Lazette Gifford
Publisher & Editor
zette@cableone.net

 

The Hunt for Money:
Grants for Writing

By Erin Hartshorn
2006, Erin Hartshorn


Could you use more money? Would you like to get paid for your time while improving your writing skills? Does this sound like the SPAM you get in your in-box? Actually, grants exist for struggling artists, including writers, and with a bit of planning, you can apply for some funds to support you while you write.

The big one in the United States comes from the National Endowment for the Arts. This agency provides grants in creative fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry, as well as for translation of works in other languages. (Prose fellowships are awarded for even years; poetry for odd years. Plan now for 2008  -- applications will be taken in the spring of 2007.) Literature fellowships "enable recipients to set aside time for writing, research, travel, and general career advancement." Awards are $20,000, and funding may extend up to two years.

The NEA doesn't give grants to novices; to qualify in fiction, for example, one must have at least five short stories, a volume of short stories, or a novel or novella already published. (Yes, genre qualifies -- one NEA recipient: Kelly Link.) Half of the requirement for short stories may be fulfilled by on-line publications. Annual deadlines fall on March 1. Guidelines for the next round of applications will be posted in January 2007. Details can be found on-line (http://www.arts.gov/grants/apply/Lit06/index.html).

Individual states often have their own set of grants. In Pennsylvania, the Council of Arts (http://www.pacouncilonthearts.org/pca.cfm?id=3&level=First)  offers fellowships to individual creative artists. Again, there is an even/odd year dichotomy, with fiction funded in even years and poetry in odd years. Funding varies from $5,000 to $10,000, and application deadlines are in August of each year. For information in your home state, go to your state's homepage and search on "arts" as a keyword to find the correct agency.

However, it's not just your tax dollars that can support your writing habit. Private organizations have money, too.

A Room of Her Own administers the "Gift of Freedom Award," up to $50,000 over a two-year span, to be used by a woman with talent, a specific project to accomplish, and a desire for self-sufficiency. Criteria for the award include ability (as determined from a writing sample), fiscal responsibility, community involvement, and commitment to a specific project. The next deadline is February 1, 2007; there is a $35 entry fee. Details and a downloadable application form can be found on-line (http://www.aroomofherown.org/giftfreedom.html).

The Hobson Foundation (http://www.hobsonfoundation.com/dreamgrant.html) has, for the past three years, provided a "dream grant" of up to $1,000 to fulfill your dreams -- or work toward them, anyway. A fee of $15 is required. Applications will be available January 2007, with a deadline of June 1, 2007.

For those who live in the San Francisco Bay Area (or who are willing to relocate there), Stanford University offers five fiction and five poetry fellowships each year, including a living stipend and workshop tuition. Details on the Stegner Fellowship can be found on-line (http://www.stanford.edu/dept/english/cw/fellowship.html).

The Speculative Literature Foundation awards three grants each year -- one Travel Grant and two Older Writers Grants. The Travel Grant (http://www.speculativeliterature.org/Awards/SLFTravelGrant.php)  is $600 to be used toward airfare, lodging, or other travel expenses. Got a specfic convention you're eyeing, but travel costs too much? Apply. Applications are considered July through September, with the award announced October 15. Applications can be made year-round for travel to take place from October through the following October. Plan ahead for next year. The Older Writers grants (http://www.speculativeliterature.org/Awards/SLFOlderWriters.php) are $500 each. Submissions must be made between October 1st and December 31st, and awards are announced March 1st. Applicants must be at least fifty, but previous publication is not required.

