CBC Literary Prizes FAQ

Have a question about the CBC Literary Prizes? Find your answer here!

When does each competition open? 

Short Story Prize: Submission period: September 1 to October 31 
Nonfiction Prize: Submission period: January 1 to February 28 
Poetry Prize: Submission period: April 1 to May 31 

Please ensure you submit your entry during the appropriate submission period. For example, we will not accept entries for Poetry during the Short Story Prize submission period. 

The deadline is at 11:59 p.m. ET on the day of the competition deadline. Please ensure that if you are mailing in your submission that the envelope is postmarked before or on deadline.

Why is the time deadline set for 11:59 p.m. EST? 

We needed to choose an exact cut-off time for the competition. As we receive the majority of our submissions online, it is almost impossible for us to keep track of which time zone a submission was sent in from.

How many entries do you receive each year? 

We receive an average of 10,000 entries every year. Among them, nearly 8,000 are submitted to the English competition: 40 per cent in the Short Story category, 35 per cent in the Poetry category, and 25 per cent in the Nonfiction category.

Is there a minimum age requirement? 

There are no age restrictions. However, if you're considered a minor, you will need a parent or guardian's signature on your entry form.

When will the winners be announced? 

The exact dates change from year to year, but traditionally the winners are announced about six months after the deadline. Check our website for updates.

What constitutes something being "previously published"? 

Any work that has been published online or in print, or recorded for broadcast, is considered published and ineligible. Please contact us directly if you would like to verify whether or not your text is eligible.

Do you retain the rights to my submission? 

You retain the right to your work, however, by participating in the competition you grant CBC Radio the right to broadcast or publish a short excerpt of your work.

If you are named one of the finalists for the Prize, CBC Radio receives the exclusive right to broadcast or publish your work for one year. If you win the competition, CBC Radio and our partners receive the exclusive right to publish (in print or online) or broadcast your work for one year.

Once a year has passed, publishing rights revert back to you and you are free to publish it where ever you like.

How do I submit online? 

Visit cbcliteraryprizes.submittable.com and create a Submittable account. You will need to fill out a submission form and then upload and pay for each of your entries.

What is Submittable? Why do I need to create an account to upload my entry?

Submittable is an external submission tool that CBC Radio uses to collect and evaluate submissions for the CBC Literary Prizes. They adhere to CBC's privacy policy. To find out more, click here. To participate you must create a Submittable account.

May I submit more than one entry? 

Yes. You can submit as many times as you like, and to as many categories. Please ensure you send the right entry at the right time. Please also note that each submission requires a completed entry form and a $25 entry fee. 

How should I count the words? 

Our word limits are strict. Texts below the minimum or over the maximum word count will be disqualified. Be sure to get an exact count of the number of words in your submission and not just an estimate. We use Microsoft Word to verify word counts. If you are using Microsoft Word, go to Tools, then Word Count. Please don't confuse word count and character count.

*Word count includes titles. Submissions over or under the specified word count will be disqualified.

Our word limits are strict in each category. To calculate word counts, we put your entire submission (including the title) into Microsoft Word and use Word's word counter. Since Word only relies on spaces to delimit words, any term containing a hyphen ("twenty-five") or an apostrophe ("can't", "don't") counts as a single word. Word also counts every article ("the", "a", etc.) as a separate word. Microsoft Word also automatically counts groups of characters (e.g. "xxx") as well as symbols (e.g. "***" or "~~~") as a word.

Do you disqualify texts after a certain number of spelling mistakes? 

No, submissions are judged on literary merit, on the basis of the author's use of language, originality of subject and writing style. However, out of respect for our readers and jurors, you should try to eliminate as many mistakes and typos as possible.

Are there any limits on what we can write about?

No, there are no restrictions on subject matter. The readers and jurors are not asked to censor the material in any way. Submissions are judged on literary merit, on the basis of the author's use of language, originality of subject and writing style.

Am I allowed to use a pen name?

You have to participate under your real name (when you fill out the entry form). The entry form is a contract where you agree to have read the rules and regulations and therefore must be completed using your legal name. If your submission is selected for the longlist we would contact you first before making any announcements. At that point you would indicate to us your preference to use a pen name.

I attached the wrong text. Can I send another or make changes?

Due to the high amount of submissions we receive, we do not allow any changes or substitutions once a text has been submitted. Please note that entry fees will not be refunded or transferred.

I put my name on my entry. What should I do?

Please, do not worry. We will remove your name, address, etc. You will not be disqualified for this. Please do not resubmit.

I was a finalist last year. Am I permitted to submit the same text this year?

As long as the text still remains unpublished, you may submit an updated and/or edited version of it. As the judging process is "blind" and as we have different readers and jurors from year to year, the same people will not be reading or evaluating your work.

Can we illustrate our submissions?

No, please do not send any photographs or illustrations along with your submission. Works submitted to the Prizes are judged by readers and jurors based on literary merit only. Any additional visual elements will not be considered.

Can we submit our texts elsewhere (simultaneous submissions)?

We discourage simultaneous submissions because of the work it incurs on our staff and the jurors. If you do decide to submit the same text to another contest or magazine, and are invited to have your work published elsewhere, please notify us immediately and we will pull your submission. Please note that your entry fee will not be reimbursed.

How should I pay my entry fee?

You must pay online using a credit card (VISA, MasterCard, American Express, Discover) or Paypal. First, fill out the online entry form, then upload and pay for your text.

Can I submit my entry online but pay by mail?

No. If you submit online you must pay online using a credit card (VISA, MasterCard, American Express, Discover) or Paypal.

Why do you charge an entry fee?

To enter the CBC Literary Prizes, a fee of $25 (taxes included) is required. The competition is 100 per cent not-for-profit with all fees covering part of the administrative costs, including salaries for readers and jury members for both the French and English entries. Without the fee, the Prizes would simply not exist.

Do I have to pay an entry fee for each entry submitted?

You must pay the $25 entry fee for each entry submitted. In the case of the Poetry Prize, the prize is for one long poem or a collection of poems. You only need to fill out one entry form and make one $25 payment, but the submission will be judged as a whole and must be a maximum of 600 words (including titles).

If I am sending a poetry collection do I have to pay an administration fee for each poem submitted?

In the case of the CBC Poetry Prize, the prize is for one long poem or a collection of poems. You only need to fill out one entry form and make one $25 administration fee payment, but the submission will be judged as a whole and must be a maximum of 600 words (including titles).

Didn't find what you were looking for? Email canadawrites@cbc.ca.

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