2021-2022 Writing Contests for Indie Authors 

2021-2022 Writing Contests for Indie Authors 

Nothing can boost an indie author’s motivation and get their creativity flowing as well as a reputable writing contest (or a tight deadline).

A proper writing contest provides it all

  1. The spirit of competition;
  2. The possibility of some acknowledgment; 
  3. Professional critique;
  4. A marketing opportunity;
  5. And, sometimes, a cash prize.

What’s not to like?

Besides, there are so many contests to choose from! Regardless of your preferred genre, and style, there’s a competition for you. 

We’ve picked some of the most reputable 2021-2022 writing contests for indie authors and self-published writers where you can test your skills and have some fun. (All contests accept texts written in English.)

2021-2022 Writing Contests for Indie Authors

Novel Writing Contests

L. Ron Hubbard’s Writers of the Future Writing Contest 

What to submit: science fiction, fantasy, and dark fantasy prose of up to 17,000 words

Special requirements: international; only one submission per participant; for authors who haven’t professionally published a novel, more than a single novelette, or more than 3 short stories 


  • First Prize: $1,000
  • Second Prize: $750
  • Third Prize: $500
  • At the end of the year, all first-place winners are judged for a Grand Prize of $5,000

Fee: free

Deadline: the writing contest has 4 quarters 

  • October 1 
  • January 1
  • April 1
  • July 1 

The year ends on September 30

  1. Ron Hubbard’s writing contest provides an amazing opportunity for indie SF&F authors to have their works judged by the masters of the craft as well as the possibility to win a substantial cash prize. 

The Bath Novel Award 

What to submit: first 5,000 words of a novel and its summary

Special requirements: international; for indie published, self-published, or unpublished authors 

Prize: varies, usually it’s a £1,500 – £3,000 cash price or an equivalent gift and publicity

Fee: £28 or can be sponsored for low-income writers 

Deadline: keep an eye for 2022 submissions

The Bath Novel Award is a highly reputable, UK-based writing contest established in 2013. Since then, it has helped many authors to find their footing in the industry and develop their careers. 

So far, the 2021 Bath Novel Award has finished. We suggest watching out for their 2022 submissions. You can check out previous winners and short-listers to understand what makes their novels stand out. 

Killer Nashville Claymore Award

What to submit: first 50 double-spaced pages on an unpublished fiction novel with elements of thriller, mystery, crime, suspense

Special requirements: international; for works NOT under a publishing contract 

Prize: top 3 authors receive a heavily-discounted admission to Killer Nashville International Writers’ Conference

Fee: $40

Deadline: Apri 1, 2022

Founded in 2009. Claymore Award writing contest is dedicated to helping authors network, find new opportunities, connect with editors, and agents. 

Grindstone’s the Crucible Novel Award

What to submit: first 3,000 words and a short synopsis

Special requirements: international; for unpublished, finished, and half-finished manuscripts that exceed or will exceed 70,000 words


  • Grand Prize – £1,000 + Full MS Request
  • Runner Up – £500
  • 4x Shortlisters – £100
  • All Prize Winners – 25% CBCreative Online Course Discount + Atmos Collections Invitation

Fee: £20

Deadline: October 1, 2021; 2022 writing contest TBD

A UK-based Grindstone writing contest has already awarded indie authors from the UK, the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and other countries. It’s a prestigious award that many talented authors each year. 

Voyage YA First Chapters Contest 

What to submit: first chapter (5,000 words max) of the unpublished YA novel

Special requirements to authors: international; women YA writers


  • The 1st Place winner will receive $3,000 and an hour-long consultation with a literary agent.
  • 2nd Place will receive $300 and publication,
  • 3rd place will receive $200 and publication.
  • Finalists will also receive written feedback from a literary agent.

Fee: $20

Deadline: September 19, 2021; 2022 contest — TBD

Hosted by a Voyage YA journal, the First Chapter writing contest is dedicated to lifting women YA writers and helping them kick start their careers. 

