The 2020-2021 NESFA Science Fiction & Fantasy Short Story Contest will be open from June 1, 2020, through August 31, 2020, with winners to be announced at Boskone 58, February 12–14, 2021.
The contest was originally open until September 30, but we reached our limit of 75 entries by the end of August, so this year’s contest is now closed.
Short Story Contest Rules
Welcome to the NESFA science fiction/fantasy short story contest. Note that there are some changes to last year’s contest rules. Please read these rules and, if you have any questions or concerns, ask us before submitting your story.
The purpose of this contest is to encourage amateur and semi-professional writers to reach the next level of proficiency. We will look for engaging openings, good character development, well-structured plotting, powerful imagery, witty or humorous language, unique word or phrasing choices, and convincing endings. This contest is intended for beginning writers. If you have received more than $1000 for your fiction writing from any source on the date you submit your story, and/or have published, in any paying publication, a novel or multiple shorter works adding up to more than 40,000 words you are no longer eligible. If you are unsure, send us your publication history.
The deadline for submissions is August 31, 2020. All submissions must be made via email to firstname.lastname@example.org in flat text, rich text, PDF, or any format readable by MS Word, Open Office, or LibreOffice. Please include your submission as an attachment rather than in the body of the email. Story pages should be numbered, with the page number and the title of the story at the top of each page.
A qualifying story must have strong science fiction or fantasy elements and must be shorter than 7,500 words. Stories must be original works of fiction, submitted by their authors. No reprints, fan fiction, or poetry, please.
Please place your contact information (name, preferred email address, phone number, and preferred postal address — for possible awards) either in the body of the email with the story attached or in a separate attachment to the same email. Don’t put your personal information anywhere in your story. We want to judge your story on its own. We will not use your personal information for anything other than contacting you about this contest. Winners will be asked later for information they want to be part of any public announcement. Please note: Since we do not publish contest entries your name should not appear on the story anywhere. Pseudonyms are not useful for this contest.
The contest will be limited to the first 50 or 75 qualifying entries, depending on the size of our first-reader group. We will change this note when we receive the maximum number of qualifying entries. While the deadline for submissions is September 30th, we may close off submissions for this year sooner if the response is larger than we expect.
We reserve the right to disqualify submissions on technical grounds (including, but not limited to: if we simply can’t read the format, if you send us a picture book, if it isn’t in English, or if it has no SF or fantasy elements, etc.). Our first readers may also disqualify your submission if, on a quick perusal of the first few pages, they believe your story contains too many flaws to be competitive in this contest. Yes, this is a judgment call. We urge you to have a trusted reader (such as a teacher, a writer, or even a literate relative) review your work for basic flaws in grammar, syntax, logic, and plausibility before you submit your story.
We’ll give you a chance to correct purely technical problems, but if the first readers reject your submission a second time, you are done for this year. You can try again in a future year, if and when we run this contest.
Judges will provide feedback for all qualifying contest entries soon after Boskone 58. First-round judges will consist of NESFA members and volunteers. Winners will be chosen by a final panel of judges, including at least one professional writer.
The winner, runners-up, and honorable mentions will be announced during the awards ceremony at Boskone, in NESFA’s newsletter following Boskone, and in various electronic media, including e-zines, newszines, and the Boskone and NESFA websites, blogs, and Facebook pages.
The winner will receive a certificate of achievement, three NESFA Press books, and a free membership to their choice of the next Boskone or to the Boskone after that.
Runners-up will receive a certificate and two NESFA Press books. Honorable mentions will receive a certificate and one NESFA Press book.
Winner, runners-up, and honorable mentions will be encouraged to select their books at Boskone and either take them immediately or ask for them to be shipped later.
There is no entry fee. Please submit only one entry per author. Prize recipients may be required to sign an acceptance form for prizes won.
NESFA welcomes all writers and topics. We look forward to reading your submission and wish all of our writers good luck in this year’s NESFA Annual Short Story Competition.