CBC Literary Prizes

CBC Literary Prizes rules & regulations

Before you enter the CBC Literary Prizes, read this.


Canadian citizens and permanent residents of Canada are eligible to enter. For any contestant who has not reached the age of majority in his/her province or country of residence, parental or guardian consent is necessary to enter the Contest.

Employees of CBC/Radio-Canada, Canada Council for the Arts, Banff Centre and their affiliates, as well as their immediate family (father/mother, brother/sister, son/daughter) and persons living under the same roof, are not eligible to enter this competition.

Previously published authors may submit texts providing that the submissions are original unpublished works. There must be only one author per entry.

All works that have published or broadcast are considered not eligible for the competition.



Candidates warrant that the work they are submitting is an original and unpublished work written by them and that they own all rights to it. Candidates will indemnify and hold CBC/Radio-Canada, Banff Centre and Canada Council for the Arts and their affiliates, harmless from and against any and all loss, damage, costs and other expense arising out of claims, whatever their nature, resulting directly or indirectly from breach of this warranty.

Candidates submitting to the prize

In submitting their work, each participant grants CBC/Radio-Canada (both for French and English services) the following licenses free of charge and irrevocably:

  • The right to translate an excerpt from the work submitted (no more than 15% of its total length)
  • The non-exclusive right to reproduce and publish an excerpt from the work submitted (no more than 15% of its total length) on the websites and platforms controlled or authorized by CBC/Radio-Canada, both in the original language and in translation


Finalists and winners

In accepting a prize, the winners and finalists grant to CBC/Radio-Canada, for the entire term of all rights, the following licenses:

  • The right to translate the work
  • The right to reproduce and publish the work in all formats, including on the websites and platforms controlled or authorized by CBC/Radio-Canada and on any future merchandise, both in the original language and in translation; net income from any sale or exploitation of merchandise shall be split 50/50 between CBC/Radio-Canada and the author or authors
  • The right to make an audio/video recording by means of any existing or not-yet-invented technology, to distribute and broadcast readings of works or excerpts therefrom in the original language or in translation, on CBC/Radio-Canada networks and websites/platforms controlled or authorized by CBC/Radio-Canada
  • The right to edit, abridge or excerpt the work for the purposes of publication or broadcast. (The author will be consulted if significant edits are necessary.)

For a purpose of clarity, the Licenses granted to CBC/Radio-Canada by the finalists and winners are for all territories throughout the world (unless another agreement is reached with CBC/Radio-Canada) and are exclusive for a year from the date of acceptance of the prize and non-exclusive thereafter, Moreover, the finalist and winners, as well as the people accompanying them, or their parents or guardians if the winners are minors, shall agree, if necessary, to have their name and/or picture, including their photograph and/or their voice used for advertising purposes related to this competition, free of charge.

These licenses include the rights for CBC/Radio-Canada to grant sub-licences to exercise the rights granted by this licence.



All submitted works must be original and unpublished works. Texts submitted to the CBC Literary Prizes must be written in English (works written in multiple languages and translations are not eligible). Texts written in French must be submitted to the Prix de la création. The work submitted must fall within the category in which it submitted and be within the specified word count for that category*. Works may be submitted for the following 3 categories:


  • Short Story (up to 2,500 words; fiction)*
  • Nonfiction (up to 2,000 words)*
  • Poetry (up to 600 words; in verse or prose)*

The Nonfiction Prize includes memoir, biography, humour writing, essay (including personal essay), travel writing, and feature articles. While the events must be real and the facts true, creative nonfiction conveys your message through the use of literary techniques such as characterization, plot, setting, dialogue, narrative and personal reflection. The work should be accessible to a general reading audience (i.e., not written for a specialized or academic audience).

*Word count includes all words contained in the work including but not limited to titles, footnotes, introductions, etc. Submissions over 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.

Participants may submit as many texts as they wish in one or all categories. A writer can win only one prize per category. Each text may be submitted to only one category.

For each manuscript entered, participants must complete a separate official entry form and pay the entry fee.




Texts can only be submitted online by creating an account through Submittable. Participants must fill out the online registration form and submit their text in Word or Wordpad (.doc, .rtf or .docx) format. Submittable is an external site designated by CBC Radio to manage the submissions to the competition. They adhere to CBC's privacy policy.

If you are unable to submit your content online, please contact the CBC Literary Prizes team to obtain an alternate form of entry.

All submissions must:


  • Be accompanied by the official entry form and the parental permission (electronic or print version) if applicable
  • Be submitted anonymously: the name of the entrant must not appear anywhere on the text to ensure the objectivity of the jury
  • Be in letter format (8½'' by 11'')
  • Be double spaced, except for poetry texts
  • Be in a legible font and font size
  • Be submitted to the correct category during the entry period for that category



  • All submissions are final: no changes or substitutions are allowed
  • No handwritten manuscripts or fax texts will be accepted
  • Editorial comments will not be given on the works


A fee of $25.00 (taxes included) for administration purposes is required for each entry. The competition is 100% not-for-profit, with all fees going towards covering administrative costs, which include payment of readers and jurors of the competition. 

​The entry fee will not be refunded if your submission is ineligible. All submissions are final: entry fees are non-refundable and non-transferable. 

Submission Deadlines:

Short Story

Competition opens: September 1, 2020

Deadline: October 31, 2020


Competition opens: January 1, 2020

Deadline: February 29, 2020


Competition opens: April 1, 2020

Deadline: May 31, 2020

Participants must verify the exact deadlines on the cbcbooks.ca website. Please note that CBC/Radio-Canada is permitted to modify these deadlines at any time. 

