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A Guide to Literary Publishing for Emerging Writers (2023-2024)

Updated: Sep 27, 2023

By Ziyi Yan, with help from the staff of The Dawn Review


 

Read it on our blog, or download the PDF below!

A Guide to Literary Publishing for Emerging Writers
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Table of Contents:


 

Guide to the guide:


First of all, who is this guide even for? It's for people who are unfamiliar with literary publishing. It’s for experienced writers browsing for new opportunities. It’s for people interested in The Dawn Review’s hot takes. I think people of any age can be “emerging writers,” and every writer is an “emerging writer” in some sense, so there’s something in this guide for everyone. That said, many of the opportunities we list are dedicated specifically to young writers, because a) many young writers are emerging writers, b) I offered to send my submission calendar to one of my English teachers for her class, and then took two months to make this instead, and c) many of us at Dawn are young writers, so that’s the area where we have the most expertise.


This guide contains information about submission strategies, literary magazines, summer programs, contests, and more! The publications and contests listed here are the ones that we consider to be fairly well known, but there are a plethora of other resources linked in the “Additional Resources” section! Personally, I feel that looking through a large database in order to find opportunities can be exhausting. At the same time, looking for opportunities through individual articles and newsletters can be limiting. This is why I rely more on informal guides and submission calendars made by my friends– it’s also why I’m compiling this list of journals and contests, in order to simplify the submission process for you. Let’s begin!

 

Submission Strategies:


Before you get started sending your work out, there are a few things you should keep in mind!


First: your accolades don’t define your worth as a writer.


It’s great practice to think of publication/recognition as a way to grow alongside others. When you put your work out there, you are forming connections with new people, and potentially giving them an important experience. At the same time, you’re giving yourself the opportunity to grow as a writer. If you see the writing world as a big game where you need to network and collect publications in order to “score points,” you’ll never be fully satisfied. After all, as we say in all of our rejection emails, writing is inherently subjective. Sometimes, a magazine will reject your wonderful piece about puppies solely because it already accepted three wonderful pieces about puppies in its previous issue. Sometimes, if you take a risk with your work, a contest won’t understand your vision. As an emerging writer, developing your voice and nurturing your relationship with your work should be a top priority.


Second: carefully choose what to submit, and when to submit it.


You don’t need to publish every piece of writing you create. Publish the work that feels ready to you– and if some pieces never feel ready, that’s okay. Personally, most of my work takes a few months to feel ready, though this varies for everyone. During the revision process, I typically seek advice, revise, clear my head by NOT thinking about my piece for a few weeks, and then repeat the cycle until I’m happy. Writing communities, educational programs, and even your friends can be valuable resources during the revision process.


Whenever you’re ready for publication, seek out a few dream publications or contests for your piece. In researching these publications and contests, you should look on their website in order to gauge the kind of work they like to publish, and make sure that they are open to publishing your piece. Keep in mind that many literary magazines accept submissions from everyone, unless otherwise specified. That said, certain contests and publications want certain styles of writing, submissions from certain demographics, or work dealing with certain topics. Also keep in mind that some journals are only online, some are in print, and some use a mix of both– often, print journals will offer free or discounted issues for contributors. Finally, some journals have opportunities for submitters to receive feedback or expedited responses for a fee. We included all of these details for each magazine on our list.


Often, dream publications are the ones that afford you more visibility– whether it be through widely distributed print issues, large online followings, or both. Dream publications should publish work that you love and abide by values that you support. They may also be paying magazines, or magazines that provide unique opportunities for contributors. Unfortunately, dream publications often have lower acceptance rates and lower response times. That said, your dream publication for each piece can vary. For example, if you have a very experimental piece of writing, or a multimedia work, your dream publication might be a more niche magazine.


Usually, it’s okay to submit to all of your dream publications/contests at the same time (this is called a simultaneous submission). However, specific magazines (often those with short response times) will ask for no simultaneous submissions. If one of your dream publications doesn’t accept simultaneous submissions, submit to that one first. If your piece is accepted by a dream publication or contest, you will likely have to withdraw it from everywhere else. This is because many places don’t accept work that has been previously published. Each individual magazine/contest will have its own policy on previous publications and withdrawals.


Keep in mind that different publications have different response times. It’s a good idea to submit to publications with long response times first– that way, you won’t get accepted by one magazine before you even have a chance to hear from another magazine. If you don’t get accepted by your dream publications, you can then send your work to more accessible magazines.


Once you submit to a magazine, you should write it down for personal record-keeping. I do this by creating a simple list on Google Docs of all of the magazines and contests I’ve submitted to, the pieces I’ve submitted, and the date that I submitted. I highlight pieces in green for acceptances, red for rejections, and yellow for tiered rejections. Many writers also keep a submission calendar, where they list the initiatives that they’d like to submit to in the future, and the deadlines for each initiative.


You can use our brief list of literary magazines and our chronological list of contests to pick out some of the publications you want to submit to! Don’t be deterred by rejections– it could take dozens of submissions for you to find a home for your work. That said, if you receive a tiered rejection (meaning, a rejection with a few words of encouragement), or submit to a magazine that provides feedback (such as ours!), you might want to make revisions based on the feedback you receive. Similarly, if someone new has read your piece, you can use their thoughts to continue to revise. Often, a piece is never truly “done,” and a new round of revisions can lead to new discoveries, or a new piece entirely. Personally though, when I receive more than twenty rejections for a piece, I think it’s time to take a closer look at the piece itself, or reconsider where I’m sending it.


Third: know what NOT to do.


Don’t plagiarize. If you write a poem inspired by somebody, write a note that your poem was “after” [insert amazing poet]. Don’t break magazine policies about simultaneous submissions and previous publications. Don’t apply for things you aren’t eligible for. Don’t lie on publishing contracts. Most times, magazines will take you at your word, and you can get away with whatever you want. However, if you are found violating policies, magazines may blacklist you, and your reputation as a writer will be damaged. More importantly though, breaking magazine policies will undermine the hard work of all of their editors. Submissions in bad faith will also tarnish the authenticity that is central to powerful writing. Most publications, contests, and educational programs can be easily reached by email, so if you ever have a question about eligibility, submission guidelines, or anything else, reach out and ask!


 

Submission Logistics:


Submission formats:


Most journals and some contests use Submittable as a submissions platform. To submit, you will need to make a Submittable account. Some magazines will use Submission Manager, where you will need to make a magazine-specific account. Still other magazines use Duosuma, Google Forms, email submissions, or other forms of submissions.


Submittable has a feature where you can click on “Submissions” at the top of the page, view all of your submissions, and see whether they are in-progress, accepted, or rejected. Submittable also has a “withdraw,” button, which will automatically withdraw your entire submission, which is helpful in the case that your submission gets accepted elsewhere. Finally, on the “Messages,” tab, editors of a magazine will often communicate with you about publishing contracts and other information. If you want to withdraw part of your submission (and not the entire submission), you will also likely be using the “messages” function on Submittable.


Whenever you submit, make sure to follow all guidelines and formats exactly! Sometimes, magazines will automatically reject your submission if you don’t abide by their guidelines.


How to write a cover letter:


When submitting, many literary magazines will ask you for a cover letter, or give you the option to include one. A cover letter can be a great way to distinguish yourself and your submission! Here is a quick guide to how to write one.


  1. Address the cover letter to the people who will be reading your work! A good way to do this is to look at the “masthead” page on the magazine’s website in order to find the names of the editors.

  2. Tell the editors the names of the pieces you are submitting, and whether they are simultaneous submissions.

  3. Feel free to add a small personalized note about what you like about the magazine, a specific piece you read from the magazine that you enjoy, or a description of who you are as a writer. Make sure to keep this part short and sweet!

