Prize Eligibility & Conditions

Eligibility & Conditions – 2023



  1. The cash prizes, manuscript assessment, travel stipend to Georgia, and publishing honorarium are funded by The de Groot Foundation.
  2. The Civitella residency is co-funded by The de Groot Foundation and the Civitella Ranieri Foundation.
  3. All sponsored entries are covered by Desperate Literature.
  4. We have no other funding and, as such, all other costs – in-house labour, web-development, publishing, Madrid event launch, translations, publicity, jury costs – 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 legal name, though pseudonyms are accepted for the purposes of promotion and publishing should you be shortlisted.
  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’s name) when paying for your entry. Please do not email stories directly.
  3. Submissions that carry an author name will not be considered.
  4. Submissions may include images, but the maximum file upload size per entry is 10MB.
  5. Submissions must be previously unpublished works of up to 2000 words.
  6. 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 at the time of selection.
  7. Entrants may submit more than one story.
  8. 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.
  9. The Desperate Literature Short Fiction Prize offers up to 40 sponsored entries, offering free entry to underrepresented writers or writers suffering from financial hardship.
  10. The Desperate Literature Short Fiction Prize offers up to 60 reduced-fee entry places sponsored by Desperate Literature, offering 50% entry to underrepresented writers or writers suffering from financial hardship.
  11. If you consider yourself eligible 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. Deadline for applications: April 1st 2023. We will contact all applicants at least one week before the prize deadline (April 17th CEST) with the result of their application, and those who are offered a fully sponsored or reduced fee entry will receive details on how to process their entry. Entry via a sponsored place will not compromise the blind reading of the prize.
  12. Recipients of a sponsored or reduced fee entry may submit a single entry.
  13. The sponsorship scheme is run in collaboration with Spread The Word, UK. Desperate Literature has extended a further ten sponsored places to Spread the Word, ten places to Cipher Press, five places to The Word and three places to The Writers’ House of Georgia to be selected by the organisations and sent before the closing date of Midnight April 17th CEST 2023.
  14. 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), original author and translator must agree to organise prize distribution. Where disputes arise, Desperate Literature will award single recipient prizes to the original author.
  15. Only submissions received and paid for by midnight (Madrid time) April 30th (EXTENDED DEADLINE) CEST 2023 will be accepted.
  16. Entries that are unpaid, incomplete, corrupted, or submitted after the deadline will not be considered.
  17. Uploads can be made after purchase and revised on your order page here.
  18. Please make sure to verify and proofread your .pdf upload before submitting. Stories cannot be swapped via the customer portal once uploaded. All exchanged must be made via email sent to Please include your order number, the name of the file to be deleted and the replacement file. We do our best to replace files when upload errors occur (the wrong file has been uploaded, for instance), but we cannot guarantee that small errors in the story can be accommodated (recently discovered typos, for instance). Please note: we really our best to accommodate for such erroneous uploads, but once a story is allocated to a first-round reading group, we cannot guarantee changes or refunds. UPDATE: once the prize closes, all stories are sent out to reading groups with a few days. As such, after May 3rd, we will no longer be able to exchange files! Please verify your file before upload!
  19. We cannot guarantee refunds on withdrawn stories. If the withdrawal is done before the story has gone out to a first-round reading group, we may be able to offer a refund under exceptional circumstances, but once a story has been entered into the reading pool, we cannot guarantee changes to the story or refunds.
  20. Prizes are not transferable.
  21. 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 story titles in publicity.
  22. Entrants also give permission to Desperate Literature to publish shortlisted stories in a single print run book of the shortlisted stories, for sale by Desperate Literature in-store, online, and through any relevant third-party distributors. Entrants also give permission to Desperate Literature to share this book with relevant parties (media, agents etc).
  23. Entrants also give permission to Desperate Literature to publish shortlisted stories in .pdf format for sale by Desperate Literature (only) in perpetuity. Entrants also give permission to Desperate Literature to share this .pdf with relevant parties (media, agents etc).
  24. Shortlisted entrants will be given a one-off honorarium of €50 for the above mentioned print rights and .pdf rights, before the close of 2023.
  25. We will be sending the shortlist book to agents in the USA and UK. As our aim is to get you all published, we can share a little of the advice we’ve received from agents over the years. For writers who wish to make the most of our prizes and opportunities, other than having a manuscript of short fiction or a novel ready, it is helpful to have ideas for future works lined up and ready to present, no matter the state of development. Voilà.


  1. The week-long residency in the Civitella Ranieri Foundation must take place in either May or October the year following the prize win 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. The winner has up to one year to claim their place.
  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 7-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 early summer of each year, however the festival will only be held if and when it is safe to do so. Winners of the 2023 residency will be invited to the 2024 Tbilisi festival, and should the festival be cancelled due to Covid-19, The Writers’ House of Georgia assures that the 7-day residency will be upheld. Winners of this residency have up to one year to claim their place and may attend the residency outside of the festival timeframe should they need to, but only one residency and one travel stipend is available.
  4. The final say for publication in all associated journals and magazines falls to the editors and is not guaranteed by Desperate Literature.
  5. Publication in one magazine does not exclude the possibility of having further stories published in the other journals. The aim of the Desperate Literature Short Fiction Prize is to promote the works of the winners as widely as possible.
  6. Literary agent Charlotte Seymour of Johnson & Alcock 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.
  7. All shortlisters will receive three contributor copies of the Desperate Literature Short Fiction Prize booklet.
  8. All events dates are yet to be confirmed, dependent upon availability and health concerns due to Covid-19. If you would like up-to-date  information about travelling to Spain, see here.
  9. Prize participants are responsible for travel expenses to prize events.
  10. The prize winner will receive a manuscript assessment through The Literary Consultancy for a manuscript of up to 60,000 words, along with a one hour, one-to-one ‘Online Writer’s Surgery’ follow-up meeting with an editor via Zoom. The winner will be given six months to submit their manuscript to The Literary Consultancy, starting from the date of the winner announcement of the 2023 Desperate Literature Short Fiction Prize, which is estimated to be during June 2023. Should the winner not have a manuscript to submit by that point, the service will then be offered to other members of the 11-person shortlist, until a suitable candidate is found. This decision will be made at the discretion of the Desperate Literature Short Fiction Prize. While we do not intend to impose a minimum word count, we will encourage that this be at least 30,000 words, in order to make it worthwhile for both the writer and for The Literary Consultancy.


  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 Fiction 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. The first round review teams are subject to change, depending upon reviewer availability, but all entries are read by at least two reviewers before the shortlist is selected.
  5. Entrants agree to receiving information by email concerning the progress of their entry. Entrants can opt in or out of receiving further prize information from Desperate Literature.
  6. An informal longlist selection is made during the last week of May, which will be announced on our website. We will also email all entrants with the results of the longlist, once it is made, but we ask that longlisted authors avoid public announcements in order to adhere to our anonymous judging process.
  7. The shortlist will be selected early June 2023. All longlisted entrants will be contacted by email about whether they have been shortlisted or not, and shortlisted authors will be asked to avoid public announcements in order to adhere to our anonymous judging process. We will also announce the shortlist on social media and our website.
  8. Once the judging panel has selected the winner and runners-up, all shortlisted entrants will be contacted by email and the winner and runners-up will be contacted by telephone. Expected date for selection: June 15th (though this is subject to slight change).
  9. A public announcement of the winners will be made by the end of June.
  10. The shortlist will comprise eleven stories.
  11. The winners are chosen from our shortlist by our jury panel and their decision is final.
  12. Unsuccessful entrants will not be contacted individually.
  13. 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.