The 2023 contest is now open and for the month of December we have an early submission period at a reduced fee of $30. As of Jan. 1, 2023, the fee will be $35.
The annual fiction prize has been expanded to feature both Adult Fiction and YA | MG competitions, with separate finalist judges for each category.
Check out past winners here.
Judges for the 2023 Contest will be announced shortly
We send our thanks to both Nancy Pearl and Rosanne Parry for their diligent deliberations for the 2022 contest won by Aimee LaBrie in the Adult Category and D. K. McCutchen in the YA Category.
How to Enter
We will accept all entries through our Submittable page, which you can find by clicking here.
What to Enter
There are two award categories–one for Adult novels, novellas, and short story collections; and one for Young Adult (YA) and Middle Grade (MG) novels.
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 Books that have been self-published will be considered “unpublished” if fewer than about 200 copies were printed.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.
All manuscripts will be reviewed by at least two Leapfrog and/or Can of Worms 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- What if I edit my manuscript after submitting and want to resend? That is usually fine until the last month of the contest. Send us a message through Submittable requesting editing permission, and we will grant it and send an email notifying you we have done so.
- 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.
- What if I decide to withdraw my manuscript? If you withdraw before your manuscript has been through several rounds of judging, we will refund your entry fee.
- 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 entrants, however.
- Do you ever publish more than one winner? Yes, we have done that several times. This is one of the reasons we have decided to name winners in two categories: Adult fiction and YA/MG fiction.
- 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.
- Does my manuscript need to be formatted a certain way? No. We are not at all picky about that. Just make it readable and ensure your name is nowhere on it. If it was a self-published book, be sure to eliminate title and copyright pages, and page headers.
- 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.
- How many manuscripts do your usually receive? It varies between about 400 and 600.
- What if I live outside the United States? The Fiction Prize is a Global Fiction Prize, and with our partnership with Can of Worms Press in the UK, our winners will now be published throughout the English-speaking world. In the past about 10% of our entrants each year came from outside the US. We encourage diversity and are happy to read manuscripts from any and all countries so long as they are in English. Our 2016 winner lives in the UK.
- 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.
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 and Can of Worms Press, with an advance payment against royalties, plus the finalist awards (see below).
Finalists: $150 and critiques of the manuscript from contest judges; permanent listing on the Leapfrog Press and Can of Worms contest pages as a contest finalist, along with short author bio and description of the book.
Semi-Finalist: Choice of a free Leapfrog or Can of Worms book; permanent listing on the websites.
Honorable Mention: listing on the Leapfrog Press and Can of Worms Press websites.
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 social media accounts.