One of the joys of writing, whether you’re a young writer in school, or a seasoned published author with multiple titles under your belt, is participating in writing contests.
Submitting a short story, or poetry, or a longer piece of work such as a novella or memoir in a competition has a number of benefits.
One is you’ll get the opportunity to practice your writing and work towards a goal, which is to submit the best piece of work you can to a competition deadline.
Secondly, you can get some constructive feedback on your work from assessing panels.
Thirdly, there is the opportunity to be awarded a cash prize if either you win a competition, or you’re a runner up or even third as is the case in certain competitions.
Winning some money is never a bad thing!
Fourthly, there is the opportunity to raise your profile as a writer within your community and the genre in which you write in.
Getting acknowledged as a winner of a competition, or even making it to the final two or three can bring with it publicity opportunities in local radio, newspapers, magazines, the internet and even local television. This can lead to you developing contacts with influential individuals and organisations in the publishing industry, which can either help to kickstart your career as a writer, or enhance an existing one.
And if you’re a writer in Australia looking for a writing contest this post is especially for you.
Below we’ve featured 9 top writing competitions in Australia you may want to make a submission to. There’s something for all ages in the following list, with competitions for primary school children all the way to adults 18 years and older.
If you do wish to submit entries to any of the following, do a take a good look at the terms and conditions of each before you do so.
The Boroondara Literary Awards are run by the Council and the Rotary Club of Balwyn, The Boroondara Literary Awards have been taking place since 1999 and aim to inspire people to undertake creative endeavours and discover talent from within the community. In addition, the awards help to encourage members of the community to take up reading.
The 2018 awards have two categories that are an Open Short Story Competition and the Young Writers Competition. Open to all residents of Australia, the required length for the Open Short Story Competition is 1,500 – 3000 words and 1st place wins $1,500, 2nd place wins $1000 and 3rd place gets $500. There is also a special award by the best entry from a resident of Boroondara called the Keith Carroll Award; winners of this award get $500. The deadline for entries is 5 pm on 31st August 2018, and entries can be made at the form at this page, which also contains the terms and conditions for the competition. Be sure to read these before you make a submission.
The Young Writers Competition has several categories, which include Junior Writers – Prose and Poetry (for young people in school level years 5 – 6), Middle Writers – Poetry and Prose (for young people in school level years 7- 9) and Senior Writers – Poetry and Prose (for young people in school years 10 -12 or for 15-18 year olds who are not in secondary school).
Each of these categories have their own word limits for both poetry and prose submissions and amounts of cash given as awards. For example, for Junior Writers – Prose and Poetry, 1st place is $300, 2nd place is $200, and the 3rd place is $100 for both prose and poetry submissions. The 1st place cash award for the Middle Writers – Prose and Poetry category is $450, 2nd place is $300 and the 3rd place is $150. The 1st place cash award for the Senior Writers – Poetry and Prose is $600, 2nd place is $400, and 3rd place is $200. You can find terms and conditions and a form to make you entry at this page. The deadline for this competition is also 31st August.
Sisters in Crime Australia Inc was set up in 1991 to celebrate women’s crime writing both in books and on television and film. The organisation also holds an annual crime short story competition called the Scarlet Stiletto Awards, which is open to women only. The Sisters in Crime Australia’s 25th Scarlet Stiletto Awards has on offer almost $10,000 in cash awards. You can take a look at the full list of awards here, with prize money ranging from $200 of $1000 per award. The deadline for the Scarlet Stiletto Awards is 31st August 2018. The maximum length for short stories is 5000 words and there is an entry fee of $20 for members of Sisters in Crime and $25 for non-members. Do read the terms and conditions and frequently asked questions first; this document also provides information on how you can submit your story and lists acceptable categories for stories. You’ll also need to make payment for your entry.
The C.J. Dennis Society was formed in 2010 in honour of the poet C.J. Dennis, and the annual The 2018 Toolangi CJ Dennis Poetry Competition is open for submissions. There are several categories where submissions can be made. One of these is Open Poetry (Marian Mayne Prize). The word limit for this category is a maximum of 80 lines, and 1st place wins $250, 2nd place wins $150 and 3rd place gets $100. Another category is Open Short Story (CJ Dennis Society Prize). The prize money for this category is $250 for 1st place, $150 for second place and $100 for 3rd place. Stories submitted to this category need to be a maximum of 500 words. Another category is Poems Written by Adults for Children. First place for this category is $250, second place is $150 and third place is $100. With this category there is also a prize of $150 for the poem deemed to the best one by a group of local youngsters.