  4. Thank the editors for their consideration.

  5. Often, you will be asked to attach a short biography beneath your cover letter. This biography should generally be in third person unless otherwise specified. Within, you should include some information about your education/occupation, the accolades you have, and your recent publications. If you don’t have many accolades or publications yet, that’s completely okay! Magazines will generally still read your work with the same degree of care. Again, make sure to keep your biography short. Usually, it’s a safe bet to list your top three publications, your top few accolades, and a fun fact about yourself.


Below is an example of a cover letter done well. The Dawn Review doesn’t require cover letters due to our blind reading process, but here is what a potential cover letter to The Dawn Review would look like:


Dear Ziyi Yan and the editors of The Dawn Review,


My name is John Doe, and I am submitting two poems, entitled “DearJack Doe,” and “My Sister Jane Doe,” to The Dawn Review. These poems are both simultaneous submissions, and I will withdraw them immediately if they are accepted elsewhere. I love The Dawn Review for how it highlights emerging voices, and I especially love the poem “Votum” by Elizabeth Ip. My third-person biography is attached below. Thank you so much for your consideration!


Sincerely,

John Doe


Bio: John Doe is a writer from Traverse City, Michigan. His work has been published in DIAGRAM, Cream City Review, and COUNTERCLOCK. He is a three time Pushcart Prize nominee. In addition to writing, he loves playing sudoku.


Prize Nominations:


Many magazines nominate published pieces for anthologies such as the Pushcart Prizes, Best of the Net, Best Short Fictions, and Best Microfiction. At The Dawn Review, we nominate for the Pushcart Prizes and Best of the Net. Nominations themselves are quite common, as each magazine can nominate several pieces per year. However, each anthology is very selective in curating pieces from its nominations. Below, we have listed the most popular anthologies that take nominations from literary magazines.


The Pushcart Prize anthology, founded in 1976 by Pushcart Press, showcases the best poetry, short fiction, essays, and more from small presses around the world. Each magazine can nominate up to 6 pieces (in-print or online) yearly for the prize.


The Best of the Net anthology, founded in 2006 by Sundress Publications, showcases the best work that has originally appeared online. Each magazine can nominate up to six poems, two stories, two works of creative nonfiction, and three works of art yearly for the anthology.


The Best Small Fictions anthology, founded in 2015 and distributed by Alternating Current Press, showcases the best flash fiction, microfiction, haibun stories, and prose poems published around the world. Each magazine can nominate up to five pieces of work yearly for the anthology.


The Best Microfiction anthology, distributed by Pelekinesis Press, showcases the best fiction under 400 words published around the world.


The Best New Poets anthology, founded in 2005 and distributed by University of Virginia Press, showcases the best 50 poems from emerging writers. Literary magazines in print based in the US and Canada, as well as graduate programs in the US and Canada, can each nominate two poets yearly. The nominees themselves can come from any part of the world. Ultimately, 50 poets are selected each year for the anthology.


The Best Spiritual Literature anthology, formerly called the Orison Anthology, by Orison Books, showcases the best published spiritual literature, as well as new work from The Best Spiritual Literature Awards.


Of course, the word “best” is subjective– magazine editors are informed by their personal tastes in choosing what (if anything) to nominate, and anthology editors are also guided by their personal tastes while curating work for these prizes. Magazines will list on their website whether they nominate for these anthologies and more!


 

A Brief List of Magazines:


This list of magazines has two categories. The first category contains more well-known publications that are still known to promote emerging writers. The second category contains more accessible publications, including those dedicated specifically toward younger writers. We list whether each magazine publishes in print or online, the type of work accepted, reading periods, response times, feedback options (if any), submission fees (if any), and payment for contributors (if any). We also include a link to the magazine and its submission guidelines. Please note that this information only applies to general submissions– some magazines run contests and other initiatives with different guidelines, submission fees, etc.


Some of the magazines we list have set submission periods. Others have rolling submissions (meaning that submissions are always open), and still others have sporadic reading periods (meaning that there are no set reading periods, and submissions open whenever the editors decide). If you want to submit to a journal with sporadic reading periods, it can be a good idea to subscribe to their email list, so that you can know right away when they are accepting work.


Finally, some of these magazines list their response times. The websites of most magazines will state that, if you haven’t received a response to your work after a certain amount of time, you can query the editors about the status of your submission by sending them a quick email. If you want to find out the response time of a journal that doesn’t list response times on their websites, you can visit their page on Duotrope or Chill Subs (more on these in the “Additional Resources” section).


First up, some more well-known publications, open to submissions from all creatives, that are still known to promote emerging writers:


Adroit Journal: An online quarterly journal publishing poetry, prose, and art. Adroit is “looking for work that’s bizarre, authentic, subtle, outrageous, indefinable, raw, paradoxical.” In addition to its general submissions, Adroit runs the Adroit Prizes for poetry and prose, as well as the Adroit Journal Summer Mentorhsip (more on those later).

  • Reading periods: Open sporadically.

  • Response time: 3-6 months.

  • Submission fee: None.

  • Payment: $50 per accepted contributor.

  • Feedback: None.

  • Submission guidelines: Click here.

Cream City Review: A print journal publishing twice yearly, welcoming submissions of poetry, prose, and art. Cream City Review is continually “seeking to explore the relationship between form and content.”

  • Reading periods: Open from August 1-November 1 and January 2-March 2.

  • Response time: 4-8 months.

  • Submission fee: $2.50 per submission.

  • Payment: None.

  • Feedback: None.

  • Submission guidelines: Click here.

Diode Poetry Journal: An online poetry journal publishing three times yearly that welcomes “all types of poetry (including, but not limited to, narrative, experimental, visual, found and erasure poetry),” as well as “poetry in translation, and collaborative poems.”

  • Reading periods: Rolling submissions.

  • Response time: 1 month; often responds within 5 days.

  • Submission fee: None.

  • Payment: None.

  • Feedback: None.

  • Submission guidelines: Click here.

Frontier Poetry: An online poetry journal publishing new work weekly. Frontier promotes “poets and poems that strive to place themselves at the edge of what language can do.” In addition to its regular submissions, Frontier runs a variety of contests year-round.

  • Reading periods: Rolling submissions.

  • Response time: 2-3 months.

    • Expedited responses available for BIPOC authors; expedited responses for non-BIPOC authors available for purchase.

  • Submission fee: None for “New Voices,” the general submission category; contests have fees.

  • Payment: $50 per accepted poem.

  • Feedback: Feedback available for purchase.

  • Submission guidelines: Click here.

Hong Kong Review: An online quarterly journal for short stories, novellas, excerpts of novels, poems, creative nonfiction, critical essays, translations of poetry or short prose, and artwork.

  • Reading periods: Open sporadically.

  • Response time: Unsure.

  • Submission fee: $3 per submission.

  • Payment: None.

  • Feedback: None.

  • Submission guidelines: Click here.

Kissing Dynamite: An online poetry and art journal. Kissing Dynamite curates monthly issues containing twelve poems which are united around a theme in order to “present multiple facets of a theme/topic/issue to break the narrative of ‘the single story.” Kissing Dynamite chooses a featured poet for each month.

  • Reading periods: Rolling submissions. Their reading period for the next month ends on the 7th of each month.

  • Response time: 1 month; responses are sent by the last day of the month during each respective consideration window.

  • Submission fee: None.

  • Payment: None.

  • Feedback: None.

  • Submission guidelines: Click here.

Milk Candy Review: An online literary magazine publishing flash fiction. Milk Candy Review publishes one story per week, and brief interviews with each contributor.

  • Reading periods: Rolling submissions.

  • Response time: 1 week.

  • Submission fee: None.

  • Payment: None.

  • Feedback: None.

  • Submission guidelines: Click here.

Okay Donkey: An online literary magazine publishing one piece weekly, accepting submissions of flash fiction, poetry, and genre-bending work. Okay Donkey loves “the odd, the off-kilter, and the just plain weird.”

  • Reading periods: Submissions open monthly until a submission cap is reached.

  • Response time: 3-4 months.

  • Submission fee: None.

