Happy New Year! May you be blessed with acceptances, wins, and six-figure contracts! I’d like all that too!!!
I’ve been asked why I list non-paying opportunities as well as paying ones. The answer is that they can be really interesting and unusual, and have wild themes that make us write outside our comfort zone. This can keep our work growing and developing.
Another reason is that some non-payers are run by and/or for marginalised groups. I want these groups to get as much traffic as possible, and I want to support the various communities (I’m in a few of those groups myself).
Sometimes, too, a contributor copy is so beautiful that it’s better than a small payment! Or you find that the prestigious litmag you’ve wanted to get into for years actually isn’t that good, and you’d prefer to try elsewhere.
So that answers that! Any other questions?
Enjoy your writing, and if you’re submitting or entering for the first time, you are wonderfully brave and should reward yourself accordingly, whether your piece is accepted or not!
Here are some writing competitions and calls for submission, all with free, electronic entry.
As usual I’m passing these on in good faith but mistakes may be made, so do check all the submission guidelines carefully. Any info in quotes comes from the website itself and any dates at the start are deadlines. Also, I don’t know the sources personally, so do check them out for yourselves.
There are three headings (click/tap to jump straight to them):
If you aren’t a submitter (why not? Nothing to lose! Rejection is something we all share!) then the themes can make great writing prompts/exercises.
Although I mention only fiction or poetry, many publications accept non-fiction, art or other forms, so do check if interested. Good luck and do let me know of successes! The links are in the comments, and any dates at the start are deadlines.
Where possible, I have marked the relevant entries with ‘paying’, ‘contributor copy’ etc. However, you are best off checking the info for yourselves as I am not infallible and the info isn’t always available or clear. Please be aware that a contributor copy may be in print or digital format. Also, some publications offer several things, eg payment as well as a contributor copy. Where this is the case, I have assumed that payment is enough of an incentive, so I haven’t listed everything. It’s a rough guide and should be treated as such.
5th Jan Spectator Competition No. 3231: vindalism. ‘You are invited to provide an example of pretentious wine-writing. Please email your entries of up to 150 words to email@example.com by midday on 5 January.’ PAYING https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/spectator-competition-winners-goldfinger-for-tots
8th Jan ‘Seeking to promote and support fiction, poetry, and literary non-fiction writing in the emerging genre of climate literature, Homebound Publications proudly announces its new climate writing competition.’ Among the requirements: ‘Final and Complete Manuscript (Preferably no more than 75,000 words for nonfiction or fiction submissions and no more than 125, 8.5 x 11 pages for poetry.)’ PAYING https://homeboundpublications.com/prism-prize/
10th Jan 4000-6000 words of your novel manuscript. PAYING https://www.novelslices.com/contest.html (thanks to www.publishedtodeath.blogspot.com for this one; Cathy’s note: you can enter after this date, but there’s a fee of $20 if you do!)
