Emerging Writer’s Contest

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Emerging Writer’s Contest


The 2023 Emerging Writer’s Contest will run from March 1 at noon EST to May 15 at noon EST.

The Emerging Writer’s Contest is open to writers of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry who have yet to publish or self-publish a book. Read past winners of the contest here.

We award publication, $2,000, review from Aevitas Creative Management, and a 1-year subscription for one winner in each of the three genres. Submit to the Emerging Writer’s Contest through our submission manager. You must be logged in to access our submission manager.

The 2023 contest judges are Gish Jen (Fiction), Sandra Cisneros (Poetry), and Meghan O’Rourke (Nonfiction).


The winning story, essay, and poems from the 2023 contest will be published in the Winter 2023-24 issue of Ploughshares.


You are eligible if you:

  • Have yet to publish a book (including eBooks, translations, books in other languages/countries, self-published works, and poetry chapbooks with a print run of more than 300).
  • Have no book forthcoming before April 15, 2024.
  • Are not affiliated with Emerson College or with Ploughshares as a contributing author, volunteer screener, intern, student, staff member, or faculty member.
  • Will not have a relationship with Emerson College before April 15, 2024 (example: if there is a chance you will attend the Emerson MFA program in the coming year or if your work has been accepted for publication for an upcoming issue).


The contest opens March 1, 2023 at noon EST and closes on May 15, 2023 at noon EST. We will announce the winners in mid-September of 2023.

Fiction and Nonfiction: Under 6,000 words
Poetry: 3-5 pages

Submit one entry per year via our online submission manager.

  • No entries via email or mail will be considered for the contest.
  • Submitted work must be original and previously unpublished in any form.
  • For poetry, we will be reading both for the strongest individual poem and the general level of work, and may choose to publish one, some, or all of the winner’s submitted poems.
  • International submissions welcome.
  • We cannot accomodate revisions once a manuscript has been submitted.
  • Typed, double-spaced (poetry may be single-spaced) pages.
  • Numbered pages.
  • Cover letters are not necessary. Please remove all identifying information from your submission as they will be read anonymously. 

Simultaneous vs. Multiple Submissions
We only consider one submission per author for the duration of the contest, regardless of genre. Simultaneous submissions to other journals are fine as long as we are notified immediately upon acceptance elsewhere via email (pshares@pshares.org) or our online contact form.

Entry Fee

If you are a current subscriber through our Winter 2023-2024 issue, your contest entry is free of charge. You will still be prompted to “checkout” but you will not be required to enter payment information and will not be charged. If you’re not sure when your subscription expires, feel free to email us at pshares@pshares.org.

If you are not a subscriber, or your subscription expires before our Winter 2023-2024 issue, the submission manager will prompt you to pay the $24 fee at checkout. The fee includes a 1-year subscription to Ploughshares (beginning with the Spring 2023 issue and ending with the Winter 2023-2024 issue) and free submissions to the 2023 regular reading period.

If you are an international submitter, please be in touch via email for more information about this process. 

Submit to the Emerging Writer’s Contest through our submission manager.

Visit https://www.pshares.org/submit/emerging-writers-contest/guidelines for more details and to enter.

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