Registrants may submit one contest entry in each of the categories: Fiction, Nonfiction, and Poetry.

  • First Place Winners receive $500
  • Second Place Winners receive $250
  • Third Place Winners receive $125
  • Honorable Mention Winners receive $75 tuition break at HRW's 2022 Writers Conference


In an effort to encourage emerging writers, first-place winners of any of our previous contests are ineligible to enter work into the contest category for which they previously were awarded first place. For example, if you won first place in any of our fiction contests, you may not enter work again in the fiction category, but you are still eligible to enter work into both the poetry and nonfiction categories (provided that you also didn't win first place in one of those contests). If you are unsure whether you are eligible to enter in one or more of the categories, email

All entries must be unpublished in print, in e-zines, on blogs, and on personal websites and must NOT have placed (first, second, or third) in ANY previous writing contest outside of HRW.

Authors may submit ONLY one work in each category.

Entries must be typed on 8.5 x 11-inch white paper, 12-point Times New Roman or Courier font, black ink, double-spaced with 1-inch margins (Poetry does not necessarily need to be double-spaced).

Entries must include a removable title page that contains author’s name, address, category, title of the work, and word count.

The title and page number must appear on each subsequent page, in a header to the right. Do NOT include your name in the header. Entries with identifying information any place other than on the removable title page will be discarded. Be careful not to put your name under the title on page one or at the end of the work.

Mailed entries must include the conference registration fee (if entrant hasn't previously registered for the conference) and must be in our office by Friday, July 16. NOTE: July 16 is NOT a postmark date but is the day on which we must have the entry in our hands.

Failure to follow ANY of the rules will result in disqualification of entry.

All decisions by the judges are final, and all winners will be announced on FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 24, immediately following the keynote address. The first page of each first place winning entry will be read to the audience by a professional public speaker on SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 25, immediately following the keynote address.

With the exception of the first-place winners, contestants MAY retrieve their contest entries throughout the day on either Sept 24 or 25. First place winners' work will be available for pick up after the readings on September 24. Unclaimed entries will be discarded after the conference; we regret that we can neither store nor mail them.

The word count for each category is:

  • Fiction: One complete story, not to exceed 2500 words (NO CHAPTERS)
  • Nonfiction: One complete article, essay, or creative nonfiction submission, not to exceed 2500 words (NO CHAPTERS)
  • Poetry: One complete poem, not to exceed 100 lines

Judges have been requested to offer confidential written comments on each entry; the length and type of comments are at the discretion of each judge.

HRW is not responsible for lost submissions.