In partnership with Richmond magazine, James River Writers offers annual writing contests on a three-year sequence:
- 2018: Shann Palmer Poetry Contest encourages Virginian poets to share their best work.
- 2019: Best Self-published Novel Contest recognizes the writing talents and entrepreneurial skills of indie authors.
- 2020: Best Unpublished Novel Contest unearths the best unpublished fiction of aspiring authors in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Each year, JRW recognizes an organization or person who, as Emyl Jenkins did, inspires a love of writing and writing education in Virginia.