CBC Literary Prizes

9 mistakes to avoid when submitting to the CBC Literary Prizes

The 2023 CBC Nonfiction Prize is open for submissions until Feb. 28, 2023 at 11:59 p.m. ET. Check out this list of the most common mistakes people make when submitting to the CBC Literary Prizes.

The 2023 CBC Nonfiction Prize is open for submissions until Feb. 28, 2023 at 11:59 p.m. ET

A quick double check of your work can go a long way. (123RF)

The 2023 CBC Nonfiction Prize is currently open for submissions! You can submit original, unpublished works of nonfiction up to 2,000 words. Memoir, biography, humour writing, essay, personal essay, travel writing or a feature article are all accepted.

The winner will receive $6,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts, have the opportunity to attend a two-week writing residency at Artscape Gibraltar Point, a cultural hub on Toronto Island, and have their work published on CBC Books.

Four finalists will each receive $1,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts and have their work published on CBC Books.

If you're thinking about entering one of the CBC Literary Prizes, make sure you check your work twice to avoid these common mistakes.

1. Not respecting the word count

We are strict when it comes to word count. Every entry we receive is individually verified, and those that do not meet the parameters do not move on — even those that are a few words above the word count (to see how we check, visit our FAQ). Submissions to the Short Story Prize can be up to 2,500 words. Submissions to the Nonfiction Prize can to be up to 2,000 words. Submission to the Poetry Prize can be up to 600 words. There is no minimum word requirement for our Prizes.

2. Sending in work that has been previously published

The CBC Literary Prizes recognizes original, unpublished work. The winning entry and the four finalists will have their work published on CBC Books. If your work is published elsewhere, it is not eligible. Posting work on social media or on a personal website does not count as published. If you're unsure if your work is eligible, email us at canadawrites@cbc.ca.

3. Including your name (and address) in the file

The CBC Literary Prizes are blind competition. Remove your name and any identifying information from your submission (except the title, of course). We have our own ways to keep track of who you are and what you wrote. 

4. Sending the wrong file

Are you attaching the proper document? Sometimes we receive emails from people who realize they've sent in the wrong version of their story. Some keep tinkering with it after it's been submitted and want to send a tighter version. By then it's too late. We only accept one version of each entry for evaluation.

5. Sending photos, illustrations or other media along with your submission

We've seen it all — pictures of cats, family portraits, mathematical diagrams, musical CDs. Extra material does not get sent along with your submission to our readers, only the text is passed forward. 

6. Choosing an illegible font or font size

Be sure to think about the reader when submitting to the prizes. Be creative with your story, not its presentation on the page. The less distraction our readers have the better they will be able to read your work.

7. Sending a story or poem to the wrong competition

The timelines for the three CBC Literary Prizes are set and nonnegotiable. Submit your work to the correct prize when the prize is open for submissions.

8. Not reading the rules and regulations

We know rules and regulations can seem long and boring. But if you have any questions about what you need to send, you'll find it here. And if you can't, email us

9. Submitting at the last minute

Things tend to be rushed at the last minute, then you forget to postmark your envelope or sign your cheque or send the wrong story or misspell your email address (which means you won't get a confirmation email from us). It's all tied together. Sure, you can procrastinate. But it might make a difference.

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To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

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