July Roundup of Writing Competitions

Ledbury Poetry Fesival Competition 2015

This is one of the better UK competions, with categories for both adults and under 18s. As far as I can tell it’s an international competition. Although if you win, you’ll need to travel to Wales for the writing course at Ty Newydd.

Word limit: 40 lines

Adult Entries

Prizes: 1st – £1000 plus a course at Ty Newydd, The National Writers’ Centre for Wales, 2nd – £500, 3rd – £250

Entry fee: £5

Young People: 12 – 17

Prizes:  1st – £100,    2nd – £50,  3rd – £25

Children: (11 and under)

First Prize:  1st – £25 book token, 2nd – £15 book token, 3rd – £10 book token

Entry fee for under 18s: first poem free then £1.50 for each additional entry.

Closing date: 9th July

This years judge will be Deryn Rees-Jones “Deryn Rees-Jones’s most recent books are ‘And You, Helen’ with Charlotte Hodes (Seren, 2014) and ‘Burying the Wren’ (2012) shortlisted for the Roland Mathias and T.S. Eliot Prize. She teaches literature at the University of Liverpool and is the new editor of Pavilion Poetry.”

The winners in each category will also have the opportunity to read their entry at next year’s Ledbury Poetry Festival.


The Apocalypse Chronicles Short Story Competition

This free to enter competition, run by Almond press, is also a call to submit your apocalyptic stories for publication in a new anthology of stories of the same theme. The shortlisted stories submitted will be published in the anthology. It is my understanding that international entries will be accepted.

Word limit: 5000 words

Prizes: 1st – £100

Entry fee: free

Closing date: July 15th

The guidelines mention that a synopsis should be included with the submission and, knowing that some writers struggle with this, I contacted Almond Press to ask what they would like to see. “For our writing competitions, we prefer when writers include a short synopsis. Short means one or two sentences. The synopses of winning stories are then included in the book description (for instance in the table of contents or back cover) – so, the shorter the better.” They also suggested looking at the book description of their last anthology, Broken Worlds on Amazon which includes all the synopses of the last competition shortlist.

The competition is judged, first by a select group of readers to compile a longlist, then by a jury composed of writers and editors from the creative writing community, who will decide on a final shortlist and the winner.


Ambit Summer Writing Competition 2015

As well as being a magazine to which poets and short story writers can submit their work for publication, Ambit are also offering a writing competition which promises great prizes and great exposure.

Word limit: 1000

Prizes: 1st – £500, 2nd – £250, 3rd – £100

Entry fee: Poetry submissions: £5, Short fiction £7

Closing date: July 15th

The judges will be Dan O’Brien, for the poetry competition, and Alison Moore, for the short fiction. The three winners in each category will be published in the magazine and given the chance to read their work at an event on October 22nd in London.


The Seán Ó Faoláin Short Story Competition

This international annual short fiction competition is one of the highlights in my diary. This is one of the short fiction competitions to win and the prize is very generous.

Word limit: 3000

Prizes: 1st – €2000, 2nd – €500, four runners up €120

Entry fee: €15

Closing date: July 31st

The winner will be invited to collect their prize at the Cork Short Story Festival in September they will be treated to hotel accommodation as well as wined and dined by the organisers. The winner will also receive a week long residency at Anam Cara Writer’s and Artists Retreat. All the prizewinning stories will be published in the Southword literary journal.

The judge this year is to be Danielle McLaughlin, whose short stories have won various competitions, garnered many awards and been published in numerous anthologies, magazines and journals, so she ought to know what she’s doing.


Cinnamon Press Annual Debut Novel (or Novella) Prize

This small publisher does a great deal to support new writers, and I believe it is with this in mind that they offer publication to the winners of their competition as well as going as far as organising mentoring for those runners-up that show promise. Their stable of books also shows that they are more interested in finding the rare gems that other publishers (and agents who would sell to them) would reject due to lack of mass appeal.

Word limit: first 10,000 words of novel.

Prizes: 1st – £700 plus publishing contract

Entry fee: £12

Closing date: July 31st

The judge this year is novelist, poet and Professor of English, Ian Gregson.


Wells Festival of Literature Writing Competition

Wells Festival of Literature offers prizes in two categories. It is also one of the festivals I’m actually going to attend this year.

Short Story Category

Word limit: 1000–2000 words

Prizes: 1st – £500, 2nd – £200, 3rd – £100

Entry fee: £5

Poetry Category

Word limit: 40 lines

Prizes: 1st – £500, 2nd – £200, 3rd – £100

Entry fee: £5

Closing date: 31st July

The competition also offers two additional prizes for each category: the Hilly Cansdale poetry prize of £100 and the Wyvern short story prize of £100. Both are for entrants local to Wells in Somerset. The judge for the short story category will be Rhidian Brook. The poetry category is to be judged by Peter Oswald.