12th Jan Spectator Competition No. 3232: have i got news for you. ‘You are invited to retell a news story from the past year in sonnet form. Please email entries to firstname.lastname@example.org by midday on 12 January.’ PAYING https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/spectator-competition-winners-harold-pinter-s-nativity
15th Jan Poets residing in India only: up to three poems. UNKNOWN IF ANY PRIZE https://yugenquest.com/submit/
15th Jan Speculative flash on the theme of Graciela Iturbide. PAYING https://apparitionlit.com/submissions/
17th Jan ‘The Women’s Prize Trust, Audible, Curtis Brown Literary Agency and Curtis Brown Creative Writing School are delighted to launch Discoveries 2022, searching for the most talented and original new female writing voices in the UK and Ireland.’ ‘The prize will accept novels in any genre of adult fiction and entrants will be required to submit only the first 10,000 words of their novel with a synopsis of up to 1,000 words (but if you can, keep it shorter than that – 500 words is plenty).’ https://www.curtisbrowncreative.co.uk/discoveries-2022/
22nd Jan US only: ‘Since 2012, the Zócalo Public Square Poetry Prize has recognized the U.S. writer of a poem that best evokes a connection to place. Zócalo is now accepting submissions for our 2022 competition.’ PAYING https://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/2021/09/16/zocalo-poetry-prize-2022/inquiries/prizes/
25th Jan Fifty word story about a starry night. There are children’s categories as well as adult categories, and entries in Gaelic can also be entered. NON-CASH PRIZE https://www.scottishbooktrust.com/fifty-words-competitions/write-story-about-a-starry-night
27th Jan Black authors only: Afro-Solarpunk Futures Microfiction. PAYING https://solarpunkmagazine.com/monthly-micro-fiction-contest/
31st Jan ‘The competition is open to anyone who has lived, worked or studied in Cheshire (including Wirral and Halton).’ ‘With tackling climate change at the forefront of the world’s agenda, this year’s Cheshire Prize competition will focus on the theme of Sustainability.’ Various categories and age ranges. PAYING https://www1.chester.ac.uk/press-office/cheshire-prize-literature-2021
31st Jan ‘Three times a year, Jerry Jazz Musician awards a writer who submits, in our opinion, the best original, previously unpublished work of short fiction. The Jerry Jazz Musician reader has interests in music, social history, literature, politics, art, film and theater, particularly that of the counter-culture of mid-twentieth century America.’ PAYING https://jerryjazzmusician.com/short-fiction-contest-details/
31st Jan Two categories: poetry and prose. PAYING https://lumierereview.com/contest
31st Jan: US and Canada only: prose up to 100 words. Theme: Draft. PAYING https://www.storytwigs.com/competition
1st Feb Students only: poetry, fiction, nonfiction, art and more. PAYING https://roadrunnerreview.submittable.com/submit
2nd Jan ‘This anthology is seeking poetry submissions by historically underrepresented poets about their superheroes.’ CONTRIBUTOR COPY/COPIES (MAY BE PRINT OR DIGITAL) https://www.flowersongpress.com/call-for-submissions
3rd Jan Poetry, flash, short fiction and more on the theme of Lost and Found. http://montanamouthful.com/submission-guidelines/
5th Jan ‘Fahmidan & Co. Publishing is a publisher for all POC & Women ardent in battle against subjugation. Our mission for 2022 is to publish 4-6 Chapbook collections by Women & POC. Short fiction & Poetry collections are welcome!’ CONTRIBUTOR COPY+ ROYALTIES https://www.fahmidan.net/publishing
7th Jan SF and F stories by Black, Asian, Latin, LGBTQ+ and other under-represented authors. PAYING https://www.cossmass.com/submit/
8th Jan ‘Mason Street seeks work which evokes your choice of one or more of the following four themes:The Quilt, The House, The Town, The Land. We publish fiction, nonfiction, poetry of less than a page, spoken word videos, artwork and photography.’ https://masonstreetreview.org/submissions/
9th Jan Theme: Destination. ‘Unpublished, original stories of fiction, CNF, memoir, personal essay, or a hybrid of any. 1 piece over 1,000 words, but a max of 2,000 words, or 2 with under 1,000 words each.’ PAYING https://www.thirtywestph.com/elevatorstories
9th Jan ‘The Christmas Gothic Short Stories collection (with thanks to author Marina Favila for the suggestion) is a seasonal celebration of the dark and moody, the ghastly, the ghostly and the magical Christmas short story. We’re looking for new submissions to join the classic tales of Algernon Blackwood, James Joyce, E.F. Benson and Elizabeth Gaskell.’ PAYING http://blog.flametreepublishing.com/fantasy-gothic/weird-horror-short-stories-call-for-submissions-0-0-0
9th Jan ‘The Compelling Science Fiction Short Stories collection is looking for new tales which are on the more plausible end of the SF spectrum. Time can be stretched, other worlds discovered, aliens can be present and quantum realms can be explored, but preferably all with a strong spine of internal self-consistency and dose of real-world science.’ PAYING http://blog.flametreepublishing.com/fantasy-gothic/weird-horror-short-stories-call-for-submissions-0-0-0
