See winners from the last contest by clicking here.


GUIDELINES, judging criteria, and FAQs appear below the prize list.

1st Place

Publishing Package Prize – The Fine Print: has published more than 13,000 titles in the past 20 years. This publishing package includes interior design, original cover design, ISBN, barcode, distribution/fulfillment, etc. CLICK HERE to see the At Your Service package details. The first place winner’s manuscript must be ready for review and formatting within three months of notification by BookLocker that he or she has won. The manuscript must first be approved for publication by BookLocker. ( will not publish books with bad writing or poor editing, nor ones that violate laws, contain libel or invasion of privacy, or that teach people how to perform illegal acts.) If BookLocker can’t publish the winner’s book for any of these reasons, their prize will instead be a free print book of their choice from, in addition to the prizes above, of course.

2nd Place

  • $250 Cash Prize
  • Publication of winning story on’s contest website
  • 1-year subscription to the Write Markets Report
  • A free writing-related print or ebook of the winner’s choice from

3rd Place

  • $200 Cash Prize
  • Publication of winning story on’s contest website
  • 1-year subscription to the Write Markets Report
  • A free writing-related print or ebook of the winner’s choice from

100 – Honorable Mentions

  • A one-year subscription to The Write Markets Report
  • A free writing-related ebook of the winner’s choice from

(Frequently Asked Questions)

Q. How long do stories need to be?
A. We can’t tell you until contest start time how long the entries must be. Past contests have ranged from 500 max. to 2,000 max. You’ll just have to wait and see.

Q. Why won’t you tell us the contest word count ahead of time?
A. Because we have found that some write their stories ahead of time and then (crafty they are) creatively incorporate the contest topic into their almost-completed story.

Q. What’s the biggest mistake writers make in the contests?
A. Bad endings! Oh, we do so detest bad endings! Predictable endings, poor and weak endings…they can turn a wonderful story into a sour grape. We’ve read thousands of stories over the past two years and some absolutely wonderful and beautifully written stories end up losing on the last sentence. It’s sad, but it’s very, very common. Hint: We LOVE surprises!

Q. What do you base your judging criteria on?
A. In the contests, we give the topic and what we find, after reading the first few entries, is that most of the stories are the same story told over and over but in a different way. Those are weeded out because it is obvious that originality did not play a major part in their planning. We also look at good writing (but if the story is not good… it gets tossed as well). Some writers can weave a beautiful thread, but tell a really bad story at the same time. Humor plays a part, too, when appropriate in the story. If we groan, we don’t like it. If we laugh out loud, we love it. What we end up with (at the end) is 10-20 stories that stood out above the rest. While good writing is a must, originality plays a huge role in the judging as well.

For example:
A past topic was: Life Threatening Situation in A Natural Disaster. Common themes were people trying to survive hurricanes, floods, tornadoes and the like. The winning entry focused more on the psychological madness of the wife than on the hurricane itself. Another winner gave us an avalanche. Not only was the story beautifully written, but it was the only avalanche story we received, and the life threatening situation was not the natural disaster, but the impending suicide of the main character.

Another topic was “It was the most terrifying classified ad yet and, to top it off, a there was a blizzard brewing!” One writer wrote about a woman and a classified ad…and she was drinking a blizzard from Dairy Queen. Now THAT was original!

I hope this gives you some ideas of what we’re looking for in winning entries.

Q. What should I avoid?
A. Far too many stories come in with the main character being a writer. Please don’t do that. It is far too common. Also, do NOT make the main character of your story named Angela. These tactics are always used by a few in each contest and they don’t work. In fact, making us think that favoritism because of a name will be used has the opposite effect on our judging. Good writing is what makes a winner…not manipulation of the judges. Oh, and don’t make your story about a writer who is participating in a writing contest but who can’t come up with an idea on the topic. We always get a couple of those and that idea is pretty old by now.

Q. What is the judging process?
A. Stories are read and broken down into two categories. Finalists versus other. The finalists are read and ranked by all judges. Using the rankings, we pick the top 23. These 23 are then re-read and ranked again by the judges and awarded either first, second, third place, or an honorable mention.

Please join us! We’re gonna have a blast! 🙂