  • Payment: None.

  • Feedback: None.

  • Submission guidelines: Click here.

One Art: An online poetry journal, publishing a new poem every few days. One Art has a “preference for concise free verse (but will consider formal poems that read in the manner of free verse). ”

  • Reading periods: Rolling submissions.

  • Response time: 1-5 days.

  • Submission fee: None.

  • Payment: None.

  • Feedback: None.

  • Submission guidelines: Click here.

Rust & Moth: An online and print quarterly poetry journal dedicated to highlighting traditionally unheard narratives and work that “errs on the side of immediacy, strong images, and heartfelt innovation.”

  • Reading periods: Submissions are open in the months of March, June, September, and December

  • Response time: Within 6 weeks.

  • Submission fee: None.

  • Payment: None.

  • Feedback: None.

  • Submission guidelines: Click here

Waxwing: An online journal publishing three issues yearly. Waxwing accepts poetry, fiction, essays, interviews, reviews, art, and music, as well as international literature in translation.

  • Reading periods: Submissions open monthly until a submission cap of 300 is reached.

  • Response time: 1-5 days.

  • Submission fee: None.

  • Payment: None.

  • Feedback: None.

  • Submission guidelines: Click here.

Next, more accessible publications, including those dedicated specifically toward younger writers.


Aster Lit: An online quarterly journal publishing poetry and prose by writers under 25 years old and seeking to add “a few more layers of complexity, nuance, and new perspectives—to the literary world.” Each issue has a theme, and the “Starlit Award” is awarded to the top contributors from each issue.

  • Reading periods: Open four times a year. Check website/socials for specific dates.

  • Response time: Up to 2 weeks after submissions close.

    • 24 hour submission periods open sporadically.

  • Submission fee: None.

  • Payment: None, though the winner of the Starlit Award will receive a monetary prize.

  • Feedback: Available for purchase.

  • Submission guidelines: Click here.

COUNTERCLOCK: An online quarterly journal for poetry, prose, and art. Its mission is “to heal, destigmatize, and empower through the arts, both literary and visual; to explore the diversity, complexity, and resilience of the human experience.” In addition to general submissions, COUNTERCLOCK runs the COUNTERCLOCK Writer’s Awards.

  • Reading periods: Open for three-month intervals throughout the year.

  • Response time: Around 1 month.

    • An expedited 48 hr response available for purchase

  • Submission fee: None.

  • Payment: None.

  • Feedback: 2-4 week feedback option is available for purchase.

  • Submission guidelines: Click here.

Blue Marble Review: An online quarterly journal publishing poetry, fiction, nonfiction, essays, opinion pieces, travel writing, photography and art by creatives from 13-22 years old.

  • Reading periods: Rolling submissions.

  • Response time: Within 6 weeks.

  • Submission fee: None.

  • Payment: $30 per published piece; $75 for cover art.

  • Feedback: None.

  • Submission guidelines: Click here.

BreakBread Literacy Project: An online and print journal publishing two issues yearly with poetry, prose, visual art, and multimedia pieces by writers under 25 years old. In addition to general submissions, BreakBread Literacy Project runs the Villena-Adalma contest for poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and art.

  • Reading periods: May-August, September-December, and January-April with short closures (a week or less) between each submission period for updates to guidelines.

  • Response time: 4-6 months.

  • Submission fee: None.

  • Payment: None.

  • Feedback: None.

  • Submission guidelines: Click here.

Eucalyptus Lit : An online journal publishing poetry, prose, hybrid, and experimental pieces. Eucalyptus is looking for "searing, electric work that plays with language in beautiful ways."

  • Reading periods: Rolling submissions.

  • Response time: 2-4 weeks.

  • Submission fee: None.

  • Payment: None.

  • Feedback: Free feedback upon request.

  • Submission guidelines: Click here.

Eunoia Review: An online journal publishing individual pieces of poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction twice daily, welcoming submissions from writers of all ages and backgrounds.

  • Reading periods: Rolling submissions.

  • Response time: 24 hours.

  • Submission fee: None.

  • Payment: None.

  • Feedback: None.

  • Submission guidelines: Click here.

Élan: A journal publishing two online issues yearly, which are combined into a single print edition; accepting fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, and art from young writers around the world.

  • Reading periods: Rolling submissions.

  • Response time: 24 hours.

  • Submission fee: None.

  • Payment: None.

  • Feedback: None.

  • Submission guidelines: Click here.

Ice Lolly Review: An online journal publishing several issues per year. Ice Lolly accepts poetry, flash fiction, fiction, nonfiction, and hybrid work from writers 12-26 years old.

  • Reading periods: Open sporadically.

  • Response time: 2 weeks.

  • Submission fee: None.

  • Payment: None.

  • Feedback: Feedback provided to all writers 18 and under; feedback can be requested by writers over 18.

  • Submission guidelines: Click here.

Paper Crane Journal: An online journal publishing 3-4 issues per year. Paper Crane accepts all genres of art and writing from creatives under 20 years old. Paper Crane Journal also curates print anthologies of prose and poetry.

  • Reading periods: Open sporadically.

  • Response time: Unsure.

  • Submission fee: None.

  • Payment: None.

  • Feedback: None.

  • Submission guidelines: Click here.

Polyphony Lit: An online and print journal publishing three issues yearly. Polyphony accepts poetry, prose, and art from high school students (Age 14-18) worldwide. In addition to general submissions, Polyphony runs a variety of seasonal and themed contests.

  • Reading periods: 7/1-9/30; 11/1-1/31; 3/1-4/20

  • Response time: 8-12 months.

  • Submission fee: None.

  • Payment: None.

  • Feedback: Free, detailed feedback for all submissions.

  • Submission guidelines: Click here.

Surging Tide Magazine: An online journal publishing three issues yearly. Surging Tide accepts poetry, prose, translations, visual art, performance art, and music from people of all ages and backgrounds. In addition to general submissions, Surging Tide runs an annual summer contest for poetry and prose.

  • Reading periods: Rolling submissions.

  • Response time: 2-4 weeks.

    • Expedited submissions available for purchase.

  • Submission fee: None.

  • Payment: None.

  • Feedback: None.

  • Submission guidelines: Click here.

The Cloudscent Journal: An online journal publishing multiple issues yearly. Cloudscent accepts all forms of art and writing from creatives age 12-25.

  • Reading periods: Rolling submissions.

  • Response time: 4 months.

  • Submission fee: None.

  • Payment: None.

  • Feedback: Free feedback upon request.

  • Submission guidelines: Click here.

The Dawn Review: An online journal publishing three issues yearly, and accepting all genres of written, visual, and multimedia work from people of all ages and backgrounds (us, obviously!). In addition to general submissions, we run the annual Dawn Prize for Poetry.

  • Reading periods: 8/15-10/31; 12/15-2/28; 5/15-6/30.

  • Response time: 2 months.

  • Submission fee: None.

  • Payment: None.

  • Feedback: Free feedback upon request.

  • Submission guidelines: Click here.

The Lumiere Review: An online journal publishing 3-4 issues yearly. Lumiere accepts poetry, prose, and art from people of all ages and backgrounds.

  • Reading periods: Open from the 1st to the 15th of January, April, July, and October.

  • Response time: Up to 6 weeks.

    • 3-day expedited response available with a donation.

  • Feedback: Feedback option available with a donation.

  • Payment: $10 per accepted contributor.

  • Submission guidelines: Click here.

This is by no means an exhaustive list. In our “Additional Resources’ section, we linked Clifford Garstang’s list of highly prestigious magazines, if you’d like to submit to those. On the other side of the spectrum, you can filter for magazines with higher acceptance rates and a “chill” vibe using chill subs (also linked). Many newer magazines and teen-run magazines are also active on social media– they are often more willing to take a chance on your work!