10th Jan ‘We want sci-fi stories about COLONISATION.’ 3000-7000 words, PAYING https://www.breakingrulespublishingeuro.com/upcoming-anthologies-roadmap.html
10th Jan Women writers: poetry, fiction and more. PAYING https://mslexia.co.uk/submit-your-work/
14th Jan One line poems on the theme of Birds. https://www.whiptailjournal.com/submissions.html
14th Jan Cosmic Horror Monthly is seeking Cosmic Horror, Lovecraftian, Weird stories, original and reprints. If you aren’t sure if your work qualifies, submit it and we can decide. No subject is off-limits and we do encourage writers to try and push the status quo. 1000-7500 words. https://www.cosmichorrormonthly.com/submissions/
15th Jan ‘Bad Habits…We know you don’t have any but others might, what then? Surender to them, flaunt them, solicit a gentle gypsy to coax them away, hire a dominatrix to beat them out? Horrid clowns to scare them away? Please DO NOT send us heart-breaking tales of baleful addictions. Just bad habits–those things one ought not to do but ..… Please send us your best stories of approximately 50 words regarding Bad Habits in the body of an email to blinkinkinfoATgmail.com No poetry, bios, or attachments please.’ CONTRIBUTOR COPY/COPIES (MAY BE PRINT OR DIGITAL) http://www.blink-ink.org/current-submissions/
15th Jan Theme: The Reinvented Detective. ‘As we move forward into the age of information, what happens to our ideas of detection and crime? How do you handle it when your smart car blackmails you or you need to murder the downloaded personality of your enemy? What acts to enforce society’s norms and catch those violating them in the future?’ ‘Length: 1500-5000 words (5k is going to be a tough sell)’ PAYING https://www.arcmanorbooks.com/thereinventedanthology
15th Jan Issue IV: Mirror of Society. For this issue, we seek unique depictions of society at this turbulent moment. Whether it be culture, media, or politics, we seek works that reflect the unique characteristics of your individual societies and countries. Literature and art, through its rawness and depth, are often described to be mirrors of society. We wish to see works that encapsulate this idea, grapple with it, and explore it uniquely.’ Poetry, prose, and more. https://www.theglobalyouthreview.com/submissions
15th Jan ‘Thank you for considering Room for the publication of your original short stories, poems, creative non-fiction, or art. Room publishes fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, and art by folks of marginalized genders, including but not limited to women (cisgender and transgender), transgender men, Two-Spirit and nonbinary people.’ Theme: Audacity. PAYING https://roommagazine.com/submit/
15th Jan Poetry and prose on the theme of Boundaries. http://sotospeakjournal.org/guidelines/
21st Jan ‘We accept writing from all self-identifying women, transgender, nonbinary and marginalised people who identify with the experience of gender inequality.’ Writing on the theme of Inheritance. https://deardamsels.com/2021/12/02/theme-inheritance/
21st Jan Poetry, prose and more on the theme of Flow. PAYING https://sites.lsa.umich.edu/mixtape/get-in-contact/
21st Jan or 26th Jan Poetry, prose and more on the theme of Sense and Splendor. (sic) https://vassar-review.vassarspaces.net/contact/ (Cathy’s note: both dates are given in the call, one at the top and one in the letter-style window that starts with the quotation. It’s NYE and I don’t have time to check which is correct!)
23rd Jan Australians under 25 only: Poetry and fiction on the theme of Portrait. PAYING https://www.voiceworksmag.com.au/print
30th Jan Authors over 40 only: ‘Seeking winter-themed short literary works. Poems, short stories, literary non-fiction. PROSE limit 5,000 words. THEME for all pieces: Think Northern Lights, candles against the darkness, the rolling year, spirits (both in a glass and in the ether), warm hearths.’ PAYING https://devilspartypress.com/submissions/
30th Jan Poetry, fiction and CNF on the theme of Snowscape. https://www.moonflakepress.com/submit
30th Jan ‘A multimedia project inspired by the electrosymphonic album “Wayward & Upward” by Spinoza Gambit. The music already exists. Your job is to come up with stories and poems that resonate.’ Poems and stories. PAYING https://offtopicpublishing.com/opencalls/
31st Jan ‘For a new notebook on The Margins, we’re looking for original and translated poetry and short prose works by Asian and Asian diasporic writers that center stories, images, and sensations related to the transformative influence of wine.’ PAYING https://aaww.submittable.com/submit
31st Jan ‘Speculative stories focusing on queerness in the darker side of science-fiction, fantasy and horror: mechs, mecha and cybernetics as both extensions and perversions of humanity.’ ‘Under 6,000 words. 1-4,000 words is probably the sweet spot.’ PAYING https://www.neonhemlock.com/submissions
31st Jan Poetry, microfiction, short fiction and more on the theme of Earth. http://www.ilanotreview.com/submissions-page/ (Cathy’s note: their free submissions are capped at 500, so don’t wait until the last minute to submit!)
