Prize Eligibility & Conditions

Eligibility & Conditions


  1. The cash prizes and residency are funded by the de Groot Foundation and the Civitella Ranieri Foundation, respectively.
  2. Five sponsored entries are funded by the de Groot Foundation. All other sponsored entries are covered by Desperate Literature.
  3. We have no other funding and, as such, all other costs – in-house labour, web-development, publishing, Madrid event launch, translations, publicity – are funded by Desperate Literature and/or the proceeds raised by the Desperate Literature Short Fiction Prize. Further proceeds go to ensuring the continued viability of the Desperate Literature Short Fiction Prize, the bookshop and its community.


  1. Entrants must be individuals and not a company or organization.
  2. Entrants must submit their work using their real name.
  3. Entrants must be over 18 years of age at the time of submission.
  4. The competition is not open to employees of Desperate Literature, of any collaborative entity or members of the judging panel. Family members of any of the aforementioned are also not eligible.


  1. Submissions must be in English.
  2. Submissions must be made in pdf format (carrying no mention of the author name) when paying for your entry. Please do not email stories directly. Submissions that carry an author name will not be considered.
  3. Submissions may include images, but the maximum file upload size per entry is 10MB.
  4. Submissions must be previously unpublished works of up to 2000 words.
  5. Submissions may be made simultaneously to other short fiction prizes, however your story can only be shortlisted for the Desperate Literature Short Fiction Prize if you accept to withdraw your story for any and all other competitions and the time of selection.
  6. Entrants may submit more than one story.
  7. The entry fee is set at €20 for the first piece of short fiction and €10 for every further entry with a maximum of five entries per person.
  8. The Desperate Literature Short Fiction Prize offers ten sponsored entries, offering free entry to under represented writers or writers suffering from financial hardship. Five entries offered by the de Groot foundation and five entries by Desperate Literature.
  9. The Desperate Literature Short Fiction Prize offers 30 reduced fee entry places sponsored by Desperate Literature, offering 50% entry to under represented writers or writers suffering from financial hardship.
  10. If you consider yourself eligible for and would like to apply for either a fully sponsored or reduced fee entry for this year’s prize, please apply by emailing with the subject heading ‘sponsored entry application’ or ‘reduced fee entry application’ and include your name, contact information and a very brief summary of your eligibility and why you are applying. We will contact all applicants at least one week before the prize deadline with the result of their free entry application, and those who are offered a free place will receive details on how to process their entry. Deadline for applications: April 1st 2021. Entry via a sponsored place will not compromise the blind reading of the prize.
  11. Recipients of a sponsored or reduced fee entry may submit a single entry.
  12. The Sponsorship scheme is run in collaboration with Spread The Word, UK. Desperate Literature has extended up to ten sponsored places to Spread the Word, up to five place to 3 of Cups Press and Cipher Press and up to three places to The Writers’ House of Georgia to be selected by the organisation and sent before the closing date of Midnight April 1st 2021.
  13. We accept translations. Entrants may be the original author or the translator of the piece, but must have permission to submit and the rights for both pieces, and must be willing to provide proof of both if necessary. Neither the translation nor the original story may have been published previously. Cash prizes will be shared between translator and original author (where possible). Where prizes are for a single entrant (residencies, publication), entrants agree to organise their prize distribution between author and translator. Where disputes arise, Desperate Literature will award single recipient prizes to the original author.
  14. Only submissions received and paid for by midnight (Madrid time) April 15th 30th 2021 will be accepted.
  15. Entries that are not paid for, incomplete, are corrupted or submitted after the deadline will not be considered.
  16. Prizes are not transferable.
  17. Entrants will retain copyright of their work. However, in submitting work, authors give permission to Desperate Literature to publicize and promote the work if appropriate and to use author names and title of work in publicity.
  18. Entrants also give permission to Desperate Literature to publish work in a one-off book of the shortlisted stories and to share this book with relevant parties (media, agents etc).
  19. As mentioned above, we will be sending the shortlist book to agents in the USA and UK. As our aim is to get you all published, we have sought out a little of the advice we’ve received from agents over the years. In a nutshell, besides having a manuscript for short fiction or a novel ready (in the best, most polished condition possible), it is helpful to have ideas for future works lined up and ready to present, no matter the state of development. Voila.


  1. The week-long residency in the Civitella Ranieri Foundation must take place in either May or October of 2021 and includes two meals a day. It does not include travel to or from the Foundation, and the winner must arrive at the foundation on a weekday.
  2. Winners of monetary prizes accept to receive transfers by PayPal, except in exceptional circumstances, in which case alternative arrangements can be made.
  3. The winner of the 10-day residency at The Writers’ House of Georgia will be selected by The Writers’ House of Georgia. The winner will be offered up to €400 travel stipend by the de Groot Foundation. The Tbilisi International Festival of Literature normally takes place in May of each year, however the festival will only be held if and when it is safe to do so. Should the festival be cancelled due to Covid-19, The Writers’ House of Georgia assures that the 10-day residency will be upheld.
  4. Only female-identifying winners may be accepted for publication by or reading at The Second Shelf.
  5. The final say for publication in all associated journals and magazines falls to the editors and is not guaranteed by Desperate Literature.
  6. Publication in one magazine does not exclude the possibility of having further stories published in the other journals. The aim of the Desperate Literature Prize for Short Fiction is to promote the works of the winners as widely as possible.
  7. Literary agent Charlotte Seymour of Andrew Nurnberg Associates offers a 30 minute consultation to the winner and two runners-up either by phone or Skype.  The consultation is not an offer of representation.
  8. All shortlisters will receive three contributor copies of the Desperate Literature Short Fiction Prize booklet. As of 2021, we are also paying €25 to each shortlister for their contribution to the anthology.
  9. All events dates are yet to be confirmed, dependent upon availability and health concerns due to Covid-19.
  10. Prize participants are responsible for travel expenses to prize events.


  1. We are looking for well crafted, boundary-pushing fiction. But a great story of any genre is a great story, so we’re also looking for anything with a strong sense of character, engagement and tension.
  2. All submissions to the Desperate Literature Short Story Prize are read blind by reviewers. Throughout the process, we subscribe to the CLMP contest code of ethics.
  3. If a reader becomes aware of the writer’s identity, they will withdraw themselves from the process of reviewing the piece in question.
  4. All entries are read by at least two reviewers before the shortlist is selected.
  5. Long-listed and short-listed entrants will be notified by email once the lists have been finalised.
  6. The shortlist will comprise eleven stories.
  7. The winners are chosen from our shortlist by our jury panel and their decision is final.
  8. Unsuccessful entrants will not be contacted individually.
  9. No editorial feedback can be provided.


CLMP’s community of independent literary publishers believes that ethical contests serve our shared goal: to connect writers and readers by publishing exceptional writing. We believe that intent to act ethically, clarity of guidelines, and transparency of process form the foundation of an ethical contest. To that end, we agree to 1) conduct our contests as ethically as possible and to address any unethical behavior on the part of our readers, judges, or editors; 2) to provide clear and specific contest guidelines — defining conflict of interest for all parties involved; and 3) to make the mechanics of our selection process available to the public. This Code recognizes that different contest models produce different results, but that each model can be run ethically. We have adopted this Code to reinforce our integrity and dedication as a publishing community and to ensure that our contests contribute to a vibrant literary heritage.