 

A Brief List of Summer Programs:


This list includes both virtual and in person summer programs for young writers. All of these programs include some combination of reading and analysis, generative writing, and peer review. Summer programs are a great opportunity to immerse yourself in a new environment, and to learn from experienced writers alongside talented peers. While summer programs for writing can be costly, there are plenty of opportunities to receive financial aid and scholarships.


The programs on this list are some of the most well-known summer programs for high schoolers. Beyond this list, many colleges have their own writing or humanities-based summer programs for high school students. Some of these college-led programs can be quite pricey, without being very selective. Furthermore, although some programs are held on college campuses, they aren’t necessarily taught by professors from that college. This doesn’t pre-college program aren’t worth attending. Rather, it means that you should thoroughly research each program you apply to.


For the programs that we’ve attended, we’re including our experiences, along with some pros and cons of each program. Most of these programs are quite selective– we’ve posted the acceptance rates that we know of, though many programs choose not to disclose their acceptance rates. Finally, keep in mind that many of the residential programs below have online options, if you are unable to attend in person!


Adroit Journal Summer Mentorship: a six-week program online which pairs students with mentors who are accomplished writers. Mentors choose to focus on poetry, fiction, or creative nonfiction. There are weekly readings (largely taken from the Adroit Journal), writing prompts, and peer review opportunities. You get to choose how you correspond with your mentor. Participants leave the program with a portfolio of work in their selected genre.

  • Eligibility: All high school students and gap year students can apply.

  • Deadlines: Applications close in early March.

  • Application materials: Applications consist of three essays, a writing sample, an optional academic transcript, and an optional additional information section.

  • Selectivity: This program has an approximately 8% acceptance rate. Over 65% of mentorship graduates have matriculated at Ivy League universities, Stanford, Oxford, or Cambridge.

  • Our take: Many of our current and past staff have attended IYWS, including myself, Grace, Joanna, Heather, Evan, Believe, and Maabena. All of Adroit’s mentors are very experienced writers, providing a wonderful opportunity to learn more about the writing world and to form a connection with an established writer. Furthermore, our editors found that peer-review was a helpful aspect of the mentorship, and most Adroit cohorts stay in touch after the program. Since many accomplished teen writers attend Adroit, the program is definitely a good way to broaden your horizons in the literary community. The weekly readings are incredibly well curated, and though they are lengthy, you can choose how deeply you dive into each piece. Adroit is also worth attending because it’s easy to fit into a summer schedule– your communication and involvement are very flexible. Many of our editors were able to attend Adroit at the same time as Iowa, Kenyon, or other programs. However, not all mentors have experience with teaching/editing, and some mentors have limited availability, making it difficult to sustain a connection. The virtual nature of the program also makes it more difficult to feel connected to peers and mentors. Generally, we would say that this program is what you, your mentor, and your peers make of it.

Iowa Young Writers’ Studio: a residential program held for two weeks at the University of Iowa in Iowa City. Mentors are alums or current MFA students at the Iowa Writers Workshop. In addition to a core workshop group focusing on a specialized genre, students have morning “observatories,” or writing exercises. An online option is available for those who can’t attend in person. Online 6-week workshop options are available in both summer and winter, though these workshops are asynchronous and less selective.

  • Eligibility: All high school students can apply, but very few freshmen are accepted.

  • Deadlines: Applications open in late January and close in early February.

  • Application materials: Applications include an essay, a writing sample, and a letter of recommendation.

  • Selectivity: This program has an approximately 10% acceptance rate.

  • Our take: Many of our current and past staff have attended IYWS, including myself, Grace, Heidi, Althea, Audrey, Ava, Claire, Heather, R-Yu, and Evan. The Dawn Review was actually created in the study rooms at Iowa! Our consensus is that IWYS is one of, if not THE best summer program for young writers. At Iowa, each day begins with a group meeting, led by Stephen Lovely (who is truly lovely) and an exercise led by an instructor. Then, depending on the day, participants will either join their main workshop group to discuss nightly readings, or join a different instructor in a generative exercise (called an observatory). In the afternoons, participants workshop their own poems through peer-critique. On evenings and weekends, RAs and staff provide optional activities such as extra workshops and outings (e.g. bowling and froyo night, karaoke, readings, and talent shows). Iowa culminates in a reading and a camp-wide “prom” event. There are so many positives to Iowa. First, you are able to interact closely with so many adults who have chosen to pursue writing seriously through the prestigious Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Participants of IWYS come from around the country and the world, creating a vast pool of experiences and talents. Workshops are kind, yet honest– every participant leaves with actionable feedback and ideas for their own pieces, as well as a broadened perspective on literature. The assigned readings are well-curated and manageable, and the caliber of discussion is unmatched. On top of workshops, the staff-organized social activities are super fun– and if you don’t find them fun, you can simply organize your own. The campus is close to downtown, so convenience stores, restaurants, bookshops, thrift shops, and more are easily accessible. Participants have ample free time to write and socialize, as well as a lot of flexibility with daily routines– RAs and staff are never patronizing, and the program recognizes that personal freedom is essential for creative freedom. The dining hall food is very good, with a large array of choices (though again, you can choose to eat at restaurants around town). The facilities are very clean; there are free laundry machines and multiple bathrooms per dorm hallway. The only negative of IYWS is that the simultaneous freedom and intensity of the program can make it a bit intimidating at first. That said, all of the staff are incredibly supportive, and if you attend, you will grow so much as a writer and a person (also, if you ever get Gilad as an instructor, you’ve lucked out).

Kenyon Review Young Writers’ Workshops: a residential program held for two weeks at Kenyon College in Ohio, the home of the Kenyon Review. This workshop is more generative and less centered around critique; students explore all genres through their main workshop, and have the opportunity to attend specialized genre sessions in the second week of the program. A one-week online workshop (meeting daily) is available in summer, and a 6-week workshop (meeting once a week) is available in winter.

  • Eligibility:16-18 year olds can apply.

  • Deadlines: Applications close in early March.

  • Application materials: Applications include an essay, a brief description of activities, a transcript, and a letter of recommendation.

  • Selectivity: This program has around a 15% acceptance rate.

  • Our take: Many of our current and past staff have attended also attended Kenyon, including myself, Joanna, Heidi, Akshita, Althea, Audrey, Claire, Vicki, and Evan. This program consists of three daily workshops, with the same group. All workshops have the same curriculum, and focus on all genres, as opposed to a single genre. During workshops, participants will discuss nightly readings, read new material, write according to prompts, and share their work. The second week of the program, participants can choose between more specialized genre sessions, which replace some of the daily workshops. Evenings consist of mandatory readings– the first week, accomplished writers provide the readings, while participants read their own work on the second week. After daily activities, and on weekends, Kenyon provides extra workshops and recreational activities, such as karaoke, a bonfire, and nature walks. The session culminates with… wait, we can’t tell you. It’s a secret. Anyhow, the positives of Kenyon are that all participants are exposed to a large variety of genres, and that a lot of generative writing is done every day. Furthermore, participants get to hear a great deal of writing from their peers, and all of the instructors are accomplished writers. Participants at Kenyon also come from all around the country and the world. That said, the campus environment can be a bit stifling– the dorms are passable and the food is passable, but there is only one dining hall, one coffee shop, one bookstore, one small supermarket, and one restaurant. Participants can’t go off campus, and must technically take most meals at the dining hall. Participants also technically can’t go into each others’ halls, and attendance is taken at all readings. While Kenyon’s generative workshops help you produce a lot of material, they may be difficult for those who want more freedom with when and what they write. During workshops, all participants must generally share their writing for each prompt, which can be daunting, though most prompts are flexible, and instructors are very understanding. Unfortunately for those seeking actionable feedback, critique is not allowed during workshops, which emphasize positive commentary. Ultimately, Kenyon may be more suited for those seeking a bit more structure in their summer program, though all will find aspects of the program that they come to love.


Juniper Summer Writing Institute (UMASS Amherst): a one week residential or online program with mentorship and workshops from MFA and PHD candidates at UMASS Amherst. Online workshops are also available in winter.

