Emerging Writer’s Contest

The 2024 Emerging Writer’s Contest is now closed. The winners will be announced in the fall.

Since 1971, Ploughshares has been committed to promoting the work of up-and-coming writers. Over the years, Ploughshares has helped launch the careers of great writers like Edward P. Jones, Sue Miller, Mona Simpson, Tim O’Brien, and many more. 

In the spirit of the journal’s founding mission, the Ploughshares Emerging Writer’s Contest recognizes work by an emerging writer in each of three genres: fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. One winner in each genre per year will receive $2,000 and publication in the literary journal.  We consider authors “emerging” if they haven’t published or self-published a book.

The 2024 contest judges are Dantiel W. Moniz in fiction, Porsha Olayiwola in poetry, and Augusten Burroughs in nonfiction. The winners will also receive a conversation with our partnering literary agency, Aevitas Creative Management, regarding their work and writing careers. 



The winning story, essay, and poems from the 2024 contest will be published in the Winter 2024-25 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, 2025.
  • Are not affiliated with Emerson College or with Ploughshares as a volunteer screener, intern, student, staff member, or faculty member.
  • Will not have a relationship with Emerson College before April 15, 2025 (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).

We accept fiction and nonfiction up to 6,000 words and 3-5 pages of poetry. Excerpts of longer works are welcome if self-contained.

  • 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  • Submitted work must be original and previously unpublished in any form.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 are welcome, but we ask that you please be in touch via email for more information about this process.
  • We cannot accommodate revisions once a manuscript has been submitted.
  • If submitting work with images, please acquire permission beforehand and, if possible, ensure any images are high resolution (300 dpi).
  • We strongly encourage typed, double-spaced (poetry may be single-spaced), and 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 2024-2025 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 2024-2025 issue, the submission manager will prompt you to pay the $30 fee at checkout. The fee includes a 1-year subscription to Ploughshares (beginning with the Spring 2024 issue and ending with the Winter 2024-2025 issue) and free submissions to the 2024 regular reading period. 

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

Submit here.