North Street Book Prize 

What to submit: an up to 200.000-word self-published fiction book, Creative Nonfiction & Memoir, Poetry, Children’s Picture Book, Graphic Novel & Memoir, Art Book

Special requirements: international; a single-author self-published books except books for the kids aged 8-12


  • Grand prize: $8,000, marketing analysis and one-hour phone consultation with Carolyn Howard-Johnson, a $300 credit at BookBaby, and 3 free ads in the Winning Writers newsletter (a $525 value).
  • The top winner in each category: $1,000, marketing analysis and one-hour phone consultation with Carolyn Howard-Johnson, a $300 credit at BookBaby, and one free ad in the Winning Writers newsletter (a $175 value)
  • One honorable mention in each category: $250

Fee: $70

Deadline: Submit works from February 15 – June 30, 2022

North Street Book Prize is perhaps among the biggest self-published writing contests. Besides, you can submit an already self-published book, which is a big advantage.  

Short Form Writing Contests

Tom Howard/John H. Reid Fiction & Essay Contest

What to submit: up to 6,000 words of any published or unpublished fiction short story and/or nonfiction essay

Special requirements: international, 


  • STORY: First Prize, $3,000
  • ESSAY: First Prize, $3,000
  • The top two winners will also receive two-year gift certificates from our co-sponsor, Duotrope (a $100 value)
  • 10 honorable mentions will receive $200 each (any category)
  • Top 12 entries published online

Fee: $20

Deadline: Submit works from October 15, 2021 – April 30, 2022

Tom Howard/John H. Reid Fiction & Essay Contest is a comparably rare short-form writing competition that accepts both fiction and nonfiction manuscripts. It will be their 30th entry, so why not give it a try? 

SiWC Writing Contest 

What to submit: 2,500 – 4,000-word stories in any genre that aren’t published and haven’t won other contests

Special requirements: international


  • First prize: $1,000 plus publication
  • Honourable Mention: $150 plus publication

Fee: $15

Deadline: September 17, 2021; 2022 writing contest — TBD

Canadian-based Surrey International Writers’ Conference hosts its 29th writing contest to uplift indie authors who prefer short-story format. 

Women on Writing Quarterly Flash Fiction Contest

What to submit: a flash fiction story 250 to 750 words

Special requirements: international;

PrizeProfessional story critique and 


  • $400 cash prize
  • $25 Amazon Gift Certificate
  • Entry published on WOW! Women On Writing
  • Interview on the WOW! Women On Writing Blog


  • $300 cash prize
  • $25 Amazon Gift Certificate
  • Entry published on WOW! Women On Writing
  • Interview on the WOW! Women On Writing Blog


  • $200 cash prize
  • $25 Amazon Gift Certificate
  • Entry published on WOW! Women On Writing
  • Interview on the WOW! Women On Writing Blog

7 runners up

  • $25 Amazon Gift Certificate
  • Entry published on WOW! Women On Writing
  • Interview on the WOW! Women On Writing Blog

10 honorable mentions

  • $20 Amazon Gift Certificate
  • Name, state, and title entry published on WOW! Women On Writing

Fee: $10


  • Fall: September – November 30th 11:59 PM (Pacific Time)
  • Winter: December – February 28th, 11:59 PM (Pacific Time) 
  • Spring: March – May 31st, 11:59 PM (Pacific Time)
  • Summer: June – August 31st, 11:59 PM (Pacific Time)

Women on Writing contest allows only for 300 entries, so if you want to enter, better hurry up. But don’t worry, if you don’t manage to make it in time, they host the contest 4 times a year. 

They also host a similar nonfiction writing contest that you can find on their website

Furious Fiction Writing Contest

What to submit: they give you a story brief and constraints, and you write a 500-word story in 55 hours

Special requirements: international; for anyone over age 17

Prize: AUD $500

Fee: free

Deadline: September 17, 2021; 2022 writing contest — TBD

Furious Fiction is a great contest to exercise your speed in writing short stories. Besides, it’s hosted each month, which you can use as a lifehack for creative consistency. 

Bath Flash Fiction Award

What to submit: unpublished up to 300-word short stories for adult or young adult readers

Special requirements: international; for authors over 16 years old


  • First: £1,000 
  • Second:  £300 second 
  • Third: £100 
  • Two commendations: £30 each.
  • 50 longlisted entrants offered publication in a digital anthology.

Fee: £9.00

Deadline: Three rounds a year, the current deadline is by 1 November 2021 

Another entry from a Bath Award, but this time aimed at short-form connoisseurs. The prizes are great, the fee is low—what not to like? 