  • Eligibility: Rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors can apply.

  • Deadlines: Check website.

  • Application materials: Applications consist of an essay, writing sample, and a letter of recommendation.

  • Our take: Grace and Ava from our masthead have attended the Juniper Summer Writing Institute. Mark, one of our past editors, has also been an instructor at the program. Grace attended the program virtually, while Ava attended in-person. This program consists of writing labs, with specialized topics, craft sessions, which go into a specific element of craft, as well as participant readings, talks by instructors, writing prompts, and writing-related trips into nature. The biggest positive of the program was that the instructors were all very kind and experienced writers. The dining hall and dorms were also very good. However, many attendees of the in-person program were from the east coast, meaning there was a lack of geographical diversity. Furthermore, during the in-person program, there were many other camps on campus at the same time, leading to long lines and overcrowding. Similar to Kenyon, Juniper’s workshops didn’t focus on critique, and rather on positive commentary. Outside of scheduled classes and events, participants didn’t receive much support– this was especially true for the virtual program. Ultimately, this program seemed better suited for beginning writers.

Sewanee Young Writers’ Conference: a residential program for two weeks at The University of the South, including workshops in poetry, fiction, and playwriting, as well as specialized genres such as Songwriting, Memoir and Literary Journalism, and Short Fiction through a Fantastic Lens.

  • Eligibility: All high schoolers can apply.

  • Deadlines: Applications close in late February.

  • Application materials: Applications consist of a writing sample and a statement of purpose.

  • Our take: Grace, Claire, and Heather from our masthead have attended the Sewanee Young Writers’ Conference. Grace and Claire attended in-person, while Heather attended virtually during COVID.. A huge positive of the program is that the instructors are extremely qualified, and give great feedback on participants’ work. The in-person campus is also gorgeous, and the facilities are very good. However, the in-person campus is in the mountains, meaning that there are not a large variety of restaurants or stores. Furthermore, during the virtual program, the writing assignments were quite heavy– in the fiction class, participants wrote one story every day. During the virtual program, classes only met in the afternoons, but readings, workshops, and other activities were still plentiful. Meanwhile, during the in-person program, workshops felt slightly more elementary, focusing on basic elements of craft rather than more convoluted ideas. Ultimately, Sewanee also seems slightly more geared toward beginning writers, though everyone still has something to gain from the program.

Ellipsis Writing Workshops: weekly online workshops available throughout the summer and school year.

  • Eligibility: All high school students.

  • Deadlines: Check website.

  • Application materials: Applications consist of a writing sample.

  • Selectivity: It isn’t difficult to get into Ellipsis– rather, workshops are sorted into beginner, intermediate, and advanced groups.

  • Our take: Ellipsis instructors are generally all very experienced and passionate writers. Even just by looking on the website, this is easy to tell. Generally, Ellipsis students tend to be somewhat less experienced writers, especially because Ellipsis is a bit more of a commercial, college-admissions-oriented organization. Similar to Adroit, Ellipsis is what the students and instructors make of it; some workshops remain close long after the session ends, while others have consistently incomplete attendance. When I attended Ellipsis’ advanced poetry workshop, the reading packets were very well curated, and the discussions were always lively. Again, the online nature of the workshop made connection difficult, but I would say that, depending on your instructor and class, it could still be a worthwhile experience.

Kelly Writers’ House Summer Workshop for Young Writers: a residential program held for 10 days at the Kelly Writers’ House at the University of Pennsylvania. All students will take a personal essay writing workshop, with other workshop genres available in craft sessions by guest lecturers.

  • Eligibility: Rising juniors and seniors can apply.

  • Deadlines: Applications open in early February and close in early March.

  • Application materials: Applications include an essay, a transcript, a writing sample, and a letter of recommendation.

Reynolds Young Writers’ Workshop: an 8-day long residential program at Denison University in Ohio. The rural campus and the low student-faculty ratio are highlights of this program. All students take a cross-genre writing workshop, as well as workshops in genres of their choice.

  • Eligibility: Current sophomores and juniors can apply.

  • Deadlines: Applications close in early March.

  • Application materials: Applications consist of a writing sample, some short response questions, a transcript, and a teacher recommendation.

Bard College at Simon’s Rock Young Writers Workshop: a three week residential program at Bard College, with a focus on informal writing exercises and analysis.

  • Eligibility: Current freshman, sophomores and juniors can apply.

  • Deadlines: Applications are rolling, beginning in January, and ending when the program is filled (often around May).

  • Application materials: Applications consist of an essay, a brief form, and a teacher recommendation.

  • Selectivity: 84 writers are selected each year.

Between the Lines: a FREE two week residential program at the University of Iowa with a focus on creative writing as well as world literature seminars.

  • Eligibility: All students 15-18 years old can apply.

  • Deadlines: Check website.

  • Application materials: Applications consist of a writing sample and 3 essays.

  • Selectivity: 30 international students and 10 US students are accepted each year.

 

A Chronological List of Writing Contests:


This list includes writing contests, in order of the date that they close. We also include the day that each contest opens, and whether the contest requires previously unpublished submissions. However, some contests change and update their guidelines, so make sure to still read all guidelines thoroughly on contest websites before submitting. While it’s typically not a good idea not to leave things for the last minute, there’s no benefit to submitting early on in the reading period for contests.


In deciding which contests to place on this list, we included contests that focus on literary writing, as opposed to journalism or academic writing. While many of the contests below have a focus on young or emerging writers, there are also a few contests that cater to all writers, because it can never hurt to try your chances in the larger publishing world! We did not include for work strictly catered toward children, or contests that only accept work from a very specific geographical region or demographic. However, our additional information section will include links that will help you find contests that aren’t listed here!


September:


  • Dates: This contest usually closes early September.

  • Who can submit: Writers from 14-18 years old.

  • Submission guidelines: You submit up to two poems.

  • Submission fee: None.

  • Prizes: The winner will be featured on the Gigantic Sequins blog.

  • Dates: This contest closes September 17th.

  • Who can submit: All poets.

  • Submission guidelines: You can submit up to three poems and no more than five pages per submission. All submissions must relate to the theme. You may make as many submissions as you wish.

  • Submission fee: $20 per submission.

  • Prizes: $3000 to the first place prize winner, $300 to second place, and $200 to third place.


October:

  • Dates: This contest closes October 13th.

  • Who can submit: Students who are in grades 10-12 or who are 15-18 years old on December 1st of the year that they apply.

  • Submission guidelines: Youngarts has ten artistic categories that you can submit to, ranging from photography, to dance, to (of course), writing. Within the writing discipline, you can submit to up to 6 categories: Creative Nonfiction, Novel, Play or Script, Poetry, Short Story, and Spoken Word. The guidelines for each category are listed here (this page also includes application tips, FAQs, and the work of previous winners).

  • Submission fee: $35 for each category.

  • Prizes: Winners will receive a cash prize of $250. Winners with distinction are invited to attend National Youngarts Week in Miami, where 20 students will be nominated for U.S. Presidential Scholars in the Arts. Winners with distinction will also be considered for cash prizes of up to $10,000, and winners with distinction who are not able to attend Youngarts Week will receive a monetary award of $500. Starting in the 2024 cycle, winners of all levels will be invited to attend Youngarts Lab in either New York City or Los Angeles.

  • Dates: This contest closes October 15th.

  • Who can submit: All poets.

  • Submission guidelines: You can submit up to three poems per submission; poems must relate to the theme of resistance and resilience. You can make as many total submissions as you wish

  • Submission fee: $20 per submission.

  • Prizes: The winning poet will be awarded $3000, publication, and a brief interview in Palette Poetry. Second and third place will receive $300 and $200, respectively, as well as publication. The top ten finalists will also be recognized on the website.

  • Dates: This contest closes October 29th.

  • Who can submit: All poets under 25.

