No Fee Short Story and Poetry Writing Contests
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No Fee Short Story and Poetry Writing Contests

A list of short story and poetry writing contests that does not require a reading free or registration fee. Entering short story and poetry writing contests can be a stepping stone to breakthrough the mainstream publication market.

Have a short story gathering dusts in your drawer? Most writers, at some point or other whether only starting up or getting jaded by constant rejection, have that secret dream of getting their story published. Deciding to be a fiction writer can sometimes be a shooting the clouds sort of endeavor. But the good news is as long as you are alive you can keep trying. A century ago it would have been difficult just finding a publication who will actually publish your story. With the internet age though every information is just a click of a mouse button. Writing articles on line is practical and pays well. If you are an aspiring writer though, there is that certain void that online article writing for sites like factoidz just couldn't fill.

Try entering writing contests. It's a good way to practice and gauge readers response to your way of writing. Most easily found writing contests online though would require a reading fee. That's right, they will ask you to pay a certain amount just to have your stories read by the panel of judges. Fortunately though, there are still a few that are free to enter. All of which of course require original and never before published short stories and poems.


Spinetinglers is a site for horror story writers. The stories don't need to be macabre nor full of gore. An uplifting story can even be considered as long as it make a reader's spine tingle. They require a maximum of 5000 words in your short story so don't go overboard and start writing a novel. Each month they choose 5 outstanding horror stories with a chance to be published in their yearly anthology. Spinetinglers is a UK based site but will accept well-written, spine tingling stories from anywhere in the known world. They also have an active forum where you can discuss horror writing stuffs with fellow enthusiasts or talk about the latest winners of the month. Prizes are 25 pounds for the 3rd, 4th and 5th placer, yes that's in British pounds but if you live outside the UK you will get whatever is the equivalent in your local currency, the 2nd placer will get 50 pounds and the 1st placer will get 100 pounds. Although no fee is required to enter the monthly contest you still need to open a free account with Spinetinglers to submit your horror story. For some ideas on how to start your horror short story you may check out my article How to Become a Thriller Writer .

Poetry Foundation

Poetry Foundation is owned by the Chicago based Poetry Magazine whose aim is to "discover and celebrate the best poetry and to place it before the largest possible audience." They accept poetry and short story submissions for publication year round. Aside from getting published, your short story or poem could also qualify to be considered in the annual contests open to those works that have been accepted and published in the Poetry Magazine. Prizes awarded for winners of these contests can be as much as $1000. Writers whose poetry and short story submissions get accepted for publication are paid $10 per line (minimum payment of $300), and $150 per page of prose for serial rights. The Poetry Foundation accepts submissions electronically or via snail mail. You will also need to open a free account with them to submit electronically but no fees will be collected for submitting your short story or poems.

The BBC International Short Story Award 2012

The BBC International Short Story Award is open to all writers writing in English all over the world. There is one glitch though, although no fee is required to enter the contest the writer needs to have published at least one article in a British publication. For more details on the contest's terms and conditions click here. This contest is now considered to be the most prestigious among short story writing competitions with its 15,000 pounds prize for the winning author. This year's submission is open until February 27, 2012 at 5pm.

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Comments (7)

good article, I don't go into any contests though

Thanks Carol. I thought it might be useful though for those who do want to try.

Thanks for sharing this. I'll check out the sites...

Hope to see you published in one of them soon. :-) the deadline for the BBC contest though is Feb, and they won't open again until next year at this time, the other two is year round and no need to have been published anywhere before.

Very helpful for anyone looking to enter contests which han=ve no entrance fees.

UPDATE: Amazon also has a contest for General Fiction and one for Young Adult Fiction. Winners will receive a contract with Penguin with a $15,000 advance. Open submissions for manuscripts will begin on January 23, 2012 and run through February 5, 2012. Click here for more information:

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