13 Writing Competitions for Young Writers in Australia: February to June 2017
[NB: These are writing competitions from February to June 2017. Head to 19 Writing Competitions for Young Writers: July to December 2017 for the most recent list of opportunities.]
During the summer school holidays, I was once again privileged to run an all-day workshop for young writers at the Katharine Susannah Prichard Writers’ Centre. Participants were energetic and motivated, and I loved reading the work produced – a mixture of blog posts and fiction – as a result of the day.
One of the questions these young writers asked was: Where can I find out about competitions and publishing opportunities?
There’s actually a lot out there if you know where to look. To that end, I’ve searched out what’s on offer between now and June, and compiled it into one blog post, in order of closing date, except the first one which is ongoing throughout the year. I’ve also included several other publishing opportunities, with various deadlines – scroll to the bottom of the post to find these.
1. Write the World
Write the World describes itself as ‘community of young writers (ages 13-18), hailing from over 80 countries’. Write the World holds monthly competitions, developed around a particular idea or genre of writing. The competitions encourage you to try out new genres and share your work with other readers, as well as the opportunity receive peer and expert feedback before submitting your final piece.
Upcoming topics include:
- February: Foreign Correspondent (600-1000 words). Closes 21 February 2017.
- March: Op-ed writing – it matters (600-1000 words). Submissions open 6 March 2017.
- April: Poetry and Spoken Word – particles of life (500 words maximum).
- May: Mystery Writing – for the thrill of it (600-1000 words).
- June: Writing for children – a first tale (1000 words maximum).
For more detailed information about each topic, including deadlines and prizes, head to the Write the World website.
2. Nakata Brophy Short Fiction and Poetry Prize for Young Indigenous Writers
(NB: Submissions have closed for 2017)
The brief: Write a short story up to 3000 words.
Open to: Indigenous writers who are 30 years or younger at the closing date of the competition.
Prizes: First place is a $5000 prize, publication in Overland’s print magazine, and a three-month writer’s residency at the beautiful Trinity College, the oldest student residence at the University of Melbourne. Two runner-up prizes of $500 may also be awarded.
Closing date: Tuesday 28 February 2017.
Further information and the entry form can be found on the Overland Literary Journal website.
3. Laura Literary Awards
The brief: Write a short story or poem. Word limit depends on the category entered.
Open to: Ages 5 to 18 (and also includes an category for adults).
Categories and Prizes:
The Flinders News Prose Awards:
- Section 1 – OPEN Prize $200 A short story up to 1500 words
- Section 2 – YOUNG ADULT (13-18 yrs) Prize $50 A short story up to 1000 words
- Section 3 – JUNIOR (9-12 yrs) Prize $25 A short story up to 500 words
- Section 4 – JUNIOR PRIMARY (5-8 yrs) Prize $15 A short story up to 500 words
The CJ Dennis Poetry Awards (Poem up to 60 lines for all sections):
- Section 5 – OPEN Prize $200
- Section 6 – OPEN BUSH POETRY Prize $200
- Section 7 – YOUNG ADULT (13-18 yrs) Prize $50
- Section 8 – JUNIOR (9-12 yrs) Prize $25
- Section 9 – JUNIOR PRIMARY (5-8 yrs) Prize $15
Cost: no fee is required for student entry and $10 per entry for adults.
Closing date: Friday 24 March 2017.
4. SAETA Young Writers Award
The brief: Write poetry or prose, on any theme, up to 1000 words.
Open to: all South Australian students.
Categories: there are 6 categories which include students from Reception to Year 12.
Prizes: Shortlisted finalists will be contacted and invited to the Young Writers Award 2017 Presentation Night.
Closing Date: Friday 19 May 2017.
Further information and an entry form can be found via the South Australian English Teachers Association (SAETA) website.
5. Children’s & Young Adult Writers and Illustrators Hatchlings Competition
The brief: You may submit a picture book, graphic novel, illustrated picture book, middle grade illustrated novel, or a published illustration.
- Picture Books – Text only for preschool or primary aged children up to 500 words in English. Open theme.
- Chapter Book and Young adult novels – Text only for older primary aged children/Young Adult. First 1000 words in English. Open theme.
- Graphic Novel & Illustrated picture book: 3 pages of graphic novel or 3 pages of illustrated picture book, with up to 500 words on submitted pages. Words in English (Complete story to accompany – not judged.) Open theme. Any age group within CYA.
- Middle Grade Illustrated Novel: 3 illustrations of middle grade novel, with the words present on the pages. Words in English. (Complete story to accompany – not judged.) Open theme. Any age group within CYA.
