CBC Literary Prizes

9 mistakes to avoid when submitting to the CBC Literary Prizes

Check out this list of the most common mistakes people make when submitting to the CBC Literary Prizes.

Pouring creative mind and heart into writing an entry for the competition, then making a mistake in the transfer that disqualifies you. It's like running a marathon, but forgetting to cross the finish line.

1. Not respecting the word count

We are very 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 or below the word count (to see how we check, visit our FAQ). Submissions to the Short Story Prize can be up to 2,500 words with no minimum requirement. Submissions to the Nonfiction Prize can to be up to 2,000 words, and every submission to Poetry Prize can be up to 600 words (no minimum). 

2. Sending in work that has been published

The CBC Literary Prizes recognizes original, unpublished work. The winning entry and the four finalists will have their stories published on CBC Books.

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

It's impossible to anonymously evaluate a text when you have the person's name sitting in the right hand corner of the last page. Please 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 frantic 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 — none of which gets sent along with your submission to our readers. So please, focus on your poem or story — not your pets.

6. Choosing an illegible font or font size

Be sure to think about the reader when submitting to the prizes. It's hard to read something in 10 pt "Cowboy" font. Be creative with your story and 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 nonegotiable. If you have any doubts, please ask us. In the past, writers have been removed from the shortlist because the work was sent to the wrong category.

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

We know this one often can't be helped, but if you give yourself enough time it's unlikely you will make any errors when submitting to the prizes. 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 not to the 11th hour.

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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.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.