Writer Grants: Funding for Your Next Novel

Sarah Rexford
July 28, 2021 | 7 mins

Research is essential to great writing. Writer grants can help you add to your budget of doing thorough research.

Whether you write fiction or nonfiction, fantasy or memoir, dystopian or self-help, a well-researched book carries credibility. 

Your research will look different depending on the type of book that you write, but research should be done just the same.

If you write historical fiction, traveling to the places you plan to write about will help you get a feel for exactly what you’re writing. 

If you write nonfiction books on the lives of famous sports players, attending games and watching training will quickly help you understand the process these players go through.

This is intentional research: You have a goal to write a specific book and understand what you need to research to do so.

On the other hand, you may have done this research unaware: Simply tasting the type of food you’d one day put in front of your characters, swimming in the lakes or ocean your character will be lost in, and trying on heels as a child and feeling that I’m-walking-on-stilts feeling only heels can give. Or maybe you got a flat tire on the highway and now you know what you need to know to get your character out of a life or death situation. 

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Living your story

Whatever research you’ve done, the best writing includes the appropriate amount of detail. 

If you say your character hiked a volcano that’s one thing.

But traveling to a volcano, hiking up the path onto the dark, almost glistening black dirt, not a spot of green around, feeling the grit of ash in your shoes…this adds realism only experience can bring. 

So what if you want to write a story but don’t have the experience you need to write it? 

What if you want to write about Pompeii, but live in Georgia and have never seen a volcano in person?  

This is where writing grants come into play. 

If you are passionate about your writing idea but aren’t sure how to pay yourself through all the research you need to do, applying for and landing a writing grant may be your next step. 

A writing grant can help you gain access to the places you need to go so you can conduct your research and write your book. Used alongside crowdfunding, this can be a great way to stretch your reach and achieve more with your budget.

Are there grants for writers?

The easy answer is yes! There are grants for writers and you don’t need to be a bestseller to obtain a writing grant. 

Patrick Hicks said his trips to Poland greatly shaped his first novel, The Commandant of Lubizec. In this article he says, “Granting agencies saw my work with the Holocaust was unique and they understood I had to walk the soil of various concentration camps in order to write about this moment in history properly.”

If you feel you need to go to a certain location to do justice to your story and therefore the research for it, it’s time to start working on securing a writer’s grant. 

A Woman Noting Down Information About Writer Grants

How do you get grants to write a book?

Just as it takes research and applications to get into the right college or graduate program, to be accepted for a writer’s grant, you must do your research. 

Browse the internet, talk with colleagues, and find out what type of grant you need. Then start those applications. Remember to be specific about what you need and why. For instance, asking for a large grant because you love traveling in Europe and want to write about your experiences is unlikely to go over well. 

However, writing for a particular cause or with a very specific, reader-focused reason is much more likely to make your application stand out. 

Patrick Hicks acquired a grant not because he wanted free travel, but because he wanted to conduct credible research on a devastating part of history. His work on the Holocaust was specific and he needed to be on location to conduct his research well. 

Clearly articulate to yourself your goal, why it is your goal, and what you need to research to get to this goal, then research different writing grants and start sending those applications in. Remember, the writing in your application should reflect the level of writing the grant will support. 

To save time and heighten your chances of success, apply for multiple grants at once. That way you won’t have to wait to hear a rejection from one before moving on. 

Organize your outreach

You may want to create a list of grants you want to apply for before beginning. This will help you keep track of which grants you’ve submitted to, and which ones you still need to apply for. You could create a simple Excel spreadsheet with a list of grants, then create three columns, one for grants you need to apply for, one for grants you have applied for, and the third for grants that accepted or rejected your application. 

As you check off the cells, don’t get discouraged if you don’t land a grant right away. Just as a reader must believe in your book idea in order to read your book, those who review grant applications must believe in your reasoning: Why are you the one person they should offer this grant to? What makes you unique? What makes your situation or story idea unique? 

When applying, ensure you present yourself in an honest way that reflects both your individuality and writing ability. 

List of writer grants

While there are a myriad of options when it comes to writing grants that support your research, sometimes it helps to see what other types of grants are out there.

Having a list of grants to refer back to can help you get started on this part of your writing journey and also broaden your view on what type of grants would be helpful for your particular situation. 

As you look through this list and search on your own, take particular care to note the application deadlines. Before starting your application, make sure you can complete it and turn it in before the deadline.  

1. Various Fellowships – The Writers’ Colony 

“The Writers’ Colony at Dairy Hollow is a 501(c)3 nonprofit that provides uninterrupted residency time for writers of all genres, including culinary, composers, and artists without discrimination. We foster an environment that allows writers to work, interact with the wider community, stimulate new thinking, and energize creative expression.”

2. Canada Council For The Arts

“The Research and Creation component of Explore and Create supports the initial stages of the creative process. Canadian artists, artistic groups and arts organizations can apply to develop and make creative works. Grants provide support for creative research, creation and project development.”

3. Authors’ Contingency Fund

“Our grants are there for a wide range of purposes. That could mean emergency relief to support you through the health crisis. Or it could mean help with an unexpected expense, so the inconvenience of a broken boiler, laptop or washing machine doesn’t become a crisis.”

4. Bard College Fiction Prize

“The Bard Fiction Prize is awarded to a promising emerging writer who is an American citizen aged 39 years or younger at the time of application. In addition to a $30,000 cash award, the winner receives an appointment as writer in residence at Bard College for one semester, without the expectation that he or she teach traditional courses. The recipient gives at least one public lecture and meets informally with students.”

5. Sustainable Arts Foundation Award

“The Sustainable Arts Foundation supports artists and writers with children. We make annual unrestricted cash awards to individuals; at least half of these awards are made to applicants of color. We also support artist residencies in their efforts to make their programs more family-friendly.”

6. Awesome Foundation Grant

“The Awesome Foundation is a global community advancing the interest of awesome in the universe, $1000 at a time.”

7. Karen And Philip Cushman Late Bloomer Award 

“The Karen and Philip Cushman Late Bloomer Award is for authors over the age of fifty who have not been traditionally published in the children’s literature field.” 

8. The George A. And Eliza Gardner Howard Foundation Fellowship

“The George A. and Eliza Gardner Howard Foundation is an independent foundation administered at Brown University. It awards a limited number of fellowships each year for independent projects in selected fields.”

9. Writers In Paradise Fellowships

“For an entire week, we strive to provide an open, inclusive, and nurturing environment where creativity, critical awareness and writing techniques can be exercised, fostered and encouraged.”

10. Creative Capital

“Creative Capital provides each funded project with up to $50,000 in direct funding plus additional career development services.”

Best wishes to you as you apply and further your writing dream

Planning your nonfiction book?

Check out our nonfiction book writing guide here get Our Pre-Formatted Nonfiction Outline by clicking on the banner below!

Planning your fiction book?

Check out our post here on how to write a novel plus grab a fiction book outline!

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