28th Annual Writing Contest

The Rules

Please review these carefully. We regret that noncomplying entries will have to be disqualified without refund.

  • Entries, characters and worlds must be original to the writer unless characters are real people. Fan fiction is not allowed.
  • Winning entries from previous SAWG contests are not eligible.
  • Entries previously published in any medium except for brief samples on authors’ social media or web sites are not eligible.
  • Entries accepted before the contest closes for publication elsewhere must be withdrawn.
  • Entries that do not conform to all requirements will be disqualified. 
  • Entry fees are not refundable.
  • Unlike many other contests, SAWG entrants retain all rights to their contest entries. SAWG will publish no part of an entry except the author’s name and the title. A piece that enters or even wins does not count as being published.
  • The Guild will retain one copy of each winning entry. These will be available in case a claim of plagiarism is levied at a later date.

The Categories

  • Book-length fiction
  • Short story
  • Nonfiction (including memoir), either length
  • Romance, either length
  • Poetry

The Submission Requirements

  • Book-length: 500-word-maximum synopsis plus first 5,000 words
  • Short: maximum length 12,000 words
  • Poetry: no size limits
  • File type must be .doc, .docx or .pdf
  • Font must be Times New Roman 12-point or Courier 12-point.
  • Author’s name or identifying information must not appear anywhere in the document.
  • Paragraphs must be double-spaced.
  • Pages must have one-inch margins all around.
  • Pages must be numbered in the footer section of the page.
  • Entry category and title must appear as a header of each page, including the first page.

The Deadlines & Entry Fees

 PoemsAll Other Genres
Early bird: Sept 1 – Dec 15$7 per entry$26 per entry
Late Bloomer: Dec 16 – Jan 31$12 per entry$32 per entry

Discount: $5 per entry (except poetry) for students, military and Guild members.

The contest will close at 11:59 PM Central (US) on January 31, 2020.

The Prizes

In each category:

  • First place $100
  • Second place $50
  • Third place $25
  • Honorable mention

Every prize includes one year’s SAWG membership (a $35 value) and a link to the writer’s web site on SAWG’s web page.

A writer may receive only one prize per category.

Number of Entries

A writer may submit two entries per category, ten total entries per person.


There are two rounds of blind judging.

  • The first round is done by writer volunteers screened, selected and trained by SAWG. 
  • Each entry will be assessed by at least three judges who are familiar with that genre.
  • Volunteer judges will have no contest entries in the genres they judge.
  • Five entries in each category with the highest initial scores will advance to the final round.
  • The final judges are professional writers who specialize in the entries’ genres.
  • Winners will be contacted by email, announced at the monthly meeting following the completion of judging, invited to read their winning entries at a SAWG meeting, and their names and websites will be posted on the SAWG website.
  • All contestants may, if they wish, receive the detailed score sheets for their work, including all judges’ comments and advice, via email after the winners are announced.
  • All finalists may correspond with their final judges if they wish to.

How to Submit and Pay

Send your entry to sawgcontest@gmail.com as an attachment to an email. Pay your submission fee through this PayPal form:

Submission Fee