  • Submission guidelines: You can submit as many poems as you wish. All poems must adhere to one of four prompts.

  • Submission fee: None.

  • Prizes: Selected winners aged 18-25 will receive mentoring sessions online with poet Caleb Parkin, as well as being published on Young Poets Network and sent an exclusive Young Poets Network notebook among poetry goodies including books and posters. Selected winners aged under 18 will receive a £10 book token, alongside these goodies from YPN.

  • Dates: This contest closes October 31st.

  • Who can submit: All high school students.

  • Submission guidelines: You can submit only one poem.

  • Submission fee: None.

  • Prizes: The winner receives $500 and publication in Marymount Manhattan’s literary magazine, The Carson Review.

  • Dates: This contest closes October 31st.

  • Who can submit: Sophomore and junior girls.

  • Submission guidelines: You can submit up to two poems.

  • Submission fee: None.

  • Prizes: The winner receives $350, publication in Cargoes, Hollins University’s literary magazine, ten copies of Cargoes, free tuition and housing for the Hollinsummer creative writing program, and a total value of $20,000 in scholarship funds over four years at Hollins University (should she choose to attend). The runner-up receives publication in Cargoes, ten copies of Cargoes, a $500 scholarship to the Hollinsummer creative writing program, and a total value of $4,000 in scholarship funds over four years at Hollins University

  • Dates: This contest closes October 31st, or when a cap of 200 submissions is reached.

  • Who can submit: All high school students.

  • Submission guidelines: You can submit up to three pieces engaging with the theme of “Places We Call Home.”

  • Submission fee: None.

  • Prizes: There will be one winner and two finalists. The winners/finalists will receive publication in Polyphony Lit Volume 19, eligibility for the Claudia Ann Seaman Awards, editorial feedback from the Contest Judge, Heidi Nam, a social media announcement, an honorary emblem next to the published work on the website, and a full scholarship for Polyphony Lit’s "How to be a Literary Editor" course.

November:


  • Dates: This contest is open from September 1st to November 1st

  • Who can submit: All high school students.

  • Submission guidelines: You can submit a group of three poems, a short story (1,500 words or fewer), a one-act play (run no more than 30 minutes of playing time), or a personal or academic essay (1,500 words or fewer).

  • Submission fee: None.

  • Prizes: First-place winners in each category are awarded a prize of $1,000; second-place winners receive $500; third-place winners receive $250. If you win and decide to attend Bennington College, you will receive a generous scholarship.

  • Dates: This contest closes November 15th.

  • Who can submit: The author of the poem must have been 15 or younger when the poem was written, and 18 or younger when submitted. Students may submit their own poems, or teachers may submit on behalf of students.

  • Submission guidelines: You can submit up to four poems in each submission, but you can make as many total submissions as you wish.

  • Submission fee: None.

  • Prizes: All contributors receive ten complimentary copies of the print anthology.

  • Dates: This contest closes in late November.

  • Who can submit: High school juniors.

  • Submission guidelines: You can submit up to three poems.

  • Submission fee: None.

  • Prizes: First Prize – $1,500 | Second Prize – $750 | Third Prize – $500. In the past, winners were also given the opportunity to take a free trip to Princeton and have lunch with the faculty.

  • Dates: This contest closes November 20th.

  • Who can submit: Students in grades 8-11.

  • Submission guidelines: You must submit a portfolio covering at least two genres of writing.

  • Submission fee: None.

  • Prizes: The winner receives full tuition to attend Interlochen Arts Academy, a prestigious arts school in Michigan. Being a semifinalist is impressive, even if you don’t choose to go to Interlochen!

  • Dates: This contest is open November 1st to November 30th.

  • Who can submit: High school sophomores and juniors.

  • Submission guidelines: You can submit only one previously unpublished poem.

  • Submission fee: None.

  • Prizes: Winner receives full scholarship to the Kenyon Review Young Writers’ Workshop. Winners and runners-up will have their poem published in the Kenyon Review

December:


  • Dates: This contest is open from September 1st to December 1st.

  • Who can submit: Sophomore and junior girls.

  • Submission guidelines: You can submit one poem of up to 25 lines.

  • Submission fee: None.

  • Prizes: The winner will receive $500, a signed copy of a book by the judge, and an invitation to read their work at Smith College.

  • Dates: This contest is open from September 1st to early December. Deadlines may vary by year and region.

  • Who can submit: Students in grades 7-12.

  • Submission guidelines: There are 11 categories in writing, and even more in art. You can submit pieces individually, or as part of a collection. There is no cap on submissions.

  • Submission fee: $10 per submission, with a fee waiver available.

  • Prizes: There are many levels of recognition. At the regional level, you can either receive honorable mention, a silver key, or a gold key (almost half of all submissions receive some sort of regional recognition). Regional gold and silver key recipients can apply for the SAS scholarships, where they are paired with Those who receive regional gold keys automatically proceed to nationals, in which they can receive a National Silver Medal, National Silver Medal with Distinction, or a National Gold Medal (awarded to less than 1% of submissions). National Medalists are eligible for scholarships up to $12,500 and are invited to attend the award ceremony at the Carnegie Hall in New York City. The best five pieces in each region get nominated for the American Voices Award, and the best piece out of those receives this award. Students in grades 10-11 who receive a silver or gold medal can be nominated for the National Student Poets Program, one of the highest honors for high school poets. If you become a National Student Poet, you champion your entire region’s poetry community (the entirety of the Northeast), and you get to read your poetry at the White House!

  • Dates: This contest closes late December.

  • Who can submit: All high school students.

  • Submission guidelines: Each teacher may nominate up to five pieces of student work (you can ask your teacher to nominate you). One piece of work can be a creative nonfiction essay of no more than five double-spaced, typed pages, a short story of no more than five double-spaced, typed pages, or a poem of no more than 50 lines.

  • Submission fee: None.

  • Prizes: First place winners receive $100, second place winners receive $50, and third place winners receive $25. All Finalists will receive a Certificate of Honorable Mention, and all winners will be considered for publication in Venture, Rider’s literary magazine.

  • Dates: This contest closes December 30th.

  • Who can submit: All writers.

  • Submission guidelines: You can submit three to seven poems (no more than ten pages) and 2,000-7,000 words of prose.

  • Submission fee: $5 per submission.

  • Prizes: Winners in each genre will receive $100 and publication.

January:


  • Dates: This contest is open from late November to late January.

  • Who can submit: All high school students.

  • Submission guidelines: You can enter up to two previously unpublished works in each category of Creative Nonfiction and Fiction. In the Poetry category, you can enter up to 2 files, and each of them can have 1-5 poems. Each individual entry has a limit of ten pages.

  • Submission fee: None.

  • Prizes: Winners will be posted on the contest website.

  • Dates: This contest is open from mid-October to mid-January.

  • Who can submit: All high school students

  • Submission guidelines: You can enter one previously unpublished entry in each of three categories (Literary Stories, Genre Stories, and Creative Nonfiction) of up to 2,000 words, but each piece can only win a prize in one category

  • Submission fee: None.

  • Prizes: First place winners receive $1,000, an IPad for their high school English teacher, and consultation with an agent and publication in Ringling College’s literary arts journal, second place winners receive $100, third place winners receive $50, and all finalists will receive a Ringling College Creative Writing T-shirt.

  • Dates: The contest typically closes in late January and centers around environmental topics.

  • Who can submit: Students age 5-19

  • Submission guidelines: There is no limit to the number of pieces that can be submitted

  • Submission fee: None.

  • Prizes: Students are eligible for various specialty prizes, as well as a prize for their age group. Finalists and winners are offered anthology publication and museum exhibitions.

  • Dates: The contest typically closes in late January.

  • Who can submit: Students in grades 7-12, though there are different eligibility rules for various categories.

  • Submission guidelines: You can submit one unpublished poem of 35 lines or less for each category.

  • Submission fee: Unsure.

  • Prizes: Specific info for 2024 has not yet been released.