Read the guidelines outlined in the downloadable PDF carefully, as they are quite detailed.
Open to: Hatchlings (8-18 years old); Aspiring (all writers/illustrators who have not been published in book format within the CYA genres); Published (current published writers/illustrators).
Categories: picture book, chapter book, YA novel, graphic novel, illustrated picture book, middle grade (see contest guidelines for more information).
Prizes: 1st prize ($50), 2nd prize ($30) and 3rd prize ($20) per category. Short listed entries will be submitted to at least one children’s publisher.
Closing date: Sunday 30 April 2017.
For further information go to the website of the CYA Conference.
6. What Matters? 2017
What Matters? is an annual competition run by the Whitlam Institute. Entrants are invited to respond to the question ‘What Matters?” by expressing their views on any subject or issue they care about.
The brief: Write a 400-600 word opinion piece on what matters to you and why.
Open to: school students in NSW, Tasmania and ACT>
Categories: years 5-6; years 7-10; years 11-12.
Closing date: Friday 5 May 2017.
Check out the What Matters Writing Competition page for more details and to download an entry form for your particular state.
7. 2017 South Perth Young Writers Award
The brief: Write a piece of prose up to 1500 words.
Open to: students living in or attending school in the City of South Perth.
Categories: year 1; lower primary (years 1-2); middle primary (years 3-4) upper primary (years 5-6); lower secondary (years 7-9); upper secondary (years 10-12).
Prizes: Prizes may be awarded for 1st and 2nd in each category, and certificates for highly commended works may also be awarded. The most outstanding entry will be awarded the Christobel Mattingley Bronze Medallion.
Closing date: Saturday 6 May 2017.
8. Shaun Tan Art Award
This award is named after artist Shaun Tan, who grew up in the northern suburbs of Perth and began drawing and painting for small-press magazines as a teenager. Since then, he has gone on to create (and win multiple awards for) numerous books such as The Red Tree, The Lost Thing, The Arrival and Tales from Outer Suburbia.
The brief: create an original drawing, painting or other 2D creation, no larger than 1 metre x 1.5 metres in size.
Open to: Western Australian school students, aged 5-18 years.
Categories: lower Primary (years 1-2); middle primary (years 3-4); upper primary (years 5-6); lower secondary (years 7-9); upper primary (years 10-12).
Prizes: Prizes are presented to the top three entries in each category. A selection of the best artworks entered will also be chosen to feature in the Shaun Tan Award exhibition and will be on displayed at Subiaco Library for one month. All exhibited artists receive professional framing or mounting for their artworks.
Closing date: Monday 22 May 2017 (submissions open Monday 1 May).
Entry forms and further information, including how to submit can be found on the Subiaco Library website.
9. Make Your Own Story Book Competition
The brief: create a picture book or story book that tells an original story, using original text and illustrations.
Open to: Western Australian students from pre-primary to year 8.
Categories: years PP-2 picture book; years 3-4 picture book; years 3-4 story book; years 5-6 picture book; years 5-6 story book; year 7-8 picture book; year 7-8 story book.
Prizes: 3 prizes will be awarded for each age group, in each category.
Closing date: Friday 9 June 2017.
Check out further info for the Make Your Own Story Book Competition and download an entry form, which spells out instructions and guidelines in detail, including the difference between a picture book and a story book.
10. Tim Winton Award for Young Writers
Award winning author Tim Winton decided he wanted to be a writer when he was ten years old. He is now the author of over 25 books, including novels, short stories, non-fiction and books for children.
The brief: Write an original piece of prose writing, no more than 2000 words in length.
Open to: Western Australian school students in years 1 to 12.
Categories: lower primary (years 1-2); middle primary (years 3-4); upper primary (years 5-6); lower secondary (years 7-9); upper secondary (years 10-12).
Prizes: Prizes are presented to the top 3 entries in each category. The Tim Winton Award for Outstanding Achievement will be awarded to the best overall story across all categories. Winning stories will be on display for one month at Subiaco Library and published online.
Closing date: Monday 26 June 2017 (submissions open Tuesday 6 June).
For further information, head to the Subiaco Library website.
11. Dorothea Mackellar Poetry Awards
The brief: Write up to 3 poems on any subject; the annual theme of ‘all over the world‘ is optional. Poems should be no longer than 80 lines and do not submit illustrations, graphics or decorations.
Open to: students enrolled in Australian educational facilities (includes home-schooled students).
Categories: Lower primary (years K-3); Upper primary (years 4-6; includes year 7 in South Australia); assisted learning primary; junior secondary (years 7-9); senior secondary (years 10-12); assisted learning secondary.
