awards
is open to short fiction of up to 25 pages (double spaced), as well as poetry and nonfiction. First prize is US$1500, the runner up receives $750 and all entries will be considered for publication. The fiction judge for the 2020 award is Lan Samantha Chang. The entry fee is US$20 or US$30 with a magazine subscription. The closing deadline is 31 January.

Newcastle Short Story Award
is open to Australian writers aged over 18. Stories may be up to 2000 words and the winner will receive AUD$3000, with a further prize pool valued at AUD$4800 on offer. The entry fee is $16.50. The closing deadline is 3 February.

Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook Short Story Competition
offers the winner a place on an Arvon residential writing course of their choice (valued at £1000) and publication on writersandartists.co.uk. Stories must be under 2000 words and can be on any theme. There is no entry fee. The closing deadline is 13 February.

William Van Dyke Short Story Prize
is open to pieces up to 5500 words in length. The winner receives US$1500 and publication in Ruminate. The entry fee is $20 and includes a digital subscription to Ruminate. The closing deadline is 15 February (with a three-day grace period).

Chicago Tribune’s Nelson Algren Award
has been held annually since 1981. The award carries a first prize of US$3500 and has five finalists (US$750 each).  Stories can be up to 8000 words and entrants must be a legal resident of the United States. There is no entry fee. The closing deadline is 17 February.

White Review’s Short Story Prize
awards £2500 to the best piece of short fiction by a writer resident in Britain and Ireland who has yet to secure a publishing deal. Entries must be between 2000 and 7000 words. The entry fee is £15 and free entry is offered to writers who are on a low-income. The closing deadline is 27 February.

For updates and news about short story contests throughout the year follow Aerogramme Writers’ Studio on Facebook and Twitter.

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