  • Dates: The contest typically closes in late January.

  • Who can submit: All writers.

  • Submission guidelines: Poems must be ekphrastic; specific information for 2024 has not yet been released.

  • Submission fee: $20 per submission.

  • Prizes: The winner will receive $500 and publication.

  • Dates: The contest typically closes in late January.

  • Who can submit: High school students

  • Submission guidelines: You can submit unpublished work in each category. Please check their Submittable page when the deadline approaches to see specifics.

  • Submission fee: None.

  • Prizes: All winners and honorable mentions will be published in a special issue of Roanoke Review.

February:


  • Dates: The contest opens December 1st and closes February 1st.

  • Who can submit: Students in grades 6-12.

  • Submission guidelines: You can submit one previously unpublished piece of fiction containing exactly 1,000 words.

  • Submission fee: None.

  • Prizes: Two $1,000 cash grand prizes will be awarded, one for grades 6-8 and one for grades 9-12. Seven $100 cash prizes will also be awarded for winning entries, one per grade level. Stories selected for publication into Bluefire, but not selected as a grade-level or scholarship winner, will receive a $50 cash prize. In a given year and grade, if no entry is deemed to merit an award, no award will be given.

  • Dates: This poetry contest typically opens in early January and closes in early February

  • Who can submit: High school students can submit their own poems, or teachers can submit on behalf of their students.

  • Submission guidelines: Each year’s contest has a prompt. Each submission can only contain one poem (specific guidelines for 2024 have not yet been released).

  • Submission fee: None.

  • Prizes: First, second, and third place winners are published in Narrative Magazine. All winners and finalists receive certificates and cash prizes.

  • Dates: This contest closes February 1st.

  • Who can submit: All high school students.

  • Submission guidelines: You may submit up to two poems of up to 40 lines each.

  • Submission fee: None.

  • Prizes: Winners receive a monetary award, a signed book by the distinguished featured poet of Writing Awards Night at Gannon University, and publication in the Awards program.

  • Dates: This contest closes February 15th (nominations close earlier).

  • Who can submit: High school sophomores and juniors who are nominated by their school.

  • Submission guidelines: Submissions can be in any genre, but they must abide by a yearly prompt.

  • Submission fee: None.

  • Prizes: Winners are separated into three categories: First Class, Superior, Excellence, and Merit. First Class winners will be posted on the NCTE website.

  • Dates: This contest opens February 1st and closes February 28th, or when a cap of 200 submissions is reached.

  • Who can submit: All high school students.

  • Submission guidelines: You can submit up to three pieces engaging with a specific contest theme (forthcoming).

  • Submission fee: None.

  • Prizes: There will be one winner and two finalists. The winners/finalists will receive publication in Polyphony Lit Volume 19, eligibility for the Claudia Ann Seaman Awards, editorial feedback from the Contest Judge, Heidi Nam, a social media announcement, an honorary emblem next to the published work on the website, and a full scholarship for Polyphony Lit’s "How to be a Literary Editor" course.

March:


  • Dates: This contest closes March 31st.

  • Who can submit: All writers under 25 years old.

  • Submission guidelines: Same as regular submission guidelines; see here.

  • Submission fee: None.

  • Prizes: Winners in each genre receive $250 and will be featured in BreakBread Magazine. Finalists will be posted on the website.

  • Dates: This contest closes March 31st.

  • Who can submit: Juniors in high school.

  • Submission guidelines: You can only submit one play, with a maximum of ten pages.

  • Submission fee: None.

  • Prizes: The winner receives $500, the second prize is $250, and the third prize is $100.

  • Dates: This contest closes March 15th.

  • Who can submit: All high school students.

  • Submission guidelines: You can submit five poems, with no poem longer than two pages.

  • Submission fee: None.

  • Prizes: The two winners will be invited to read their work alongside an established poet. For this reading, the winners will receive an honorarium.

April:


  • Dates: This contest opens mid-February and closes mid-April.

  • Who can submit: All poets without a full-length collection out at the time of submission.

  • Submission guidelines: Specific information for 2024 has not yet been released.

  • Submission fee: Unsure.

  • Prizes: The winning poet will be awarded $3000, publication, and a brief interview with Palette Poetry. Second and third place will win $300 & $200, respectively, as well as publication. The top ten finalists will also be recognized on the website.

  • Dates: This contest closes April 30th.

  • Specific information for 2024 has not yet been released.

May:


  • Dates: This contest opens January 1st and closes May 1st

  • Who can submit: All writers under 19.

  • Submission guidelines: You can submit one unpublished one-act play from 10-40 minutes long.

  • Submission fee: None.

  • Prizes: One winner and one runner-up is named for both categories and several finalists and semifinalists are named for both categories.

  • Dates: This contest closes May 1st

  • Who can submit: All students of secondary or undergraduate status.

  • Submission guidelines: You can send up to five packets of poetry or prose. Each packet may contain either up to six poems or up to three pieces of prose (fiction or creative nonfiction, up to 3,500 total words combined).

  • Submission fee: $15 per submission.

  • Prizes: One winner and one runner-up is named for both categories and several finalists and semifinalists are named for both categories. Winners will be awarded $200, and their work—along with the work of runners-up—will be featured in the Adroit Journal. Runners-up and finalists will receive a copy of their judges’ latest book.

Ploughshares Emerging Writers’ Contest: A contest that recognizes emerging writers in poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction

  • Dates: This contest closes around May 22nd

  • Who can submit: Anyone who has not yet published a book and is unaffiliated with Emerson College

  • Submission guidelines: You can submit three to five pages of poetry.

  • Submission fee: $24, which includes a 1-year subscription to Ploughshares; free for current subscribers to Ploughshares.

  • Prizes: $2,000 will be awarded to one winner in each category.

  • Dates: This contest closes May 15th.

  • Who can submit: All K-12 students.

  • Submission guidelines: One poem including lines pulled from a Pulitzer Center story while responding to the themes of the story.

  • Submission fee: None.

  • Prizes: 1st place: $300; 2nd place: $200; 3rd place: $100; Finalists: $75. All winners and finalists are published on the Pulitzer Center website.

June:


  • Dates: This contest closes June 10th.

  • Who can submit: Students aged 11-14 are eligible for the Junior Division; students aged 15-18 are eligible for the Senior Division.

  • Submission guidelines: There is a yearly prompt for the contest. There are seven categories, including digital and handcrafted visual art, creative writing, poetry and spoken word, film, and more. Each student may submit one entry per category, along with a written reflection.

  • Submission fee: None.

  • Prizes: For each category in each division, there is a gold prize of $1,000, a silver prize of $750, a bronze prize of $500, a pearl prize of $250, and an honorable mention of $100.

  • Dates: This contest opens mid-April and closes mid-July

  • Who can submit: All poets who identify as women.

  • Submission guidelines: Specific information for 2024 has not yet been released.

  • Submission fee: $20 per submission.

  • Prizes: The winning poet will be awarded $3000, publication, and a brief interview with Palette Poetry. Second and third place will win $300 & $200, respectively, as well as publication. The top ten finalists will also be recognized on the website.

  • Dates: This contest opens June 1st and closes June 30th, or when a cap of 200 submissions is reached.

  • Who can submit: All high school students.

  • Submission guidelines: You can submit up to three pieces engaging with a specific contest theme (forthcoming).

  • Submission fee: None.

  • Prizes: There will be one winner and two finalists. The winners/finalists will receive publication in Polyphony Lit Volume 19, eligibility for the Claudia Ann Seaman Awards, editorial feedback from the Contest Judge, Heidi Nam, a social media announcement, an honorary emblem next to the published work on the website, and a full scholarship for Polyphony Lit’s "How to be a Literary Editor" course.

July:


  • Dates: This contest closes on July 1st. Note that there is an entry fee for all writers aged 13 and up.

  • Who can submit: There are three age brackets: 12 and under, 13-18, and 19 and up.

