We are delighted to announce that our 2017 finalist judge
is Jeffery Renard
Allen, author of Rails
Under My Back, etc.
The 2017 Leapfrog Fiction Contest is open for entries through
send any questions to
Click on the links above to read about
2016 and other past winners.
Read an interview
with last year's finalist judge, Sara Pritchard,
Read an interview with
Leapfrog's Lisa Graziano in Ploughshares' Indie Spotlight. Click
How to Enter
What to Enter
Questions We Are Frequently Asked
How to Enter
We will accept all entries through our
Submittable page, which you can find here
The entry fee is $33.
What to Enter
Adult, young adult (YA)
and middle grade (MG) novels, novellas, and short story
collections are accepted. Minimum word count: 22,000. Individual
stories in a collection may have been published in journals.
Books that have been self-published will be considered
"unpublished" if fewer than about 200 copies were printed.
We look for literary fiction and mainstream fiction, including science fiction. Generally we are less interested in strict genre fiction, but if a manuscript is good and grabs our attention, we don't care what the genre is.
finalist judge is Jeffery Renard Allen.
interview with Mr. Allen
Song of the Shank
here in the New York Times Sunday Book Review
Renard Allen is a professor of Creative Writing at the
University of Virginia. Allen is the author of five books, most
recently the novel Song of the Shank (Graywolf Press,
2014), which is loosely based on the life of Blind Tom, a
nineteenth century African American piano virtuoso and composer
who was the first African American to perform at The White
House. The novel was featured as the front-page review of both
The New York Times Book Review and The San
Francisco Chronicle. It won the CLMP Firecracker Award, was
a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award, and was also nominated
for the Dublin Literary Prize. Allen is the author of two other
works of fiction, the novel Rails Under My Back, which
won The Chicago Tribune's Heartland Prize for Fiction, and the
short story collection Holding Pattern, which won The
Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence. Allen has
received other accolades for his work, including a Whiting
Writers’ Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Chicago Public
Library’s Twenty First Century Award, a residency at the New
York Public Library’s Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers,
and a residency at Bellagio. His website is
All manuscripts will be reviewed by at least two Leapfrog editors, and those that go to the second round of judging may be read by editors at other small presses as well.
Manuscripts are reviewed "blind": the judges do not know the authors' names or any other information about them. This is important to our judging process and the integrity of the contest.
1. May I submit more than one ms? Yes, you may submit as many as you choose. Each requires an entry fee, and they will be judged separately. The judges will not know they are from the same author. However, our advice is that you use your resources to explore several contests rather than entering more than a couple of mss into a single contest.
2. May I submit to other contests/agents/presses while waiting for the Leapfrog contest results? Yes. We ask that you let us know when you enter what other contests you have entered with the same manuscript, and inform us if your manuscript receives an award elsewhere. Winning another contest does not disqualify a manuscript from being named for an award by Leapfrog. If you receive a publication contract elsewhere, please let us know as that will disqualify the ms from our first prize.
3. What if I edit my manuscript after submitting and want to resend? That is usually fine until the last month of the contest. Just send the new version by email with a short explanation, and we will make sure all judges receive the new version.
4. What if I am unable
to send the entry fee through Submittable? If you prefer to pay
the reading fee by physical check, please contact us by email at
firstname.lastname@example.org so that we can direct you
around the fee system.
5. What if I decide to withdraw manuscript? If you withdraw before your manuscript has been through several rounds of judging, we will refund your entry fee.
6. May I resubmit a manuscript that I submitted to this contest in the past? We do not encourage that. Even if you feel the ms has been through substantial editing, it is likely to be judged about the same as last time, even by quite different judges. If your ms was named for an award in the past, we cannot name it again. We are happy to take new manuscripts from past contest authors, however.
7. Do you ever publish more than one winner? Yes, we have done that several times. There may be two winners, especially if there are enough MG/YA manuscripts to make a separate category.
8. My computer went belly up and I have only a hard copy of my manuscript. May I send it by mail? In an emergency, we will accept a hard copy, but we need to know that it is coming or it will not be processed for the contest. Please email to discuss this with us before putting a hard copy in the postal mail.
9. Does my manuscript need to be formatted a certain way? No. We are not at all picky about that. Just make it readable. If it was a self-published book, be sure to eliminate title and copyright pages, and page headers, so there is no identifying information.
10. What if many of
the stories in my collection were previously published in
journals? That is fine, as long as much of the collection as a
whole has not already been published as a book. A list of
acknowledgments is also fine to include.
11. How many manuscripts do your usually receive? It varies between about 400 and 600.
12. What if I live
outside the United States? About 10% of our entrants each year
are not in the US. We are happy to read manuscripts from any and
all countries. Our 2016 winner lives in the UK.
13. My manuscript has illustrations. Is that OK? Well.... if they are essential, it's OK. We do not take picture books, children's or otherwise, and we do not publish in color. B&W images that are crucial to the book may be included. Again, please keep the file size reasonable.
14. Is there a
midnight deadline on May 1? We are not concerned about exactly
when your manuscript arrives. If we see it when we log in on the
morning of May 2, it has made the deadline. Sometimes there are
unavoidable delays and submissions arrive after May 1. Please
keep to the May 1 deadline unless there is an unavoidable issue.
Any other questions? Please email us at
email@example.com and we will be happy to help. You are doing us a favor by sending us your work to consider, and we'll do what we can to make the process easy.
First Prize: publication contract offer from Leapfrog Press, with an advance payment, plus the finalist awards (see below).
Finalists: $150 and one or two critiques of the manuscript from contest judges; permanent listing on the Leapfrog Press contest page as a contest finalist, along with short author bio and description of the book.
Semi-Finalist: Choice of a free Leapfrog book; permanent listing on the website.
Honorable Mention: listing on the Leapfrog Press website.
We encourage all contest awardees to inform us of any publicity/contracts/reviews of their entries. We will be happy to post that information on our website and in our newsletter.