In partnership with Richmond magazine, James River Writers offers an annual writing contest on a three-year sequence:
- 2017: Best Unpublished Novel Contest unearths the best unpublished fiction of aspiring authors in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
- 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.
Each year, JRW recognizes an organization or person who, as Emyl Jenkins did, inspires a love of writing and writing education in Virginia.