  • Submission guidelines: You may submit up to three unpublished poems with a maximum of 30 lines each.

  • Submission fee: $5 for 13-18 category; $15 for 19+ category; free for 12 and under category.

  • Prizes: For winners, adults receive $1,000 and young writers receive $200. Winners and honorable mentions will have their work displayed on the website.

  • Dates: This contest closes July 31st.

  • Who can submit: All writers

  • Submission guidelines: You can submit one piece in each category (poetry and prose) for free. Each piece of prose should be under 4,000 words, and each piece of poetry should be under 150 lines.

  • Submission fee: None; however, you can submit up to five pieces in each category with a donation.

  • Prizes: One winner and one runner-up is named for both categories and several finalists and semifinalists are named for both categories.

  • Dates: This contest closes July 31st.

  • Who can submit: Poets aged 11-17

  • Submission guidelines: You can submit either online or by post. Poems of any style are welcome. You can submit as many poems as you would like.

  • Submission fee: None.

  • Prizes: Each year, 100 winners (85 commendations and 15 top Winners) are chosen, and receive their awards at an annual prize-giving event in London. Winners receive amazing prizes including membership of The Poetry Society and a stack of poetry goodies. Top 15 sinners also get the chance to receive mentoring from a professional poet, or attend a residency at the Arvon Centres. All winners will be featured in a performance, publication, and an internship opportunity. Other publications and organizations often donate additional awards.

  • Dates: This contest closes July 31st.

  • Who can submit: There are separate categories for poets aged 13-18 and poets aged 19-25.

  • Submission guidelines: There is a yearly theme for the contest; information for 2024 has not yet been released.

  • Submission fee: Unsure.

  • Prizes: The winning poet in each category receives $500.

  • Dates: This contest closes mid-July.

  • Who can submit: All poets.

  • Submission guidelines: You can submit three poems (no more than twelve pages) per submission. You can make as many submissions as you like.

  • Submission fee: $20 per submission.

  • Prizes: The winning poem will be awarded $5,000 and publication. In addition to the winner, nine finalists will also receive an award of $100 each with publication.

August:


  • Dates: This contest opens June 1st and closes August 1st.

  • Who can submit: All writers over 10 years old.

  • Submission guidelines: You can submit five pieces of poetry or prose.

  • Submission fee: None.

  • Prizes: Winners in each genre will receive $100 and publication in the 365 Collection. Finalists will also be published.

Forthcoming contests:

These contests are ones that will open during the coming school year, but whose dates, guidelines, and other information are not yet available.


Frontier Poetry runs a variety of prizes year round with various themes– for example, their Roots & Roads prize and the OPEN contest, included earlier on our list. The best way to keep up with these contests is to join their newsletter!


Every month or so, the Foyle Young Poets Network will post a challenge with a specific prompt, such as the Adorable Animals contest on our list. Winners will be published on Young Poets Network, in addition to receiving goodies and occasionally other prizes. Generally, they post a new contest shortly after the current one ends.


 

Additional Resources:


Here are some additional resources that you can use in your writing and publishing journey. First, we’ll list some guides and databases for publications, contests, and other opportunities. Many of the databases on our list have social media pages and newsletters that introduce writers to upcoming opportunities.


Next, we’ll list some online literary communities. Your writing community can be a school organization, a community book club, or something completely different. Regardless, joining a community will allow you a) to receive more feedback on your work, b) learn about new opportunities, and c) help others. If you don’t currently have access to a writing community, you can join the ones listed here, or create your own!


Finally, we’ll list some magazines that are currently seeking editors, as well as magazines that will likely open their staff applications in the coming months. Editing for a magazine can be a great way to increase your exposure to literature, work with other talented writers, and gain new perspective on your art form. When you look for a magazine to edit for, make sure that you like the type of work they publish, and that their presence in the literary world is professional! Often, it’s possible to edit for multiple magazines at once, though I personally think it’s better to do one job well, as opposed to spreading yourself too thin among multiple editorial positions.


Guides and databases:

Many literary magazines have links to pages like Duotrope, the Submission Grinder, and Chill Subs. Each of these pages have more information about magazines, as well as statistics about acceptance rates, response times, etc. While Duotrope requires payment to access this information, the Submission Grinder and Chill Subs are free to use. I personally love Chill Subs, because you can use it to filter for publications accepting a certain genre of work, magazines that are currently open to submissions, magazines without submission fees, magazines with certain submission guidelines, and more. Chill Subs also has “The Sub Club Newsletter,” with reminders for new opportunities and submission opportunities.


A list of the most prestigious magazines for poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction, based on how often pieces from each magazine are included in the Pushcart Anthology. If you are submitting your pieces to very selective, well-known journals first, you might want to learn about the magazines on this list.


A gigantic list of more literary magazines than you can count!


A website with extremely thorough lists of literary magazines and contests, in addition to other opportunities. Specifically, check out the Big List of Literary Magazines for inspiration on where to send your pieces. Their Young Writers’ Guide to Publication is also helpful– it lists magazines and contests that publish work solely written by young writers, in addition to magazines catered to young readers that accept work from people of all ages (however, it doesn’t include more prestigious publications). Finally, check out their Young Writers’ Guide to Contests, which is a larger version of our calendar of contests, and which, unlike our calendar, includes contests for academic and argumentative writing.


A monthly newsletter with Frontier Poetry’s deadlines, as well as the deadlines for other magazines and contests.


A monthly newsletter with contest, publication, and editorial opportunities specifically for high school aged writers.


This is pretty self-explanatory!


Literary communities:


A nonprofit organization that helps young writers to achieve creative writing projects. NaNoWriMo stands for “National Novel Writing Month,” and provides resources, prompts, and community to help students write a novel in a month!


A student nonprofit with opportunities such as a free camp and mentorship, volunteering, cover designs, book reviews, workshops, etc.


For all of its flaws, many writers and magazines hang out on Twitter. It a great platform if you want to learn about new opportunities, and it can sometimes be a good place to have discussions about literature.


A new writing community, run primarily on Discord, with workshops, a book club, readings, and other events.


Magazines with open positions:


Adroit opens editor applications frequently, and their team is very large. Although they are extremely selective in what they publish, they have quite a few teen readers!


Aster lit is a magazine run by emerging writers. You can apply if you are between 14-25 years old.


Cathartic Youth Literary Magazine publishes work from creatives 12-22 years old focusing on mental health. All are eligible to apply for staff positions.


COUNTERCLOCK offers seasonal internships, which provide the opportunity to become a permanent staff member. All writers above 16 are eligible to apply.


A magazine led by emerging writers, promoting work that deals with illness, loss, and pain, with the goal of promoting healing and hope. All are eligible to apply.


Neverland Lit is a youth literary magazine publishing emerging writers. All are eligible to apply.


Polyphony Lit’s editorial staff is composed entirely of hundreds of student editors. Before you join their editorial team, you must take an introductory editing course. Once you join their team, there are advancement opportunities and leadership roles available depending on your performance. All high school students can join the staff at any time, so long as they pass the editing course.


Sine Theta is a magazine dedicated specifically to the Sino diaspora. All Sino creators are invited to apply.


The Afterpast Review is a feminist youth-led magazine interested in providing a platform for underrepresented voices. All are eligible to apply.


A VERY new teen-led poetry journal seeking editors. All are eligible to apply


 

Conclusion:


I hope that you find this guide helpful! That said, everything here is merely a means to an end. Your end goals– which never really end– should always be to explore literature, to improve your craft, and to hone your inner life and your relationship with your work.


Nonetheless, some parting advice! Always be open to new opportunities, new kinds of writing, and new perspectives. Keep in touch with the people you meet at educational programs, and to seek out online and in-person opportunities to connect with other writers. Most importantly, remember that behind every piece is a real human being. In this same vein, be gentle to yourself as a person and an artist.


Wherever your art takes you, we wish you all the best.






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