Prizes: see the Dorothea Mackellar Poetry Awards prizes page for a detailed list of prizes for each category.
Closing date: Friday 30 June 2017 (entries open for submissions on 1 March).
Further information and the entry form can be found on the Dorothea Mackellar Poetry Awards website.
12. The John Marsden & Hachette Australia Prize for Young Writers
The brief: Submit fiction or non-fiction of up to 3000 words in length, and poetry up to 100 lines. One entry per category may be entered, with a maximum of 2 entries across the 3 categories.
Open to: Australian secondary school students.
Categories: poetry, fiction and non-fiction.
Prizes: Fifteen shortlisted writers will be invited to meet John Marsden and participate in an exclusive workshop with a best-selling Australian author. Prize winners will also receive a cash prize and book pack of YA titles, courtesy of Hachette Australia, plus publication of their work in the national youth literary journal, Voiceworks.
Closing date: Submission for the 2017 prize open on Monday 17 April 2017 and close on Friday 30 June 2017.
Further information, entry form and updates about the closing date from Express Media.
13. Young Writers Innovation Prize
The Young Writers Innovation Prize is a program of support for young writers, funded by the Copyright Agency Cultural Fund and administered by Express Media.
This prize occurs each year around April to June and encourages young writers, publishers and digital experts to pitch an idea to Express Media from anywhere in Australia. The idea needs to demonstrate innovation in the field of literature and publication. This may involve writing for zines, e-zines, comics, multimedia, multi-artforms or cross-media works, websites, live performance and spoken word.
Keep an eye on the Express Media website for further details, and I’ll update here when the information comes to hand.
Other Publishing Opportunities
Rookie is an independently run online magzine and book series founded in 2011.
What they are looking for: writing, photography and other forms of artwork by teenagers.
Who can submit: children aged 13 and up. Although it’s based in the US, Stone Soup accepts work from around the world.
Current theme: The theme for March is ‘Apocalypse’. Keep checking back as I’ll update each month as info comes to hand.
Deadline: Wednesday 15 March 2017.
How to submit: Work must be submitted via emailing firstname.lastname@example.org – Please include your name and age, and use the subject line specified for each post.
Rates of pay: unspecified, other than an indication that payment is dependent on the type of work you are submitting.
For further info: Head to the Rookie submissions page
Voiceworks is a magazine accepting fiction, poetry, nonfiction, art and comics, from writers and artists who live in Australia (including international students) or by Australians living overseas.
The theme of Voiceworks’ Winter 2017 issue is ‘Retrograde’, but you don’t have to stick to it.
- Fiction: send no more than two stories, each no more than 3000 words.
- Poetry: send no more than three poems, each no more than 100 lines.
- Nonfiction: pitch your nonfiction work before submitting it. Head here for advice on how to construct your pitch and write good nonfiction. For completed work, send no more than two pieces, each no more than 3000 words.
- Art and comics: Voiceworks print in black-and-white (greyscale) and the page dimensions are 170 x 245 mm. For comics, it’s recommended you pitch them before submitting.
Deadlines: Nonfiction pitches are due Sunday 19 March; Fiction, poetry and completed nonfiction is due Sunday 2 April; Art and comics are due Sunday 30 May.
Rates of pay: $100 for written work or for one image; $150 for multi-page comics or suites of images.
For Further info: Head to the Voiceworks submission guidelines.
16. Stone Soup
Stone Soup is a print and digital magazine written and illustrated by young writers and artists. It was founded in 1973 by William Rubel and Gerry Mandel, who still oversee it’s publication.
What they are looking for: Poems, short stories (maximum 2,500 words), book reviews, illustrations, artwork, letters to the editor.
Who can submit: children aged 13 or younger. Although it’s based in the US, Stone Soup accepts work from around the world.
How to submit: Read the information on Stone Soup’s website for guidelines and tips about submitting particular types of work. You must submit via Submittable, which can be also be accessed on their submissions page.
Rates of pay: All contributors whose work is accepted receive a certificate, two copies of the magazine, and discounts on any other purchases. In addition, writers of stories, poems and book reviews are paid $25 each and illustrators are paid $20 per illustration.
Advice from Stone Soup: “Send us stories about the things you feel most strongly about. Whether your work is about imaginary situations or real ones, use your own experiences and observations to give your work depth and a sense of reality.”
Over to You
What have you been writing, and where will you send it?
Let me know – and keep an eye out for upcoming posts containing writing prompts to give you a kick-start, as well as helpful hints to remember when submitting your work to a competition, magazine or publisher.