Poetry Writing Contests

Montreal Poetry Contest 

What to submit: unpublished and uncontracted poetry up to 40 lines in length (if the poem was posted on the Internet or broadcast in any other format, it’s considered published)

Special requirements: international; for poets who reached the age of majority in their country; authors aren’t allowed to submit the same poem to another contest when submitting to Montreal Poetry Contest 


  • The winter takes $20,000 CAD
  • The jury will choose 50 poems to be published in the Montreal Prize anthology


  • First early entry: $20 CAD
  • First late entry: $25 CAD
  • Every subsequent entry: $17 CAD 

Deadline: 2022 contest dates to be announced (most likely in early Spring)

Montreal Poetry Contest is perhaps the biggest poetry contest in the world. Though the 2021 applications are closed, we highly recommend all indie poetry writers paying close attention to the news about the upcoming 2022 competition. 

Tom Howard/Margaret Reid Poetry Contest 

What to submit: an original poem up to 250 lines in length; the poem may have been already published or submitted to other writing contests.  

Special requirements: international; for poets of any age


  • Tom Howard Prize: $3,000 for a poem in any style or genre
  • Margaret Reid Prize: $3,000 for a poem that rhymes or has a traditional style
  • The top two winners will also receive two-year $100-gift certificates from Duotrope (a $100 value)
  • Honorable Mentions: 10 awards of $200 each (resource for writers and authors)
  • Top 12 entries published online

Fee: $15 per submission of one or two poems

Deadline: September 30, 2021; 2022 — TBD

It is going to be the 19th entry of a generous Tom Howard/Margret Reid writing contest that offers a rare opportunity to submit published poems. Besides, if you write in different styles, you can submit 2 different poems for the price of one. 

Rattle Poetry Prize 

What to submit: previously unpublished poem of any length, style, and subject; you can submit up to 4 poems per single entry

Special requirements: international; 


  • First place: $15,000
  • 10 finalists: $500 each, eligibility for $5,000 Reader’s Choice Award, and publication in Rattle Journal

Fee: $25 (goes along with a yearly subscription to a Rattle Journal)

Deadline: Look out for the 2022 poetry contest 

Rattle Poetry Prize is among the most consistent poetry contests. It started in 2006, and since then, the writing contest has awarded hundreds of thousands of prize money to masterful poets. Who knows, maybe you will be the next one. 

The Kingsley and Kate Tufts Poetry Awards (two awards: for beginners and middle-career poets)

What to submit

  1. For starting poets: a hard copy of your first printed self-published poetry book for Discovery Award; 
  2. For middle-career poets: a hard copy of your printed self-published poetry book for Poetry Award; 

Special requirements: for the US citizens and legal residents only; the book has to have been published the previous year between July and June


  • The Kingsley and Kate Tufts Poetry Award: $100,000
  • The Kingsley and Kate Tufts Discovery Award: $10,000 

Fee: free

Deadline: Annual deadlines are on July 1; the next round ought to start after spring 2021

Kate Tuft, the wife of a poet and an entrepreneur Kingsley Tuft, established Tufts Poetry Award in 1992 “to give a poet a little breathing room and recognition.” Since then, the contest has succeeded in the task and given many poets what it promised. Overall, it’s a fairly complex contest with many requirements, but it’s worth the hustle. 

Are writing contests worth entering? 

If you like a little competition or find it strangely invigorating and deal with rejection fine, then yes, writing contests are worth the effort. If you enter the writing contest, you can get a motivation boost, professional critique, valuable experience, and maybe even a nice prize. 

If you’re not the kind of person who gets their kick out of friendly contests and handles rejection badly, we’d suggest trying something else. For example, writing groups.

Are writing contests safe? 

The reputable and recurring writing contests are safe. 

If you’re in doubt about a writing contest, you can do the following to double-check it

  • Check the contest’s social media activity (usually, it’s Twitter) 
  • Search relevant hashtags to find reviews and participants
  • Read the works of the previous winners to see whether the judging makes sense to you 
  • See whether the winners shared the news about their participation on their social media

In any case, always read their terms and policy carefully and act at your discretion. 

We hope you’ll find a writing contest that suits your style and preferences and have some fun with it. Good luck! 

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