Online submission: all works must be submitted and payments must be made on or before 11:59 PM (ET) on the day of the deadline.

Winners will be announced approximately six months after the deadline for each competition.



Works are judged anonymously on the basis of the author's use of language, originality of subject and writing style.

Only the work submitted will be considered by the judges, other documents, images, diagrams etc. are not eligible for consideration by the judges. 

Submissions are processed by a two-tiered system in both languages (English, French) by readers and jurors.

The initial texts are screened by readers chosen for each category from a group of qualified editors and writers across the country. Each text is read by two readers.

The English readers come up with a preliminary list of approximately 100 texts that are then forwarded to a second group of readers who will decide upon the approximately 30 entries that comprise the longlist and be forwarded to the jury.

The French readers come up with a longlist of approximately 20 texts that are forwarded to the jury.

The English and French juries will read all stories on the longlist and decide on a shortlist of five in each language, which will include a first-place winner and four runners-up. The members of the jury (three per category) are composed of eminent writers and editors from the Canadian literary community.

Every effort is made to achieve a balance of gender and diversity in the readers and judges and to reflect regional differences and trends. The readers and jurors change every year and are based in different areas of the country.

Jurors and readers in each category will be chosen by CBC/Radio-Canada, the Canada Council for the Arts and the Banff Centre.

All decisions by the readers and the jury are final (subject to meeting any conditions and eligibility criteria as determined by CBC). Readers' names are confidential until the end of the competition to ensure the judging process remains blind.



Canada Council for the Arts will offer five cash prizes in each category and in each language:

  • Grand Prize: $6,000
  • Four finalists will receive $1,000 each 


Moreover, the Grand Prize winner will receive a two-week residency at The Banff Centre which will include:

  • accommodation and meals at The Banff Centre for two weeks;
  • 24-hour access to a studio; and
  • opportunities to access Banff Centre events and performances for free.

Winners must use their prize within one year of the prize award, at a time mutually agreeable to the Banff Centre and the prize winner. This prize does not include travel costs to and from the residency at Banff.

Moreover, CBC/Radio-Canada will provide visibility to winners and their work on one or more of its platforms.

Participants may win only one prize per category. Participants maintain ownership of their works, although rights to reproduce and distribute them to the public are limited by the licences granted according to these rules.

Prizes shall be accepted as is, and may not be exchanged or transferred. No substitutions shall be allowed.

If a prize cannot be awarded as described in these rules, CBC/Radio-Canada, The Banff Centre and the Canada Council for the Arts reserve the right to substitute one or more prizes or prize components with another of approximately equivalent value.

To be proclaimed winners, participants must meet all the conditions and eligibility criteria set out in these rules. The winners, or in the of case minors, their parents or guardians, shall provide information requested by CBC in this regard, and shall sign a declaration of eligibility for the competition, as set out in these rules, and release CBC/Radio-Canada, the Canada Council for the Arts, The Banff Centre and their affiliated companies or agents, as well as their respective directors, officers and employees, from any liability for damage or loss whatsoever, whether arising from the participants' involvement in this competition or from the awarding, acceptance or use of the prize.

A winner's refusal to accept a prize shall release CBC/Radio-Canada, the Canada Council for the Arts, The Banff Centre and their affiliated companies or agents, as well as their respective directors, officers and employees, from all obligations towards the winner.



Should participants make any false statement, they shall be automatically disqualified from the competition. If plagiarism is alleged, the jury shall conduct a reasonable inquiry in the circumstances, and if it determines that plagiarism has occurred, the participant concerned shall be disqualified and shall return the prize money. Such a decision by the jury shall be final and cannot be appealed.

CBC/Radio-Canada, The Banff Centre and Canada Council for the Arts and their affiliates, as well as their respective directors, officers and employees, assume no liability for any loss, damage or injury, including without limitation:  (i) lost, stolen delayed, damaged, misdirected, late, destroyed, incorrect, illegible or incomplete entries; (ii) loss, theft or damage to software or computer or telephone data, including any breach of privacy; (iii) inability of any person to participate in the Contest for any reason including mistaken addresses on mail or e-mail; technical, computer or telephone malfunctions or other problems with computer on-line systems, servers, access providers, computer equipment, or software; congestion on the internet or at any website, or any combination of the foregoing; (iv) damage to any person's computer, including as a result of playing or downloading any material relating to the Contest; (v) any delay or inability to act resulting from an event or situation beyond their control, including a strike, lockout or other labour dispute at their location or the locations of the organizations and businesses whose services are used to administer this Contest' or (vi) prizes that are lost, damaged or misdirected during shipping.

The CBC/Radio-Canada, The Banff Centre and Canada Council for the Arts and their affiliates shall assume no liability of any kind whatsoever in any cases in which their inability to act results from an event or situation beyond their control, including more particularly a strike, lock-out or any other labour dispute in their place of business or the places of business of the organizations or businesses whose services are used to hold this competition.

All personal information, such as your name, address, telephone number and email address, is collected solely for use in connection with this competition including administering this competition and shall not be used for any other purpose without your consent. By providing this information, you consent to it being used for the stated purposes.

By entering, participants agree to abide by the competition rules which shall be interpreted and applied by the CBC/Radio-Canada in its sole discretion. CBC/Radio-Canada may in its sole discretion consult the jury in its interpretation or application of the rules. All CBC/Radio-Canada decisions are final and without appeal.

This competition is subject to all Canadian federal, provincial and municipal legislation applicable.

In case of appeals, all English participant claims will be addressed in the Toronto courts.


In Partnership With


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.