There is also a category for Primary school children; prize monies for this category are $30 for first place, $20 for second place and $30 for third place. Secondary school children (years 7-12) is yet another category and cash awards for this one are $50 for first place, $30 for second place, and $20 for third place.
The deadline for this competition is 15th August 2018, student entries are free, and adult entries cost $10 and also $3 in unused stamps. You can find full details about the competition, its rules and how you can submit an entry at this page.
The Fellowship of Australian Writers FAW NSW Walter Stone 2018 Life Writing Award is for works defined as a Life Writing; examples of this include an autobiography, a biography, memoir, or bibliography. If you would like to submit any of these, are a resident of Australia, and are 18 years old, you have a chance to win $1000. The word count is 10,000 to 25,000 maximum. An extract from an autobiography, or biography is acceptable in order to meet this word count. There is an entry fee of $25 per entry and the deadline for entries is 31st August 2018. Please take a look at the full terms and conditions of the competition which can be found on the entry form.
Fellowship of Australian Writers Queensland is currently running the FAWQ 2018 Literary Competition, which it holds annually. There are three categories in the competition. These are Short Story (to 2000 words), Flash Fiction (to 300 words) and Poetry (to 40 lines). The prizes for each of these categories are $200 for the First Prize, $100 for the Second Prize, and $50 for the Third Prize. The competition is open to all writers, and your work needs to be unpublished, original and not have won a prize in another competition. You can submit to either one category, or to all three. The fee for submitting to one category is $5 or $12 for all three. The deadline for the competition is 30th June 2018. You can find out further information at this page and download a submission form here.
The Dorothea Mackellar Poetry Awards are run by The Dorothea Mackellar Memorial Society, an organisation that aims to promote the famous poet and fiction writer and her work. The awards themselves are designed to help give a voice to young people in Australia. With entries being accepted until 30th June 2018, there are a number of award categories and prizes. The categories including Lower Primary (Years K – 3), Upper Primary (Years 4 – 6, Including Year 7 in SA), Assisted Learning Primary, Junior Secondary (Years 7 – 9), Senior Secondary (Year 10 – 12), Assisted Learning Secondary, Multicultural NSW Award and Schools Award. Cash that can be won in these awards vary depending on whether an entry is selected as winner, or runner up.
To give you an idea of prizes, the winner of the Lower Primary (Years K – 3) would receive $300, a trophy and a prize pack. The runner up would receive $150 and a prize pack. As another example, the winner of the Junior Secondary (Years 7 – 9) would receive $500, a trophy and a prize pack, while the runner up would get $300 and a prize pack. If you’re wondering what makes up a prize pack, it is a trophy, and a collection of books. Take a look here for full details of categories that can be submitted to you and the prizes awarded for winners and runners up. Do ensure you read the conditions of entry, which also provides information about fees. Information on how you can enter and who needs to submit entries can be found at this page.
If you want to participate in a poetry competition, then the FAW NSW Jean Stone 2018 Poetry Award may be of interest with $500 up for grabs. You can submit a poem or a set of poems up to 60 lines. You need to be a resident of Australia and over 18 years old to be eligible to submit an entry. The entry fee of this competition is $10 per entry, and you can read the full terms and conditions on the entry form. The closing date for this competition is 31st August 2018, and expect an invitation to the annual FAW NSW Awards Presentation Luncheon taking place in Sydney in November if you win.
Run by the Australian Catholic University the2018 ACU Prize for Poetry has two key goals. These are supporting writers and furthering the Catholic Church’s activities as strong advocates of the creative arts. An annual competition, this year’s will award brilliant poetry that is based on an Empathy theme. The prize money for this competition is $10,000 for First Prize, $5000 for Second Prize and $3000 for Third Prize. The deadline for entries is 20th July 2018 and is open to all Australian residents. Poems need to be unpublished and $25 covers the cost of entry per poem. You can enter online or through mail. Take a look here more details.
If you’ve written your debut novel and it belongs to the young adult or middle-grade genres and it is unpublished, you may want to submit an entry to the Ampersand Prize. An annual competition run by independent publisher Hardie Grant Egmont, if you were to win this competition, you would receive a publishing contract, an advance against royalties and complete editorial support all the way up to getting your book onto the market. The Ampersand Prize will start taking submissions from 2nd July until 20th July 2018. You can sign up to Hardie Grant Egmont’s newsletter to keep up to date with developments on the 2018 Amperstand Prize.
Are you aware of other Australian writing competitions? If so, please tell us more in the comments box below!
Hiten Vyas is the Founder and Managing Editor of Writing Tips Oasis.