31st Jan Poetry on the theme of Culture and Identity. ‘Use your skills as a poet to tell us about YOUR OWN particular cultural identity, heritage, nationality or social and ethnic background.’ CONTRIBUTOR COPY/COPIES (MAY BE PRINT OR DIGITAL) https://www.thepoetmagazine.org/contribute
31st Jan ‘Bibliotheca Alexandrina is seeking submissions for With an Adamantine Sickle: A Devotional for the Titans. The editor is interested in a variety of material, including but not limited to: prayers, poems, rituals, hymns, essays, visual artwork, short stories, plays, recipes, and new translations of ancient and public domain works.’ CONTRIBUTOR COPY/COPIES (MAY BE PRINT OR DIGITAL) https://neosalexandria.org/bibliotheca-alexandrina/calls-for-submissions/with-an-adamantine-sickle-a-devotional-for-the-titans/
31st Jan ‘Romance can be difficult on its own, even before adding the complications of time travel to the equation. These couples find themselves from separate timelines in history, but cross paths due to unforeseen circumstances.’ ROYALTIES https://dragonsoulpress.com/anthologies/
31st Jan ‘Be it day or night, the forest hides its secrets from our eyes. Whether you find yourself alone or with others, its innocence can be deceiving, and its inhabitants deadly. What horrors await within the wooded land where nature reigns supreme?’ 2000-8000 words. PAYING http://sirenscallpub.com/open_subs.htm
31st Jan 101 word story on the theme of Flowers/Romantic Comedy. https://www.tortivetheatre.com/flash101
31st Jan Theme: Shared Worlds. ‘All works should be based in a well-established fictional world and should obey that world’s rules and customs, and we should be able to recognize that fictional world from your work. Works may NOT be based around major characters or previously published stories from those worlds, although they may be mentioned. NonBinary Review is a quarterly digital literary journal that joins poetry, fiction, essays, and art around each issue’s theme.’ PAYING https://nonbinaryreview.submittable.com/submit/202881/nbr-27-shared-worlds
31st Jan ‘Theme: PLACE. Sometimes referred to as landscape or regionalist work. We seek a strong sense of Place that is integral to the poem’s existence, even when it simply means a room or a house, or the locale is not specifically identified. We don’t want inventories or mere geographical descriptions, but “geography wedded to its people,” as CD Wright put it.’ CONTRIBUTOR COPY/COPIES (MAY BE PRINT OR DIGITAL) https://www.bluehorsepress.com/
31st Jan ‘The Other Journal welcomes the submission of critical essays, reviews, creative writing, and visual or performance art that encounter life through the lens of theology and culture; we seek pieces that consider the interaction of faith with contemporary life, art, politics, sexuality, technology, economics, and social justice.’ Theme: Organizing. https://theotherjournal.com/submissions/
1st Feb ‘We want stories about magic portals that open up to other places, other worlds, other times, or just other. Where to, and what happens there is up to you… Reprints, poetry, flash fiction, and B&W art are welcome and will be paid at 1/2 rate of original stories.’ ROYALTIES https://knightwritingpress.com/magic-portals/
1st Feb ‘We want stories about wishes granted. Whether they played out the way the wisher wanted is up to you… Reprints, poetry, flash fiction, and B&W art are welcome and will be paid at 1/2 rate of original stories.’ ROYALTIES https://knightwritingpress.com/magic-portals/
1st Feb Poetry and prose. PAYING https://www.thetemzreview.com/submissions.html
1st Feb Fiction, poetry and more with the first line: ‘Rayna sat in front of the mirror removing her makeup and wondered who she would discover underneath.’ PAYING http://www.thefirstline.com/index.htm
1st Feb ‘Halfway Down the Stairs publishes poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, and book reviews.’ Theme: Frontiers. https://halfwaydownthestairs.net/submissions/
(Publishers might not give out their pay rates on their submission pages, so make sure to find them out before signing a contract!)