Doris Gooderson Short Story Competition

Wrekin Writers offer a number of supportive activities and opportunities throughout the year, including the Doris Gooderson Short Story Competition. This is an international competition.

Word limit: 1200 words

Prizes: 1st – £150, 2nd – £70, 3rd – £40

Entry fee: £3

Closing date: July 13th

All profits from the entries will be donated to the Severn Hospice.


Norwich Writers’ Circle Olga Sinclair Open Short Fiction Competition 2015

Run in collaboration with Unthank Books, this brand new competition certainly looks like a worthy addition to the ranks of quality writing prizes in the UK. One thing worth noting is that the rules state all entries must include the word ‘mustard‘ in the prose. I wonder if this means that they are expecting humorous or quirky entries rather than the straighter varieties of literary fiction.

Word limit: 2000 words

Prizes: 1st – £500, 2nd – £250, 3rd – £100

Entry fee: £7

Closing date: 31st July (17th by post)

Awards will be presented at a gala evening in Norwich on the 20th October. The winning stories will be considered for publication. The entries will be judged by Ashley Stokes of Unthank Books.


Ilkley Literature Festival Competitions

The festival offers both a poetry and a short story category. This is an international competition.

Poetry Category

Word limit: 30 lines

Prizes: 1st – £200

Entry fee: £5

Short Story Category

Word limit: 3000 words

Prizes: 1st – £200

Entry fee: £5

Closing date: 31st July 

The writers from each category plus runners up will be invited to read their work at the Ilkley Literature Festival in October.

The judges will be Blake Morrison for the poetry category and Particia Duncker for the short story category.


Dream Quest One Poetry and Writing Contest

Dream Quest One have been running competitions for several (10) years now. Andre West, the editor personally responds to each entry. This is an international competition

Poetry Category

Word limit: 30 lines

Prizes: 1st – $250, 2nd – $125, 3rd –$50

Entry fee: $5

Short Story Category

Word limit: 5 pages (no word count)

Prizes: 1st – $500, 2nd – $250, 3rd – $100

Entry fee: $10

Closing date: 31st July

“The Mission of Dream Quest One Poetry & Writing Contest is to inspire, motivate and encourage anyone having the desire or love of poetry and writing, to continue doing so without fear of failure or success!”

Winners will be published on the Dare to Dream pages of the site.


HISSAC Annual Short Story Competition

The Highlands and Islands short story association offer help for writers in the form of mentorships and a directory of like minded writers. They also offer  an annual short story contest, with this year a new flash fiction category. I believe this is an international competition.

Flash Fiction Category

Word limit: 500 words

Prizes: 1st – £50

Entry fee: £2

Short Story Category

Word limit: 2500 words

Prizes: 1st – £400, 2nd – £50, 3rd – £50

Entry fee: £5

Closing date: 31st July


Fairy Tale Review Awards in Poetry and Prose

The Fairy Tale review is an annual literary journal which publishes new fairy tales. It is a good competition, though obviously anything submitted should conform to the fairytale theme of the journal. As far as I can tell this is an international competition.

Short Story Category

Word limit: 6000

Prizes: 1st – $1000

Entry fee: $10

Poetry Category

Word limit: 5 poems and/or ten pages

Prizes: 1st – $1000

Entry fee: $10

Closing date: 31st July

The judges this year will be Brian Everson for the prose category and Joyelle McSweeny for poetry. The winning piece for each category will be published in the Ochre issue of the magazine. Non-winners may also be considered for publication.


The 2015 Wasafiri New Writing Prize

This is another literary magazine led contest, Wasafiri offers three categories: Poetry, Fiction and Life Writing. It is an international Competition.

Fiction and Life Writing Categories

Word limit: 3000 words

Prizes: 1st – £300

Entry fee: £6

Poetry Category

Word limit: Up to 5 poems

Prizes: 1st – £300

Entry fee: £6

Closing date: 24th July

The winning entries will also be published in Wasafiri Magazine. The competition is only open to writers who have “not published a complete book in their chosen category”. Self-published authors take note.

The judges this year will be Toby Litt, Yasmin Alibhai Brown and Roger Robinson. I am not sure who will be judging which category.



About Simon Cornish

Always a storyteller, both in words and visually, I have worked as a professional animator, scriptwriter and illustrator for most of my career. I’ve directed commercials, short films and plenty of dubious corporate miscellany. A number of my short films have been shown at festivals and I’ve produced a couple that have won awards. I have also created illustrations for industry magazines and children’s publications. Wanting to explore my writing in more depth I undertook an MA in Professional Writing at Falmouth University, graduating in 2011, and have been working on script and prose writing since.

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