We invite writers to submit to the Uncharted Magazine Novel Excerpt Prize from September 1 to October 31, 2023. Think you’ve got an excerpt that will keep us reading, will leave us begging for more? We're looking for the best 5,000 words or fewer of your novel in progress! We love to read opening chapters, climaxes, and anything in-between! Give us those scenes full of tension, crackling dialogue, and worlds we’ve never even imagined! Give us a chance to read the most captivating section of your novel—and make us want to read more!
Uncharted Magazine publishes genre novel excerpts from fiction writers of any background or experience. We want excerpts that make us hunger for new worlds we can explore through sensual details and human empathy. We want excerpts that make us feel alive, that awaken our desire to go on adventures.
We're thrilled to partner with Guest Judge Meg Elison, who will choose three prize winners from a shortlist. The three co-winners of this prize will each receive $1,000 and publication. All entries will be considered for publication.
Meg Elison is a DC area author and essayist. She writes science fiction and horror, as well as feminist essays and cultural criticism. She has been published in McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, Fangoria, Fantasy and Science Fiction, Catapult, and many other places.
She is a member of the Science Fiction Writers Association (SFWA) and the National Writers Union (@paythewriter).
Her debut novel, The Book of the Unnamed Midwife, won the 2014 Philip K. Dick Award. Her novelette, The Pill, won the 2021 Locus Award. She is a Hugo, Nebula, and Sturgeon Awards finalist. She has been an Otherwise Award honoree twice. Her YA debut, Find Layla, was published in the fall of 2020 by Skyscape. It was named one of Vanity Fair's Best 15 Books of 2020. Her parasocial thriller, Number One Fan, was published in August 2022 by Mira Books.
● The deadline for entry is October 31, 2023. We will announce the winner and finalists within ten to twelve weeks of the contest's close. All writers will be notified when the results are final.
● For the $20 reading fee, writers may submit any section of their novel that is 1,001–5,000 words in length per entry. Both the excerpt and the novel must be unpublished. (The full novel does not need to be completed).
● Please send novel excerpts (fiction) only—5,000 word count maximum.
● We only consider unpublished work for contests—we do not review reprints, including self-published work (even on blogs and social media). Reprints will be automatically disqualified.
● Simultaneous submissions are okay—please notify us and withdraw your entry if you find another home for your writing.
● Multiple entries are also okay—but each submission must be accompanied by a separate reading fee of $20.
● All entries will also be considered for publication in Uncharted Magazine.
● Double-space your submission and use Times New Roman 12 (or larger if needed).
● Please include a brief cover letter with your publication history and content warnings (if applicable).
● We only read work in English, though some code-switching is warmly welcomed.
● We do not read anonymous submissions. However, shortlisted stories are sent anonymously to the judge.
● Work generated by AI will be automatically disqualified.
● Note: To ensure the protection of our volunteer readers and to keep Uncharted a safe space, please let us know in your cover letter if your work can be triggering in any way. This information will have no bearing on your submission or our decision—we just want to ensure the best possible environment for our readers. Thank you for your understanding.
Some Submittable Hot Tips:
● Please be sure to whitelist/add this email address to your contacts, so notifications do not get filtered as spam/junk: email@example.com.
● If you realize you sent the wrong version of your piece: It happens. Please DO NOT withdraw the piece and resubmit. Submittable collects a nonrefundable fee each time. Please DO message us from within the submission to request that we open the entry for editing, which will allow you to fix everything from typos in your cover letter to uploading a new draft. The only time we will not allow a change is if the piece is already under review by a reader.
Q: What am I supposed to write in my cover letter?
A: Think of your cover letter as a brief author bio, that is, what you would like posted on our site should your piece be selected for publication. Don’t overthink it, we just want to know a little about you! Most writers choose to include publication history or something about the excerpt that is being submitted. Note that you can include personal or identifying information in your cover letter.
Q: When can I expect to hear back about my excerpt?
A: Regardless of acceptance or decline, you will hear back from us, we promise. You can expect a status update within eight to twelve weeks from the day you submit for this prize.
Q: When will I hear back about my submission and/or the results of the contest?
A: Every submitter is notified of a decision, and we send out responses once a submission doesn't advance to the next round. We'd also encourage you to follow us on social media as we publicly announce winners and contest opportunities there.
Q: Are prologues acceptable?
A: You can absolutely submit your novel’s prologue as long as the entire submission is under 5,000 words.
Q: Do you accept submissions from writing teams?
A: Yes! However, you would need to designate one person as the submitter—or maybe create a joint Submittable account. We love to see teams enter their work, as long as you all understand that you'd be splitting the prize if the submission was selected as one of the winners.
Q: Who retains the rights to my work, and will I be able to query my novel later?
A: We're not able to speak for every publisher, but since we're not publishing your work in its entirety, future publication should not be a problem. Rights also revert back to the author after ninety days. If an opportunity arises for you to publish your work before these ninety days, we are happy to revert rights back to you sooner.
OPTIONAL FEEDBACK ON YOUR WRITING
You may choose to receive editorial feedback on your piece. We will provide a two-page global letter discussing the strengths of the writing and the recommended focus for revision. Our aim is to make our comments actionable and encouraging. These letters are written by editors and staff readers of Uncharted Magazine. A significant portion of the editorial letter fees goes to our feedback editor. Should your story win, no feedback will be offered, and your fee will be refunded.
Good luck and happy writing!