Some places simply collect links to other sites (sort of like this article). This can be handy if you're looking for a niche, or want to see if things have been updated recently. A decent starting place is the Foundation Center (http://foundationcenter.org/getstarted/guides/write.html);  this site includes information on proposal writing as well as links to sources of funds. Funds for Writers offers free samples on its Website (http://www.fundsforwriters.com/grants.htm), as well as two free newsletters and a paid newsletter subscription ($12 per year). The Michigan State Library (http://www.lib.msu.edu/harris23/grants/3writing.htm) hosts a list of Websites, databases, and books. Poets & Writers maintains a short list (http://www.pw.org/links_pages/Grants_and_Awards). The PEN American Center has a list of grants and awards on its Website, but you must purchase a subscription to use it ($12 annually if not a PEN member). The grants and awards link is under "Publications" in the menu bar on their Website (http://www.pen.org). The Fund for Women Writers also has a list of funding resources (http://www.womenarts.org/fund/SourcesforIndividualArtists.htm).

The United States has no monopoly on philanthropy; the U.S. isn't even the most generous country out there toward writers. Similar facilities exist in Canada. The Association of Canadian Publishers maintains a list of grants (http://www.publishers.ca/publishing-writing-grants.htm). The Toronto Arts Council has details on-line about their grant program (http://www.torontoartscouncil.org/grant-main.htm); the British Columbia Arts Council also has awards information (http://www.bcartscouncil.ca/programs/program.php?active_page=757). Places for Writers has a long list of awards separated by deadline (http://www.placesforwriters.com/funding.html).

In England, the Arts Council England is the primary source of grants for individuals, although they have cut funding to many organizations. Their application pack has been recently updated (September 2006); details can be found on their Website (http://www.artscouncil.org.uk/funding/gfta2006.php). Support for writing short stories and novels is available in amounts up to 30,000 pounds and can cover up to three years. The average grant for 2005-2006 was 5,580 pounds. The Arts Council expects applicants to use other means of funding as well, and they have a Word document available on their Website with ideas on where to find other money.

The Orange Prize for Fiction is available for a woman of any nationality who has published her first work of fiction (novella, short story collection, or novel). The prize (supported by Arts Council England) is 10,000 pounds. Details on their Website (http://www.orangeprize.co.uk/news/index.html)

Sites that list other funding sources include Proof Positive (http://proofpositive.com/categories/Grants/International-Writers-Grants/), Kala Kahani (http://www6.cuttlefish.com/forums/kk/viewtopic.php?p=30&sid=8144ec8c74c7152dea93663fa170ad27),  and Creative Industries Development Service (http://www.cids.co.uk/fundingopportunities.asp?f=1&).

Australia Council for the Arts (homepage http://www.ozco.gov.au) is the primary body for literature grants in that country (http://www.ozco.gov.au/boards/literature). All deadlines for 2006 grant applications have passed. Fellowships, which require a minimum of 5 previous major works, are for AUS$45,000 per year for 2 years. New work grants, available in varying amounts depending on category, also require previous publication. The deadline for fellowships and new work grants in 2006 was May 15; look in spring 2007 for information on the next round of applications.

The Australian/Vogel Literary Award is $20,000 for an unpublished manuscript. Entries open in February 2007. If past record is any indication, entries close at the end of May. The Allen & Unwin site (http://www.allen-unwin.com.au/vogel/entry.asp) has details. Trinity College (Australia) maintains a list of competitions and grants -- including some for young writers. (http://www.trinity.wa.edu.au/plduffyrc/subjects/english/writing/writcomp.htm).

Grant applications often require some list of previous work, whether a bibliography or literary resume. Jay Lake has put his literary resume (for an application to the Oregon Arts Commission) up on his LiveJournal (http://jaylake.livejournal.com/685176.html). He asked the commission how a literary resume differed from a bibliography. They said, "The resume is often reflective of artistic work -- the panel typically does want to know more than a bibliography would provide. Your choice."

Writing Grants (Especially for the Humanities) has a handout, discussion, and sample grant proposals available on-line (http://www.english.uga.edu/cdesmet/grantwri.htm). For other help on writing grants, see the Foundation Center, mentioned earlier in this article.

The bottom line is that there is money out there, but you have to prove yourself. As always in writing, read the guidelines and follow them. You have to meet the individual requirements, and many of the larger grants require publication credits to apply. It can't hurt to check grants out. Who couldn't use a little extra in their bank account?