The 2020 Writing Contest will open on January 1, 2020!


Table of Contents


Opens: January 1, 2020.

Closes: February 1, 2020, at 11:59 p.m.

  • All entry fees, online entry forms, and writing entries must be uploaded by this deadline.

  • You will receive a confirmation e-mail within 24 hours. If you do not receive said e-mail, notify the webmaster at the following link: Contact the Webmaster.

  • Entrants are encouraged to submit at least two weeks prior to the deadline to avoid any last-minute issues.

Notifications: Awards will be announced during the awards banquet portion of the 2020 OWFI Annual Conference on the evening of May 2, 2020, as well as on our website, social media sites, and in the Summer issue of the OWFI Report.

If you are unable to attend the banquet, your award(s) will be mailed to you. Please make sure the address you have on file with OWFI is correct, especially if you have recently moved. To check and/or update your address in our members’ database, click here.



A $30 non-refundable entry fee covers as many entries as eligibility allows. (See eligibility section for details.)


Unpublished Categories (1-29):

  • First Place – $50 and Electronic Badge

  • Second Place – $35 and Electronic Badge

  • Third Place – $20 and Electronic Badge

  • Honorable Mentions (if number of entries permit) – Electronic Badge. No cash award.

  • Crème de la Crème (Best of all 1st place unpublished winners) – $500, Trophy, and Electronic Badge

Published Categories (30-34):

  • Winner – Trophy and Electronic Badge. No cash award.

All Entries:

  • We encourage our judges to provide feedback on all entries. All judges are vetted through an application process and are authors, agents, editors, or other writing/publishing professionals.

Eligibility Requirements

  1. Entrants must be members of OWFI.

    In order to join the contest, you must be a member of OWFI in good standing during the entire period of the contest. If your membership expires at any time during the contest, please be aware that your piece(s) will only be considered valid if you are still a member of OWFI on the date the awards are announced (see timeline section, above).

    To check your membership status, click here.

    For information on joining OWFI, visit our membership page. Types of memberships are as follows:

    • Member-at-Large – $30

    • Affiliate Club Member – $25

    • Student – Free

  2. All entrants (including students) must pay the $30 non-refundable contest entry fee.

  3. An entrant can only enter ONCE PER CATEGORY.

    Feel free to enter as many categories as you’d like, though. Teams and individuals are considered separate entities. Therefore, an entrant can enter a category as both an individual and a member of a co-authored piece.

  4. A piece can be entered in ONLY ONE CATEGORY.

    Feel free to enter as many categories as you’d like. However, you cannot enter the same piece in multiple categories.

  5. For unpublished categories, NO IDENTIFYING INFORMATION, such as either your legal or pen name, may appear on any page of your entry. Inclusion of identifying information will result in immediate disqualification with no refund of entry fee. (This rule is impractical for published books and, therefore, does not apply to published book categories.)

    If entering a piece of work that includes your name throughout the piece, such as a memoir, replace your name with another in order to meet the requirement of having no identifying information.

    OWFI strives to conduct a fair and unbiased contest. Judges are provided the submitted writing piece only. They are not privy to the entry forms or any other personal information about the entrants.

  6. Contestants who win first place in an OWFI unpublished contest category may not enter that same category the following year.

    Contestants who win in an OWFI published category may enter that same category the following year, but may not enter the same piece.

  7. No manuscript that has won a cash prize (first, second, or third place) in a previous OWFI contest may be entered again, with one exception as follows:

    If your piece won a cash prize in an unpublished category, you may enter that same piece in a published category once it has been published. The piece must comply with the rules for the category entered.

  8. Entries in all unpublished categories must not have been published or accepted for publication at the time of submission.

    Works that have been posted on any online media including blogs (other than your own personal/author blog), websites, social media, or other online venues (except for critique purposes) are considered published and are not eligible for entry in unpublished categories.

    If accepted by a publisher after entry, the submission will be considered valid.

  9. Books entered in any published book category must have a first edition copyright year of 2018 or 2019.

  10. Only electronic submissions are permitted. This includes the published book categories.

  11. Judges may not enter a category in which they are a judge.

  12. Contest chairs (if any) may not enter a category in which they are the chair.

  13. Co-Authored Entries

    • All members of the writing team must be OWFI members.

    • The team will be considered a single entrant and must pay a separate entry fee for their co-authored entries.

    • Teams and individuals are considered separate entities in regard to category submissions. (See Rule #3.)

    • Co-authored entries include such works as published anthologies and compilations of works by multiple authors.

Entry Procedures

  1. Complete the online contest entry form and pay $30 NONREFUNDABLE entry fee here: Enter the Contest.

    This covers entry into as many categories as permitted by the OWFI Contest Rules contained on this page.

  2. Fill out your online submission form here: Submit a Manuscript.

    • Each submission will need a separate submission form.

    • Your electronic writing piece must be attached to each submission. For published categories, this file must include your book cover.

    • An automated confirmation e-mail will be sent for each submission and will serve as your receipt of submissions. If you do not receive this within 24 hours, please contact our webmaster here: Contact Us.

    • Entrants are encouraged to submit at least 2 weeks prior to the contest deadline to assure entries are received on time.

File Preparation

Acceptable File Types

  • Unpublished Categories – .doc, .docx, or .pdf formats.

  • Published Categories – .pdf, .mobi, or .epub formats.

File Name Requirements

Name your file in the following format:

cat[category number][manuscript title without spaces or accents]

Example 1:

If you are entering a piece entitled "The Rats of Penzance," into "Category 4 – Prose Humor," and your file is in .docx format.

Name your file as follows:

File will automatically save with the file extension as follows:

Example 2 (with punctuation):

If you are entering a piece entitled, "Morning's Dew," into "Category 10 – Poetry: Rhymed Long," and the file type is .pdf.

Name your file as follows:

File will automatically save with the file extension as follows:



Contact Information

For any questions – Chat with us on Slack

For contest questions – Contact the Contest Chair

For issues with the website or forms – Contact the Webmaster

For issues with payments – Contact the Treasurer


Good luck and happy writing!