‘Minyan Magazine publishes poetry and flash fiction written by Jews and their allies alongside one another. Although we like work with a Jewish theme, we also enjoy work with secular themes. Send us your best, regardless of the theme!Unsolicited manuscripts of three to five previously unpublished poems or up to three flash fiction stories are welcome year-round.’ http://www.minyanmag.com/submissions.html
‘At Ahoy, we believe our sacred duty is to find new voices and let them scream at the world. Thus, each Ahoy Comics magazine will include at least one piece of short fiction or social commentary. We seek smart, weird, funny articles or stories, which run between 500 and 1,500 words. Mostly, we want short fiction for mature readers, pieces that uphold the story-telling legacy of comics. It could be a delirious rant, a personal anecdote, a tale of horror or even poetry. It can be about anything, but we have a soft spot for submissions with a dash of humor.’ PAYING https://comicsahoy.com/submissions
MSS of fiction or nonfiction. https://www.windingroadstories.com/ (Cathy’s note: there’s absolutely no info about the pay structure, so do find out before signing anything. Fingers crossed they don’t charge anything! If they do, I suggest trying elsewhere. Looks nice though)
‘If you have a manuscript ready, we are interested in reading and potentially publishing it. This will be a completely traditional publishing process. At no point will we be forcing the author to buy back hundreds of copies of their own books.
We are interested in Novel or Novella length manuscripts in the following genres – Humor, Horror, Romance, Thriller/ Mystery, Drama, Fantasy/ Science Fiction
At present, we are not looking at Poetry, Non-fiction, short story collections, or memoirs. If you have a manuscript or an idea for a manuscript, get in touch with us through e-mail. thehivepublishers(at)gmail(dot)com and we’ll take things from there.’ https://thehivepublishers.com/about/
‘Neatly genred or genre-bending, classically styled or modern, we want your prettiest, most pungent dread. Give us withering romance, creatures that lurk and lure, families to be feared and houses that haunt; give us isolation and creeping, oppressive unwellness. Quietly thrill, terrify, and leave us wanting more.’ Poetry and prose. PAYING https://www.dietmilkmag.com/
‘SORTES considers unsolicited submissions of poetry, prose, illustration, music, videos, and anything else you think may fit our format. Feel free to poke us; we’d love to find a way to publish dance, sculpture, puzzles, and other un-literary modalities.’ https://sortes.co/#submissioncontact
‘We’re looking for short stories, poetry, prose, comedy, humor, satire, interviews, exposés, essays, narratives, opinion articles, commentaries, fiction, nonfiction, flash, activist pieces, historical pieces, research, infographics, how-tos and more. When in doubt, send it our way!’ https://www.birdymagazine.com/submissions/#SubmitGuidelines
Speculative (plus espionage/thriller) novels and novellas. ADVANCE + ROYALTIES https://www.ravencanticlepress.com/submissions/
– Also scroll down for: ‘VALRAVN is our yearly annual of “wyrd fiction” short stories (3,000 to 10,000 words). We also publish anthologies as the mood strikes us. These guidelines are similar to our novel/novella guidelines above, but there are key differences, so we’d recommend you read carefully.’ PAYING https://www.ravencanticlepress.com/submissions/
‘We are looking for literary and experimental flash fiction and prose poetry in the following categories: micro fiction or prose poetry under 250 words, and flash fiction or prose poetry between 250 and 500 words.’ PAYING https://landluckreview.com/submissions/